HH & Harris Joint Press Conference, a Muppet Show- BOWMAN LUSAMBO



HH & Harris Joint Press Conference, a Muppet Show

We watched with interest, the much anticipated joint news conference from State House grounds by President Hichilema and his guest US Vice President Kamala Harris.

Apart from the lovely backdrop of our beautiful animals roaming around, there was nothing that can be said about the event apart from the usual mumbling from President Hichilema and the half answers that Vice President Harris gave to most of the questions posed by Journalists.

We know that the substance was discussed behind closed doors but what the two leaders gave us when they emerged from their meeting was a waste of time. For us, this was confirmation that the Biden administration has no real agenda for Zambia. Coming all the way from Washington D.C to come and announce a meager 16 million dollar aid package to fight corruption is a joke. If the US valued our relationship, they would have partnered with us on a major infrastructure development project. It is common knowledge that Zambia has a huge infrastructure deficit estimated to be around US$9 billion, to plug that hole, Zambia needs real partners. Without continued investment in infrastructure, Zambia can kiss goodbye to sustainable development. Moreover, we don’t believe that the ACC needs more money to fight corruption, what we know the ACC requires now is to stop listening to orders from politicians on who to arrest.

Now let’s sit here and imagine if this visit was from a top Chinese official? There would have been a huge announcement that Zambia would get another General Hospital, a major road would be done and a technology and innovation hub. That is how China or even Russia and to a good except even India treats it’s development partners. It’s real development and not mere rhetoric.

And then came the moment when President Hichilema choose to embarrass himself and Zambia by answering a question on Donald Trump’s indictment directed at his guest, a question that Vice President Harris clearly elected not to answer by stating “No Comment” but our Mr know it all Gentleman wanted to steal the show and commented in his usual convoluted fashion. What President Hichilema did was a major breach of international protocol and a major embarrassment for Zambia. His handlers will do well to school him on matters of international diplomacy before he further embarrasses himself and the nation. In international diplomacy, symbolism is everything.

We also hope President Hichilema and his team can now reflect on Zambia’s foreign policy and the stance that his administration has taken. For instance on debt talks, President Hichilema looked miserable when asking Vice President Harris for the US to assist resolve the stalemate. If one needed any evidence that Zanbia is now a pawn in the USA’s hands, the evidence was presented at the press conference yesterday.

President Hichilema needs to realize that the US and its partners at the IMF and the World Bank have done all they could but the stalemate has been caused by his lack of tact. He needs to humble himself and engage China sincerely and stop pandering to the wills of the US and its partners or else, the muppet show we saw at State House will continue as the Kwacha continues performing like a Yoyo.


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