HH-You are only a pawn in their game
By Hon. Bowman Chilosha Lusambo
On a Chess board, pawns are the most valueless pieces, whose primary function is to protect the more-valuable soldiers. Pawns are moved here and there by the hand that moves them. Chess is a strategy game involving white pieces and black pieces. What we have seen play out in the recent few months regarding the Zambia debt restructuring process is a typical game of Chess between western countries led by the US against China with Zambia and President Hakainde Hichilema as pawns. What happened right before our eyes the last 48 Hours since Secretary Yellen and Ms. Georgieva had been in Lusaka is the tipping point after one of the players realised that they are ultimately losing this game.
The Lusaka trip by Secretary Yellen and Ms. Georgieva was a mere shadow boxing stunt aimed at showing China that the US and its partners like the IMF are Zambia’s true friends. In doing that, they started poking China right in its nose by accusing it of delaying Zambia’s debt talks.
The two ladies, in their desperate attempts to win this Chess game threw all diplomatic etiquette out of the window and bashed China using their own friendly Journalists they travelled with to Lusaka. One doesn’t need to be a student of political history to understand that this is part of a global geopolitical shift that is taking place as China asserts itself on the global stage.
The reaction from the two ladies was choreographed and firmly scripted in Washington and Lusaka merely provided a perfect playground.
In all this, Zambia and President Hichilema are mere pawns on a Chess board and as a Zambian, this is what is most disconcerting about this whole saga. In his naivety and thick headedness, President Hichilema has allowed himself to be used as an accessory in the West’s selfish agenda against China.
At 10 months in office, we advised President Hichilema to undertake a trip to China and reengage with our friends if his economic transformation agenda is to bear fruits. With almost 20 months in office now, he has undertaken three trips to Washington and none to Beijing. A quick analysis of Zambia’s debt profile shows that it should be a no brainer for President Hichilema to be more China leaning but he has wasted a lot of precious time pandering to the whims of the boys and girls at the IMF while the Zambian economy deteriorates.
For a man who postulates to be smarter than all of us put together, the manner in which President Hichilema has demonstrated the lack of capacity to understand this straightforward matter is outstanding. We wish to remind President Hichilema is that the G20 Common Frame work was premised on transparency, burden sharing and mutual respect which the boys and girls in Washington have never demonstrated towards China. We also wish to remind him without China on the table, there will be no debt restructuring and without it, this economy will be chocked and will never take off.
To President Hichilema, it is now time to reset our relations with China. Even in kindergarten, we are taught to pick our friend’s well. China has demonstrated throughout our history that it is a good friend to have. It is time to put Zambia’s interests first and end this Chess game.