President Lungu should communicate his long term plan – British High Commissioner to Zambia

ames Thornton – BRITISH High Commissioner to Zambia
James Thornton – BRITISH High Commissioner to Zambia
ames Thornton – BRITISH High Commissioner to Zambia
ames Thornton – BRITISH High Commissioner to Zambia

Outgoing British High Commissioner to Zambia James Thornton has called on President Edgar Lungu to communicate his long term plan for the country’s socio economic development.

Mr Thornton said Lungu’s short term commitment to poverty eradication has not yet born any fruits.

“President Lungu has not yet clearly communicated his long term plan for the country’s socio-economic development. His short term commitment to poverty eradication has not yet born any fruits. His Governments huge appetite for borrowing also disadvantaged the country in the long term,” he said.

Mr Thornton was speaking yesterday on Joy FM’s the Platform Program where he commented on a number of issues including the Barotseland agreement.

On Barotseland
Kenneth Kaunda abrogated the Barotseland agreement and this is why the people of that area feel less Zambian. An independent Barotseland is not economically viable; Zambia needs to continue being a unitary state.

Mr Thornton said Kenneth Kaunda had the face or image of a dictator who destroyed a once vibrant country’s economy and overstayed in power for almost the same period as Mandela was in prison. He said Kaunda was reluctant to leave power but Mandela on the other hand was so quick to leave power that he acquired almost a sainthood image. He added that whatever Kaunda accomplished was taken away by his other failures; hence he could not be viewed in the same way the West view Mandela.

On the late Michael Sata

“Well, Michael Sata was quite a character, he was a strong figure that changed Zambia’s politics for the opposition. However, his presidency was marred by threats on the opposition, bullying diplomats and so on. I remember Mr. Sata phoning me directly complaining as to why I was meeting opposition members. Some of his accusations were true but most of them were false. I blatantly told him I would continue doing my job and reminded him how we used to meet him when he was in the opposition. But I still feel relations between UK and Zambia would have continued because Sata respected the Queen of England. Otherwise he was quite a character.”

Relationship between Zambians and their President

“Time has come for Zambians to stop looking at their Presidents the way subjects look at their chiefs. They are citizens and a President a Chief servant of theirs. Criticising a President could be formal or it can take a less formal path which includes satire or parody if you may like. It is one thing to be respectful but another to say things as they are. Zambians must allow others to express their views on a matter, the way they feel like, the way they see things. That is the only way Zambia’s Democracy would grow.”

On the media
“I hope to see ZNBC running professionally like the BBC. Currently it is not serving the nation the way it is supposed to. It does not also make sense for Government to own two Newspapers. On the other hand it is good to see media diversify in the private sector. I am happy to see the Zambian Watchdog and Zambia Reports have many likes on Facebook. It is also good to see most privately owned Radio Stations give platforms to Zambia’s divergent voices.”


  1. Everything Thornton has said is true but I don’t like the idea of the British telling us or helping us criticise one of our own.Zambia would not be in all the mess it’s in if it wasn’t for the British…Oh I won’t start on colonialism but lets look at fair trade today. They are happy to buy our copper and sell it back to us at expensive prices. Ofcourse that is one of the main things that has perpetuated poverty for the last 50 years leading to perpetuation of corruption,poor systems ,poor leaders etc.They are the ones who started the Barotse nonsense. Before they came we were a collection of tribes and clans living in relative harmony.So don’t you blame KK.He did the best he could with the knowledge and resources he had…Sata was Sata let him rest in peace.

    • A Lungu alibe plan! Edgar has told us repeatedly that he has no plan. People want to squeeze water out of a stone it won’t happen.

    • If an out – going Diplomat from a developing nation was critic to the UK at the point of his exit, he would be labelled all sorts of attacks in the British Media.

      We have seen this before, where a diplomat questions British Foreign Policies and he was ridiculed to the point of Britain cutting off Aid to his nation.

      Thornton & Storella ( former US Ambassador to Zambia ) are in the same Bitter Boat.

      They miscalculated politics. They bought into the idea that Sata would discard the Chinese influence. But Sata took the same root as RB, where RB questioned the USA.

      RB saw that while the USA was discouraging Africans from doing business with China. She the USA was busy borrowing money and doing business with China.

      And Sata realised that he needed China Man.

      Thornton go in…

    • @ Maharaji, no issue with the first statement. The comments that follow may beg other observations. Why sell the copper to them for a song and buy it back at exorbitant price?

      On the Barotse issue, it is put as though they were expected to continue to police the arrangement.

      Museveni while attending a UNIP National convention in the 1980’s once asked,…. Africans complain most times that they were colonised;…. why were you colonised?

    • Which history books did you read. Just thank God for sending the sons of Japhet, the son of Noah to Africa. If it wasn’t them we would still be living very primitive lives, each tribe on its own and very hostile to each other. Thornton is spot on, but most of you blacks are mental retards to comprehend wise advice from a man from a superior race. How can Africa develop with i.diots like you? Boasting nanjala!

    • Maharaj, if Mr. Thornton can read English am sure he has heard you! Don’t be surprised by my comment so many europeans speak English but cannt read/write. Apa peve walasa. Don’t blame KK for the BA1964, you the british are the ones who applied sangwapo and divide and rule tactics, coming to us with a Bible in one hand a gun in the other. Go well Mr. Thornton otherwise tiza luvyanya, siti chedwa ise ka.

    • @ J J which superior race atase inferiority complex! What do you do in the diaspora if not just being wet bed nurse!…malabishi, a very good example of an id!ot is yourself J J. AThornton zipitani bwino bambo!

    • It’s amazing how a sane person could be furious with theses truths about Zambias current Mess.
      Unless the citizens- tax payers get jacked up, stop hero worshiping politicians, demand excellence and upright standing in leadership nothing will change.
      Most Zambians are content because of willful ignorance on how they aught to governed

    • I do not agree with you on the British buying copper and selling finished goods back to us. It is Zambian leaders who have failed to attract investors to set up factories to locally process copper into finished goods. If our government was serious, the Chinese, British, Japanese etc who are big consumers of our raw copper could have long set up companies to process our copper and turn it into finished products which would earn Zambia plenty of forex. The real benefit would have been job opportunities for our people and possible cheaper finished products. If maize is shipped from Kasempa to Lusaka and back to Kasempa to be sold at higher prices, what more copper baba????

    • Everyone must remember that Thornton is not cadre so he’ll tell it as it is. We have never heard of any plan from Lungu on how he will improve the lives of Zambians. We have never heard him tell us the current unemployment rate and how much he will reduce this by when he leaves office. Everything is on auto pilot. Give us timelines with your concrete targets not just mere rhetoric…president Sata this, president Sata that, RB this, RB that…

      We should move away from this culture of defensiveness and living in denial or else we will not improve our country. If life is in terrible shape in Zambia, we should accept it and work harder to improve the situation including taking to task our politicians who want these positions so badly

    • Sad but true … perhaps Mr Thornton’s comments reflect Zambia’s level of “development”. The only positive is that Mr Thornton had the “freedom” to say that publically without being “harassed” – unthinkable during KK, LPM and Sata regimes. Only FTJ, RB and ECL can “tolerate” what Mr Thornton has, correctly, surmised about Zambia!

  2. Please we are no longer your subjects…. just go to Zimbabwe and you be sorted out in the appropriate manner . .muzungu wopusa

  3. Frankly, I have not seen where Thornton speaks about Lungu. That said, Britain is also not a perfect nation and also views the Queen in the same manner subjects view their chiefs. That said, on David Cameron, David is quite a rich little fella who thinks he can match the mantle of Tony Blair (evidently, he cannot).
    On Thatcher, we cannot view her as a hero because this woman (praise god she is dead), supported the apartheid regime in South Africa calling it a “good means of neighborliness”.
    Ambassadors have a problem, they start to think they are in the business of regime change when they are not.

    • I agree with EX_UPND. I wont be surprised if the Ambassador denies the story tomorow. Something fishy about this story. Britain has its own plate of problems. There is no country under the earth that is not having problems including power cuts!. This write up has been sensationalised to make Lungu feel bad and HH good.

    • @EX-UPND- Actually “Hero” can mean both male and female. “Heroine” is quite a new terminology. So I stand Uncorrected! Thanks.

  4. You are a very useless white chap that’s why you are outgoing because we can’t condone to your stupidity white fool..

    • “You are a very useless black chap that’s why you are outgoing because we can’t condone to your stupidity black ****..” Id call a white person saying that a racist *****, thus you are one as well.

  5. I think the muzungu is spot on. Our President is a miss. We have never had a president under PF. Our former president was a ghost worker. The current seems to be every where but never present

  6. Such people don’t need to be kept in the country for so long they can bring confusion, we are a peaceful nation and we proud of that..

  7. We do not need you to tell us that Lungu has no plan. We are mature enough and have listened to his speeches.

    We know that he has no vision except the vision of the dead which he is using. So go well sir we will deal with our no vision president sir. Good bye.


    • Even if we are hardcore cadres, at times let us be open minded about criticism. We need to start thinking outside the box. Positive criticism is an eye opener to make us take corrective measures where needed. Not everyone who has divergent ideas is UPND or any other opposition parties. On media, I totally agree with the Diplomat. ZNBC must be professional and not partisan.

    • Your bitterness against Sata makes you sound so sick and depraved how can you continue hating someone so much even after his death, did he insult yo mother or took yo wife or is it that he beat you to the presidency.. shame. He is gone just fight yo own battles otherwise yo under 5 will never rule

  9. Thornton.. your government has no plans on Europe trying to have it both ways. Maybe you should go and help out.

    Just two days ago, Cameron threatened his cabinet that if anyone of his ministers did support him on Europe, They Would Be Fired.

    What a load of crap coming from Cameron. And it has back fired on him

    David Cameron keeps being treated like a small school boy by Angela Merkel.

    She is like the president of Europe and he Cameron is a Small Provincial Prime Minister, always crying for a better deal for his people on the British Isles.

  10. Lungu has no plan in terms of the economy. Absolutely none. His plan however is to hold on to power. It shouldnt take a non Zambian to tell us the president is not above criticism. This attitude of our president can do no wrong is going to kill us. And yes ba PF your loans that you have pocketed have indeed disadvantaged our country, in the long term.

  11. A white man talking bullsheet,.was he drunk or somethin..He si such a useless introverse bully.,Even during colonial era Britain never meant well for Zambia..Plzz let this man Zambia before we insult him nd pipo that sent him forth..

    • Its the same white men who opened your eyes and taught you how to express your thoughts in writing. Without them we wouldn’t know how to write our names or dates of our birth. The cars we drive, houses we live in, roads we move on, cellphones and computers we use daily for communication, clothes we wear, and many more things we enjoy today are all products of their civilisation. Black muntus!

    • You seem not know your history; white man taught you how to write? What do you think those writings in Egyptian Pyramids are that date back as far as 10000 years.

      Wake up from your docility and study about self !!

    • Wrong, its you who is so ignorant about your history. Egyptian civilisation does not date back to 10,000 years. Remember Egyptians are descendants of Mizraim, one of the four sons of Ham, the son of Noah. Mizraim had three bothers, Cush from whom came the Ethiopians, Phut the father of Libya and all the berbers of North Africa, Canaan the father of the Canaanites (e.g. Sidon from whom came Lebanon). Do you know Karim Benzema or Zinedine Zidane, those are berbers, relatives of the Egyptians who built the pyramids not you and me. We have nothing to do with that civilisation.

    • JJ don’t be so dull, those things we would have developed them and we were in the process actuall Europe simply underdeveloped us. Plz don’t show yo ignorance

  12. The problem in Zambia as long as a white man expresses a personal view then it becomes the gospel truth. No. Again its only in Zambia where a diplomat is allowed to poke their noses on issues they least understand. Colonial mentality.

  13. Obatala Anabwera,
    Stop the nonsense you are vomiting and just go to sleep. You are not in Zambia. Enjoy the fruits of being where you are.

  14. It is better to live in an African illusion than in the stupid British illusion.
    Go back to your home Slave trader..

  15. Thornton you are very patronising. Typical of the British who think they still run the empire. Its shameful for you to call Mandela a hero. Where were you when you Margaret Thatcher called him a terrorist? Where were you when KK fought for his release? Barotseland? What about your bloody war in Ireland and you problems with Scottish nationalism? Its this same silly foreign policy of yours that has messed up Afghanistan, Iraq and recently Libya. Every country has a share of its problems so don’t behave like you have never had any where you come from. STOP this name calling because you don’t do it in the UK and STOP thinking for us because we know our leaders better than you do. If Zambian leaders were as bad as you have painted them you would have been on the next plane home by now.

    • @Judy, I am with you all the way! It hates some of these “colonialists” that KK’s strong leadership to unite the country and spearhead the liberation of Southern Africa works as a perfect example that Africa can produce committed and patriotic leadership worth emulating. The Mandela the chap is talking about came to Zambia as the first country he visited after coming out of prison to come and thank KK. Let this chap go away from Zambia and leave us in peace! KK tried his best with resources that were available at that time.Most country’s in Sub-Sahara Africa face the same problems as we face including those where they planted stooges! KK opened up the country to usher it into reasonable modernity it is up to us to move on from he left and not listening to these detractors.

  16. Nothing but the whole truth, exactly what’s lacking in Zambia, the truth.
    We keep pretending we have made it and we keep worshiping politicians.
    This man has been among us for a short while and has seen our illusions, stupidity and lack of willingness to think critically to change our mess.

  17. Very clear message but ‘Zambians’ as usual, we don’t like the truth and ONLY the devil doesn’t like the truth. . . because the truth shall set you free but the devil doesn’t want you to be free. . . cry my beloved country

  18. Are you becoming another DOG tabloid? Thornton has not talked about Lungu at all but look at your headline ba makaka

    • The problem we have in Zambia, we want to defend the indefensible. Since Lungu came into power has he talked about any policies that he intends to put in place to improve the economy? The guy is busy paying back the people who propped him in financially during the elections at the expense of you tax payers. Please wake Zambians, utulo. In UK, electorates are masters of politicians and not servants.

  19. What Thornton is saying is that Lungu and PF have no plan. This is what I have also observed because so far it is only chimpantempante. H.E. E.C. Lungu has not addressed the nation, through a press conference, to enable us know where he is taking us. The cost of living is high, poverty has not reduced, access to education still a challenge because of high school fees, fuel is expensive, zesco tariffs high, kwacha has failed to gain strength, contractors unpaid, borrowing too much etc.

    The President is not a king, like in the UK, but he is supposed to be our servant. Remember Mr. M.C. Sata used to kneel, showing he is a servant of the Zambian people.

    Do not condemn the diplomat but react to what he has said, and point out where you are in disagreement instead of making blanket…

    • @be objective, you are 1000% correct on this one. We as Zambians tend to live in denial even though things have gone to the dogs in Zambia. We will not improve if we do not look at the wrongs that others have identified.

      Leaders in Zambia are usually shielded by cadres who tell them what they want to hear that all is well leaving out the obvious mess of a life that most Zambians are living

  20. Are we supposed to be taking lessons on democracy from former slave owners and colonialists? God forbid!!!!

  21. Spot on Ambassador keep the fire burning as you go. This country needs effective leadership for our your democracy to grow otherwise we will lose all the progress we had gained through past leaders. Speak up when they do astray and fear not the majority of us want progress!

  22. If it were pilATO saying that, ati mugwileni for ‘defamation’, then change to ‘copy right infringement’ then to ‘conduct likely to cause breach of peace’. . . how much is jameson in your area?

  23. @kapolyo. You take lessons from anyone-that is wisdom. You listen to what someone says-if it makes sense, use it. By the way, the former slave owners and colonialists are years and years ahead of us in development; therefore take keen interest to what they are saying. Argue on the issues!

  24. Surely praising the likes of Zambian watchdog…shame go and go in double tongue..

    By the way its unacceptable to talk ill of the person who is long gone (he cant defend himself)…

    Sir, hope you are not just bitter coz your relative (guy skot) was booted out of high rank political field…

  25. What is this British guy trying to say about our Zambia… Britain and the USA or any of the so called western countries should be the last ones to play the role of moral judge over Zambian/African affairs… Look out there and see how much pain/injustices they have caused.

    To hell, Mr. whatever! I would rather listen to HH or RB and maybe uncle Bob moralizing about Zambia.

  26. Zambians like hero worshipping too much. Already several bloggers have talked about hh as if he is the best Zambia has ever had and yet the guy is still under5.

  27. Half of what he said is true. He has left out the role great Britain had in the mess on this planet though. Anyway the president really needs to layout his plan for the next five years. Plus he needs to drop 7 ministers that are close to useless.

    Viva President Nawakwi.

  28. Fair comments as the only time we hear Lungu speak is when he is appointing someone. He had not said anything about the economy. We worship presidents like Chiefs. A president should be able to visit his local bar or market to be like us . But awe mwandi president mu Africa in lesa

  29. Mr Thornton should have known that Zambia cannot be compare with Britain. The democracy in Britain has been practicesd much long than in Zambia. Its like comparing himself with his own son on how they manage their homes.

    I am sure he would not criticise his son or someone learning openly as he did. I am sure he would have not made those comments if Dr Guy Scott was still in the government. I have lived in Europe for the past 15 years and I know that Mandela is considered highly, as a hero because he did not touch a whiteman`s skin ( he did not go for revenge instead he dinned with those who even supported his jail sentence). Because he let them go free, they call Mandela a hero because he spared a whiteman from punishment. He blames KK because the british were not happy because of…

  30. @Mfumukadzi
    I have lived in the UK for 12 yrs now, never experienced a power cut. Why do generalize problems? Power cuts exist in Africa, particularly Zambia. The problems faced in the UK are subtle. In Zambia, Lungu is failing to solve basic issues.

  31. I would like to advise my fellow Zambians to seriously view Mr Thornton with suspicions and check out the motives behind his comment.

    The Zambian government is very democratic, I live in Europe and there is no way a non-european can make such a comment and left to go freely. Mr Thornton is speaking because Dr Scott is out of government. With a whiteman in government, Britain was silent when President Sata ruled the country. Today, he calls him a character indeed and he gives an issue difficult to prove because the person is no longer there. If feel like he insulted all Zambians who voted President Sata, a hard working, selfless person, may he soul rest in peace and let Mr Thornton go in peace too but one day he will ask for God`s forgiveness for not choosing right words.

    • Oh please get lost. Zambians living in the UK are free to vote or stand for elective office just like all citizens of commonwealth countries. Please take your lies somewhere else.

  32. How can he? A man with no vision and no leadership skills! Hires dull ministers and expects them to do miracles. It just can’t work! Ministers stealing left, right and center but does nothing because he gets a cut. There is a long history which is pretty apparent like Mulenga Sata, Kambwili, Rupia Banda and the list goes on. We have a member in his party who almost fatally shot someone yet they harassed and prosecuted the victim further inflicting victimization. This is where I ask the public if really Edgar Lungu graduated and passed law and really underwent the law bar exam. Things are plummeting, they’re borrowing beyond being capable of paying these loans back, its just a mess! Corruption beyond capacity is where and what we have in our hands. No healthcare, no proper schools. OMG!

  33. Sadly everything this man has stated is so true, I’m sure he will receive a call from Foreign Office London telling him to tone down, its no secret Lungu is an vision-less empty tin handpicked by the corrupt political elite.
    Now Thornton come back to the UK and enjoy public transport no more chauffeur driven jags and weekends in Luangwa or Kafue Nation Park.

  34. Everyone must settle down. He is just giving us his opinion. Some we agree with and some we don’t. But we all have individual opinions. Zambians will only be affected by whatever rules our own government creates. Also be careful talking about slavery and the white perpetrators because Africans played a part by selling their own people. The Zulus in South Africa fought wars against the British while other tribes sold their people into slavery.
    Again when you wake up tomorrow your life will not be affected by Mr. Thornton’s opinions but by our government’s rules. Don’t worry, be happy.

    • Yeah, and one very foolish man said he had a vision of universities in all provinces, free education, jobs for all, top class medical institutions in all districts, plus plus – in 18 months!

  35. I take statements by British High Commissioners with a pinch of salt, to me their behaviour is as contradictory as the Past News. I will let my fellow Zambians deal with Mr Thornton, which I can see they are doing a damn good job of it, for and against!
    The only thing I am impressed with about this guy’s statement is that he has pointedly left out the Past News in his praise of the private media. If he had praised the Past news I would have gone to town on him and his statements, word for word. To me this says a lot about the Past News and Mmembe and makes my day!

  36. I have just read this account of my remarks on JoyFM. Unfortunately it does not reflect what I actually said.

    I did not call on the President to communicate his long-term socio-economic plan. I did say that it would help Zambia’s development if the nation as a whole developed a clearer long-term plan. I praised what Edgar Lungu said in his inauguration speech about poverty eradication. I said government borrowing for projects benefitting development was OK, and that I was pleased the Finance Ministry was drawing up a debt management strategy.

    I did not say that Michael Sata’s Presidency was marred by oppression of the opposition and bullying of diplomats.

    I did not call KK a dictator. I did refer to his role in creating a sense of national identity. I did not say that whatever…

  37. 2/2: my reply got cut in half!

    I did not say that KK’s accomplishments were detracted from by his failures. I did not talk about him “overstaying” in power.

    I talked about governments being the servants of their people, but did not refer to the President in this regard. I did refer in general terms to the importance of freedom of speech and assembly.

    I said my aim was to support good governance and development in Zambia. I did not support one party or another.

    I emphasised how much I had enjoyed serving in Zambia.

    In general I am disappointed that my comments were so misrepresented.

    James Thornton, British High Commissioner

  38. Please advise the next British High Commissioner to prioritise assistance to improve English lessons (reading and comprehension) in our schools………huh?

  39. On a more serious note Mr High Commissioner, I suggest that you hold back your comments until the Past News release their version of your statement tomorrow morning. I am reliably informed that the editor in chief has just completed vetting and editing, and twisting to suit his style, the script for tomorrow’s publication.

  40. What an inaccurate report! We listened to the live interview on Joy FM. Most of the things written here are just the author’s view. The High Commissioner never said those things you have claimed about KK , Sata or even ECL. Why demonise the High Commissioner?Where is your integrity as a reporter? Your understanding of the English language is shallow. Next time just upload the raw recorded interview and we shall judge for ourselves. Don’t feed us with lies.

    • Well said! I have had first-hand experience of how reporters can misquote, twist and manipulate a story to sensationalise it! Lusaka Times – you are a disgrace to the press society and you should be held accountable for your inaccurate and harmful reporting!

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