The opposition UPND says the expulsion of the Cuban Ambassador to Zambia Nelson Pages is an act of intolerance to international support for democratic growth in Zambia.
UPND Chairperson for International Relations Mulondwe Muzungu said the unofficial and undiplomatic policy of “Falling on people with divergent views like a ton of bricks” has now been extended to the diplomatic community by President Edgar Lungu.
Ambassador Muzungu said the action further displays the ruling party’s propensity for confusion and miscalculation.
“This is not the first time an envoy of a foreign country has attended a political party meeting. The Patriotic Front itself, while in the opposition, invited the Ambassador of the United States of America then, Mark Storella, to their Party Convention in July 2011. He addressed the conference and congratulated Mr. Michael Sata after delivering his keynote address.”
“What has changed now is that there is a fearful, bullish and insecure presidency in State House that does not tolerate political competitive space. In our view it is a decision that is based solely on hatred of the opposition that has capacity to offer alternative entrepreneurial and visionary leadership as opposed to dictatorial leadership that the Patriotic Front has become,” Ambassador Muzungu said.
He said the decision to expel the envoy was uncalled for and embarrassing to the Zambian people.
“A simple censure of the diplomat was enough if the PF feel so threatened. This expulsion will have far reaching consequences for this country. We all know that Cuba has been one of countries from where Zambia has greatly benefitted. The scholarships, the medical support and many other things that Cuba has provided to Zambia risk being jeopardised because of politics and insecurity,” Ambassador Muzungu said.
“Diplomats interaction with the country is not limited to the Government, it extends to all stakeholders. By stakeholders it means the diplomats are free to interact with everyone they feel has a stake in the running of the country. This is the reason diplomatic missions are structures along the facets of general life i.e. political, economic, trade to mention a few.”
He added,” By its nature such relationship necessitates interaction with all relevant key stakeholders, for short of this, the Diplomatic mission risks being partially informed, misinformed or even ill informed. And it’s because the PF thrives on propaganda that they are uncomfortable with anyone who wants unfiltered information.”
He said President Lungu’s accusation of the Cuban Ambassador having violated the Diplomatic Relations Protocol is wrong for nowhere in the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations is it stated or implied that the initiative such as taken by the Cuban Ambassador was in violation of the Diplomatic Relations Protocol.
“The support the Ambassador offered to the newly established Socialist Party should be seen as moral support to the growth of democracy in general. The intolerance and the dictatorship recklessly being extended to the global community as seen in several actions taken against other foreign dignitaries and officials such as Mmusi Maimane and others are not acceptable. Zambia is not an island. Every effort should be directed at building good relationships with the international community as Zambia is a member of the global community