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Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Full Speech by the U.S. Ambassador Daniel Foote on the Governance Issues in Zambia

Columns Full Speech by the U.S. Ambassador Daniel Foote on the...

United States Ambassador To Zambia Daniel Foote
United States Ambassador To Zambia Daniel Foote

Mulibwanji, nakulandilani. My wife Claudia, son Danny, my Embassy colleagues, and I extend our warmest welcome to you, as we observe the 243rd anniversary of the independence of the United States of America.

The United States and Zambia share values, ideals, and dreams for our people. My country has long been Zambia’s top bilateral donor by a large margin, through direct, non-debt assistance, which comes at no cost—ZERO, ever—to the Zambian people. Our partnership has transformed your health sector, most notably saving the lives of over a million of our HIV-affected brothers and sisters. The $500 million per year we provide touches millions more through development, education, youth and exchange programs, conservation, our work to attract investment, and in many other areas. And that doesn’t count the exceptional impact by scores of private American philanthropic organizations.

Let me admit that U.S. democracy and government are far from perfect. We constantly experience challenges and difficulties, but we are strengthened by differing viewpoints. We will not impose our values, but we will encourage aspiring partners to strengthen their sovereignty, and realize the benefits of free markets and individual liberty. Since arriving in your beautiful Republic, I have always said that my job is not to tell Zambia what to do or how to do it. I believe my government’s work is to identify mutual interests with Zambia, and join forces with your government, people, and cooperating friends to work toward our shared goals. But partnerships must go both ways.

Once upon a time, a wise father, tired of his seven sons not working together, summoned the boys. He showed them a bundle of seven spears wrapped together with string, and commanded, “Break them.” Each son tried by himself, straining and straining, but none were able to break the bundle. “Untie the bundle,” said the father, “and each of you take a spear.” When they had done so, he called out to them: “Now, break,” and each spear was easily broken when they worked TOGETHER.

My message today: “A stronger Zambia-U.S. partnership—TOGETHER—means a better Zambia!”

During my time here, I’ve come to see that the impact of American support to your people could be greatly enhanced by a much stronger, reciprocal commitment by the Zambian government to our relationship. By deepening, and better enabling, not just Zambia’s, but also America’s hopes for our partnership, I am certain that TOGETHER, by promoting our shared values and goals, we can markedly boost Zambia’s progress, to our mutual benefit.

I’ve been blessed to visit all 10 Zambian provinces. I have talked with people across the country, from all backgrounds, classes, and political affiliations. We’ve discussed their needs, challenges, fears, opportunities, and frustrations. I’ve found that despite our differences, we are extremely similar in our humanity, and we are frustrated when our voices go unheard. Please allow me to share some universal desires expressed by my Zambian friends, and a few ideas for progress toward each, which coincidentally align closely with American beliefs.

We all want good governance that effectively utilizes resources and improves the lives of our families.

As I watch Zambia’s reputation as a strong democracy slip in international reporting, I fear it’s partly driven by divisive politics and a sub-optimal focus on the welfare of the Zambian people. Zambians tell me they are sick of the political-party cadres, corruption, and the daily political attacks—from all sides. I would say this regardless of who is in power; the United States supports no political party over any other. We do firmly support the will of Zambian citizens expressed through free, fair, and transparent democratic processes.

Idea: Zambia’s people want politicians and leaders to be more responsive to the needs of all citizens, and to focus less on constant “campaigning,” and the narrow political and economic interests of connected individuals. We all want our governments to be transparent and accountable.

People can’t freely participate when governments are not open about their affairs. Non-transparent contracting and debt acquisition are imposing problematic debt, fueling corruption, and limiting the options for citizens to determine their futures. Zambia has every right to maintain diplomatic and commercial relationships with any country. Many Zambians believe, however, that their country should be careful about becoming beholden to autocratic nations that act chiefly in their own interests, limit fundamental freedoms and human rights, censor information available to their people, persecute religious minorities, and muzzle the media in their own countries. Also, we are all aware of instances of budgeted funds, not to mention donor assistance, diverted for corrupt personal or political use.

Idea: By providing citizens better access to government dealings, such as by enacting the Freedom of Information bill, by publishing debt and procurement arrangements, and by requiring and disclosing reports on the assets of government officials, Zambia could significantly mitigate corruption and improve trust.

We all want economic prosperity and better opportunities for our children and ourselves.
To that end, I constantly receive requests to help attract more American money to Zambia. To invest, American businesses require stability, predictability, and a clean, level playing field. They face grave U.S. legal consequences for “donations,” or bribery, to expedite deals, often creating competitive disadvantages. Zambia could be a world leader in tourism, largely through conservation investment. But right now, you’re losing the key to that touristic expansion to poaching—of your natural endowment of elephants, lions, lechwes, etc.—and the reported complicity of a few bad officials from the Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW) stains DNPW’s name. American and international conservation investors, with tens to hundreds of millions of dollars, and major community development plans, at the ready, are regularly met by ever-changing requirements, unnecessary bureaucratic hurdles, stall tactics, and worse, at every step.

Idea: Zambia could better attract American investors by creating a more business-friendly climate, minimizing corruption, offering incentives, and establishing stable tax regimes that enable investors to adequately plan and profit from their risk.

Idea: Without sufficient political commitment, resources, and effective DNPW leadership and partnerships, many of Zambia’s iconic species face rapid extinction, which would cripple the key economic-growth pillar of increased tourism.

Everyone wants to enjoy universal human rights and freedoms.

Some of our fundamental rights, freedoms, and individual choices include speech, press, assembly, religion, opinion, and lifestyle. Disinformation has been around as long as human society, but fair, mature societies accept that free speech protects the vast majority of expression and strengthens democracy. While I admit that the term “fake news” probably originated in the United States, using that as an excuse to suppress or persecute individuals and media organizations for expressing dissenting opinions goes against both our countries’ constitutions and ideals.

Idea: All democracies should remember that we must withstand criticism and accusations, which are best refuted through positive words and actions, rather than unproductive attacks, harassment, censure, or imprisonment.

As I said before, “A stronger Zambia-U.S. partnership—TOGETHER—means a better Zambia!”

I believe you have a saying in Nyanja to help me express that thought: Chala chimodzi sichitola nsabwe. For us non-Nyanja speakers…“One finger cannot pick lice.” TOGETHER, we accomplish much more.

Zikomo kwambiri! Thank you very much!


To the good health and long life of His Excellency President Edgar Chagwa Lungu, to the United States of America, and to Zambia. May the friendship and partnership between our nations continue to grow.

Remarks by U.S. Ambassador Daniel L. Foote
Independence Day Reception
U.S. Chief of Mission’s Residence, Lusaka, Zambia

June 27, 2019

By U.S. Embassy Zambia |


  1. Fix Zambia’s rotten governance and US aid of $500m per year will be a thing of the past.Well said ambassador Foote.

    • Right on Ambassador Foote, right on. I know what Godfridah Sumaili is doing. She’s praying to God for good governance. Now you don’t pray for good governance; you just go ahead and practise it. Give God a break.

    • Very clear, the Ambassador is telling us PF govt is corrupt and inept. The Ambassador is speaking from a point of good intel. The Pompwetic Front better heed. I would recommend target sanctions against the PF thieves starting from the one who stole a client’s money and was disbarred by LAZ

    • Thank you ambassador Foote. You have highlighted some extremly cardinal points. This corrupt, greedy leadership needs to hear this.

    • WISE WORDS, Zambians are sick and tired of corrupt selfish leaders with No VISION. It takes we Zambians to have a MindSET change. Let us not accept their nonsense Vitenjes, CHIBUKU, Ma K50 and T-shirts for Votes. PF needs Opposition and should listen to what others say. You can’t have Ministers boasting of stealing for their future and it’s taken as NORMAL???.
      Good Speech and some Good Proverb Mr. Ambassador.

    • Really laughable …and UNZA senate awarded that lazy bum with a honorary degree for his good work in Good Governance…PF I dare you to deport this ambassador!!

    • Where is our ‘doctorate in Good Governance” to respond to this? You have been challenged in your area of “expertise” by Foote….kikikikikikik…

  2. True that Zambia has governance issues under Lungu but also USA has governance issues have under dictator Donald Trump.

    • True Zambia’s democracy is not perfect, but is trying. @ Jay Jay, I think you’re such a big a**hole. Your ci HH will never see the inside of State House, you can mark my words!

    • James Mukuka

      Respond to the concerns raised by the Americans. When the USA voices concerns, that means the whole western world…….any normal leader would respond to such a speech if only to show the nation that he is in control

    • He needs to respond because his area of expertise “Good Governance”, to which he has a doctorate for, has been challenged by Foote…kikikikikikik..Academically the “Dr” needs to response..kikikikiki

  3. Corruption ,mismanagement , tribal attacks and political intolerance are at the hieghest under lungu….

    Lungu and his ministers think donating unaccounted for wealth to people made poor in the first place because of PF corruption and mismanagement is good governance.

  4. Our government needs serious people, people with a vision, right now we have business men who are running the country to benefit themselves and not the common man.

    • I think the current government is TRYING to do something ‘to benefit the common man’. It’s the opposition in this country WHICH IS BASICALLY TRASH!

  5. Agreed Ambassador, excellent speech.
    But please trib.al upnd, this advice applies squarely to you as it does to PF! If you have missed that then you have lost trib.als!!

    • Hehehehe…….

      As some one quoted on another thread some thing like…….

      ” the trees voted for the axe thinking because the handle was made of wood, the axe was one of them , only to all get chopped down ……..”

  6. I have just seen a picture of a female trib.al clad in red, haven’t read the story but the headline seems to suggest a celebration of what Ambassador Daniel Foote has said. But all truth be said, trib.als like upnd have absolutely no right to celebrate anything on good governance. How could they when just being a trib.al, leading a trib.al party which has a trib.al objective is bad enough. Before we even look at other things like trib.al dictatorship, trib.al conventions or a lack of any convention at all. Trib.al upnd cannot hold a convention simply because it contravenes or threatens their trib.al strategies and objectives deposited in one man.
    Sorry guys, yours is a perpetual dream, for no Zambian dreams of giving you power!

    • Hehehehehe…….

      UPND are not in power, UPND are not responsible for the suffering of Zambians, as hard as you may try to deflect blame from your lungu and his gang, Zambians know who are incharge badala….

    • At 9, I agree with you entirely. Tell these UPND blind followers. Tribalism will take them nowhere.

    • Look at this dull coward PF rat upnd cader now posting as

      @9.2 Raymond Phiri

      You are too dull to dupe us

  7. Leaders must meditate upon this speech in respect order to fight corruption in peoples’ hearts.

    • Why, because it has been uttered by a muzungu? Critically analyze that speech and you will sniff out words uttered by a bully from a bully federation. At least the so called “autocratic state” practices win–win diplomacy not your winner takes all diplomacy you American opportunists. Clearly you have overstepped your boundaries young boy Forte, we will put you on the next plane for yapping careless governance advice under the influence of jim beam. Aren’t you the same cats that have implemented racist immigration policies? And now you talk brotherhood? Very laughable. Tiyeni uko.

    • As Dambisa correctly put in a book, take your “dead aid” we don’t need it, we are good. The autocratic state is helping us build a whole lot of infrastructure and giving our people jobs hahaha. Funny Americans.

  8. Most Zambians are aware of everything that Ambassador Foote said, in fact he just repeated what the people have told him. Even Shushushu know what the people are saying. The people’s conclusion is that the PF is the most greedy and kleptomaniac Govt. They are ready to show Edgar the way to Chawama, but even there people don’t want him back!

  9. Generally, the message is fair. He mentioned that not even USA’s democracy of over 243 years can be said to be perfect. He has also crowned the same by saying he is NOT demanding that we go it his way but to consider the advice in the message. I agree with him especially on the corruption issue because the vice only makes life expensive. An example is where at all bus stations groups of people collect money from bus operators and the POLICE are aware and have done nothing hence the fares cannot be considered downwards because of this cost. Just yesterday someone wanted me to give them K10 for delivering a door to a carpentry shop at a market which could have raised the cost of business. I refused to pay them and they threatened to sort me out.

  10. Wait for the defender and spokes persons for corruption Dollar Slit to respond. She is being busy preparing a senseless defensive report instead of addressing the issues raised.

  11. Great speech Ambassador but ba PF niba nshimwebwa, they simply don’t give a hoot about anything as long as they are reaping where they didn’t sow. Ba Pompwetic Front (lol) as Obatala puts it, are just that…..ba pompwe!!

  12. Most of what he said, we already know. We have been calling for ages for those in power to change their ways – well at least until they are kicked out.

    But there was also a veiled suggestion in that speech that Zambia should not be dealing with ‘rogue states’ that do not respect rights. The ‘partnership’ emphasis also reveals that the reference was to China. There is worry there, about America’s diminishing influence in Africa and China riding ‘rough shod’ over African regimes by offering enslaving loans at every whim.

    • One is an imperial master par excellence(USA), the other one is development partner for life(China). Since 1960’s the PRC has helped us develop infrastructure(beginning with tazara). Nanga aba ba mambala aside from weighing us down with dubious imperial loans. I for one don’t listen to slippery cunning ambassadors from “superior” entitled Countries whose citizens can’t even point out Zambia on the map.

  13. “All democracies should remember that we must withstand criticism and accusations, which are best refuted through positive words and actions, rather than unproductive attacks, harassment, censure, or imprisonment”.

  14. Good at giving us lectures on governance, when the truth is they can’t stand to see a strong, United African continent because it would mean a threat to their status of global supremacy.

    Meanwhile millions of our black brothers and sisters have been used, refused and left up to dissipate in a vain shadow of delusion in a vicious system of physical and mental slavery.

  15. Thank you Ambassador Foote. The speech made very apt and and imperative points to observe and work on. Good diplomacy complete with fact and charm, thanks for the Zambian language effort!

    There is a little of all issues afflicting Zambias’ progress. Primarily, the desire of the people for a peaceful coordinated multi party political environment that is more about a united Zambia working together than a self promoting charismatic leadership vehicle. Parties that use continuous campaigning to grab attention are not democratic. Totally agree with and support ambassadors’ observation on; ‘Providing citizens better access to government dealings, such as by enacting the Freedom of Information bill, by publishing debt and procurement arrangements, and by requiring and disclosing…

    • ‘Providing citizens better access to government dealings, such as by enacting the Freedom of Information bill, by publishing debt and procurement arrangements, and by requiring and disclosing reports on the assets of government. Agreed!

      We desperately NEED TRANSPARENCY on ALL matters relating to our resources to prevent or rather control corruption. This has been a problem historically. After colonial mugging, we are now mugged by our own appointed officials.

      America’s welcome, you just need to get along with China on our soil…..keep the boxing gloves off!

  16. Just accept that you have been pointed out.Spliting hairs trying for anything to dampen the shame will not change the way you are now percieved by your donors.Dont try to be the West and also China only when it suits you

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