By David Zulu.


29th June 2023.

It was evident who the main attraction was at the ‘Summit for the New Global Financing Pact’. The attention he received and the whispers from journalists and fellow participants spoke volumes. Many leaders chose to refer to him by his initials, HH, apparently as a sign of personal attachment.

A few months earlier, President Hichilema had published an Op-ed in the New York Times, where he called out the major powers for disregarding poverty and the debt burden on poor countries, warning that “you can’t eat democracy.”

Later, he emphasized that “debt was like a python around our necks.”

These two statements resonated worldwide and sent a powerful signal about the urgency of addressing the debt issue. It was clear that President Hakainde wasn’t just “the new kid on the block,” but a global leader who had emerged to tackle economic inequalities with major powers on an equal footing, rather than as a subservient partner. The world was paying attention to this President.

As President Hakainde Hichilema’s official vehicle stopped near the steps of Élysée Palace, President Macron warmly embraced him and proclaimed the now famous words, “HH, we have done it!” The French President was referring to the debt restructuring deal that had been concluded between creditor nations and Zambia, with France co-chairing alongside China.

As I sat in the hotel lobby, adorned with a lapel pin in the colors of the Zambian flag, a young man who identified himself as Romanian noticed and approached me. His eyes gleamed with admiration as he spoke earnestly.

“Excuse me, sir,” he began, his voice filled with genuine respect. “If you happen to have the opportunity to convey a message to your President, please let him know that he is undeniably the epitome of cool among African leaders. He is a beacon of hope not only for Africa but for the entire world.”

Moved by his words, the young man clasped his hands together in prayer and cast his gaze towards the heavens, murmuring softly, “May the Lord protect and guide him always.”

The encounter left me speechless. It was evident that the world was well aware of the remarkable qualities and accomplishments of President Hakainde Hichilema, that some individuals within our own nation were choosing to overlook or dismiss. This was a prophetic message delivered by a total stranger.

The following day, the President delivered a powerful unscripted statement at the ‘Summit for the New Global Financing Pact’, which garnered waves of admiration around the world. I saw a few people sniff back tears.

“The President of Zambia went to France to discuss pressing issues affecting his country, secured a debt restructuring deal, and earned the respect of world leaders,” wrote ‘Robinax’ on his Twitter page, while ‘Relavabest’ tweeted, “If your country doesn’t have a President who can address the global community with such boldness and clarity of thought, then you have a problem. Well done, Bally!”

‘Sports Dokita’ tweeted, “Just look at how everyone is quiet, paying undivided attention to Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema as he drops the facts and the truth!” while ‘SALAKO’ wrote, “Every Zambian must be proud to listen to their leader speak like this: presidential poise, articulation, control of the audience, confident demeanor, an unrestricted display of self-esteem, and clarity of speech. This dude is something!”

And back home, it was evident that President Hichilema had dealt a telling blow to his critics. There was remarkable silence for 48 hours, and when the critics did speak up, it was nothing more than empty noise.

(c) DZ

Accueil protocolaire par Catherine Colonna, Ministre de l’Europe et des Affaires étrangères


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