Support Gabon widows’ call: release of plane crash report

Support Gabon widows’ call: release of plane crash report

Date: March 6, 2012
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Dear Comrades

Please let us support the Gabon widows’ call on the current Patriotic Front government to release the Report on the Gabon plane crash of 1993. Glove off to governments’ secrecy charade and enough is enough to the violation of the Zambian Enquiries Act over this long overdue report.

The families of our football fallen heroes, more than ever, need closure to this man-made disaster now, so that they can freely enjoy the victory celebrations of the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON)!

The call for the Report was made by the widow of Charles Chabala (fallen Goalkeeper) to President Sata, on behalf of all the Gabon widows. She made the call to the President when he paid tribute to the fallen heroes’ graveyard on 14 February 2012, where he put wreaths on each grave of the 30 National Football Team and Officials that perished off-coast of Gabon in April 1993. It’s fitting since the team perished on its way to play an AFCON qualifying match in Senegal.

Courageously, the Zambia Association for Research and Development (ZARD) successfully saved the Gabon widows from being stripped of their property and their spouses’ estate by the relatives of the deceased. ZARD mounted a campaign to assist the widows fight for their property by doing the following:

– Set up teams of activists that visited each funeral home;
– Lobbied the officials of the Gabon Trust to ensure that the widows and their children got their rightful inheritance according to the 1989 Wills and Administration of Estates Act and the Intestate Succession Act;
– Publicised the widows’ harassment through 1994 book and documentary video, both titled Gabon Aftermath: The Mistreatment of the Football Widows.

It is imperative that whatever happened on that fateful day, 28 April 1993, must be told and the compensations must be effected according to the Aviation regulations and the Zambian Enquiries Act under which the investigations were conducted.

I was the initiator and coordinator of the ZARD project, which was financially supported by the Norwegian and Swedish Embassies in Lusaka. I flew out of Zambia at the time the flag draped cascades of the fallen heroes were being received at the now Kenneth Kaunda International Airport. I felt guilty for not grieving in-country with the nation, it felt like deserting from a battle, but I was on a contractual mission and my trip couldn’t be avoided.

However, when I came back two weeks later, I was confronted with front-page headline news that the footballers’ widows were being harassed by the families of their deceased husbands. This situation was unbearable for me and it was worsened by the fact that none of the deceased football players had left any Wills to govern their estate. The situation called for action from women’s rights activists – especially that I was one of the ZARD members that had spearheaded the campaign for the enactment of the 1989 Wills and Administration of Estates Act and the Intestate Succession Act. Hence the few of us rolled up our sleeves and plunged into the property rescue mission. The external funding was sourced after the field work had already begun on in-kind voluntary ressources.

So, comrades let’s join the Gabon widows’ cause once more!

Aluta continua!

Sara Longwe



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