By Kapya Kaoma
When U.S. President Joe Biden cited Zambia for corruption in his speech to the United Nations General Assembly, I honestly expected a fiercest response from our President or UN ambassador. Instead, I got a smile from President Hichilema, and praises from his followers! Without any protest, our president met with U.S Vice President Harris.
Yet it was clearly a violation of the Westphalia Protocol that prohibits foreign leaders from interfering in other nations’ domestic affairs. Zambia’s democratic credentials go back to 1991, to claim that this election is the first time we have voted against corruption and bad governance was insulting. Worse still to place Zambia among countries like Sudan is saddening. What was even more embarrassing is the fact that the President of Zambia was in the audience when the country he vowed to protect from external and local interests was insulted by another Head of State.
I get it–President Hichilema’s understanding of international relations vis-à-vis domestic politics is next to none, but they are things he must understand. In International Relations, his standing is the same as Joe Biden’s–another reason I found it most insulting that he took a meeting with Vice President Harris after President Biden “canceled.” He simply justified his lower status–he is a second class president. In diplomatic standing, however, they are both equals.
The victory of Joe Biden and Hakainde Hichilema are similar in many ways. Both unseated very unpopular sitting Presidents, had women as running mates, and ran against the most corrupt administrations. But there were major differences too. Unlike Lungu, Trump came to power through the back door–Russians and corruption propelled him into office. Trump’s entire circle is either in jail or about to go to jail for corruption or other crimes against America. Trump is the first President to face countless lawsuits.
In addition, Trump didn’t concede defeat to this day. Instead, he asked his followers to attack the Capitol so as to stop the certification of votes to make Joe Biden the 46th President of the United States. On January 6, people died, and many more are nursing the trauma of that day. But Lungu allowed the peaceful transition of power, and managed to attend the inauguration of HH as the 7th President of Zambia. Trump didn’t!
Did it occur to President Hichilema that Biden didn’t mention Trump, and American elections? He was there to promote the best ideals of America to the world. Our President should have lectured him about conceding and peaceful transfer of power. Maybe he should have taught him about police brutality and racism. He should have reminded him that, unlike Americans, once elections are counted and announced, Zambians honor them. We don’t storm the Parliament like they did in America on January 6. I assure you, that would have surely led to the cancelation of his meeting with Vice President Harris, and the recalling of the US ambassador from Zambia.
No western nation would talk publicly about American elections or the failure of Trump to concede to Biden. Unless you are enemies or looked down on, the Westphalia Protocol prohibits nations from interfering in domestic affairs. That is why all the countries Biden mentioned are beggars. Yes our President may have felt great, but Biden insulted him as a poor moron. As a baby President, it is ok, but once an adult, President HH will be forced to make decisions that would make Joe mad. If he insults him then, he shouldn’t cry aloud–he just exposed himself to the West in the presence of the world.
There is a reason why African presidents avoid being ponies of the West–they will use you and dump you at will. I am afraid President HH is likely to be a lone woof in Africa–something that may work against him. Zambia needs other African countries to develop–the West is not a reliable partner at all. I understand he is in love with capitalism, but Bretton Woods guys are exploitative and equally corrupt. You are only good as long as you deliver the goods.By the way, they may lie to you–but one of America’s biggest creditors is China.
I am not surprised that many Zambians were celebrating the insult! But we must ask ourselves why European countries never mentioned the Capitol insurrections or the voting out of Trump due to corruption. Our colonized minds make us view the white man as the standard of good; thus we are celebrating an insult because it is coming from a white man. America won’t develop Zambia! We Zambians are the solutions to our poverty. We have been begging since colonial times–we have the waters, the land and the minerals. We have mangoes and we have oranges. The money we waste on visas alone can buy machines to make juices for export. Most importantly, the money we waste sleeping in their expensive Hotels to beg for peanuts can be used to buy tractors to empower communities to produce flowers for export–we don’t need America to develop. America has its own poor people. President HH saw them on the streets begging for cents. So what makes him think that Biden will help poor Zambians for nothing? Have you forgotten our own Dambisa Moyo’s Dead Aid? The mentality of I am “the only African” this and this, can be dangerously deceptive. The West is always looking for ponies to use, and the new boy on the street is the best candidate for the job!
As for corruption, America is the last country on earth to tell the world about it. Yes they may call it lobbying, inside dealings or dark money, but the outcome is the same. Politicians are paid by so called special interests to drive their agenda. So stop begging or cutting deals with so called experts, they are just after their profit. Only the hard working Zambians will develop Zambia! The Chinese or Americans will come, make money, and leave, but only Zambians will remain.
Zambians are the real investors!