By Kapya Kaoma
The Zambian Embassy’s duplicitous announcement of the cancelation of President Hichilema’s meeting with U.S President Joe Biden due to Vice President’s Nalumango’s words on homosexuality in Parliament is yet another example of the growing cancerous trend of falsehoods in the baby HH administration.
When I first heard of President HH’s working visit to the U.S, I wondered if his team knew the trip was to attend the useless and ceremonial United Nations General Assembly in New York. But after his team promoted him as among “the select” African leaders to speak at the event, I couldn’t help thinking–are these guys really serious? Then it went from bad to worse! President HH had the most world-coveted meeting with the U.S President Joe Biden at the White House. This would have been a huge deal given that the HH presidency is still in diapers without any record to run on.
As one who has worked on US politics and human rights, my initial response was to follow some White House reporters and the White House Schedule. I didn’t find any planned meeting with the Zambian President. So I am not surprised that the Zambian Embassy in Washington DC. was forced to announce that the meeting is canceled. It is unlikely that there was any meeting planned between President Biden and President Hakainde Hichilema–it was another shameful stunt sold to ignorant Zambians by the government.
If I may educate the baby President team. All diplomatic meetings serve the interests of the President’s nation. In this case, when President Biden agrees to take a meeting with President HH, he has the interests of America at heart–thus he must sell those interests to his people. This is why US diplomatic meetings between heads of States at the White House are a big deal. US Media houses are invited in advance to cover such events. Even when the U.S President travels abroad, the media joins him for that reason. When he takes a call with another foreign leader, the summary is made available to the public.
It betrays logic that the Zambian Embassy should be telling us why the meeting has been canceled, rather than the White House. The White House should announce the reason for the cancelation of the planned meeting with the President of Zambia–if homosexuality is an issue, it would say so. After all, when anti-gay Ugandan Politician David Bahati was disinvited from the meeting during the Obama administration, everyone knew it. So what makes us think that Biden wouldn’t gain political capital by announcing the cancelation of the meeting with a homophobic President of Zambia? The fact that no US media house announced any scheduled meeting between President Hichilema and Joe Biden, but only Plot 1 suggests that it was another narcissistic stunt from team HH.
Unless they are courtesy calls, there’s no reason why President HH should be meeting with President Joe and Vice President Harris separately. But those won’t be full diplomatic meetings or detailed policy oriented meetings. That is why White House meetings take time to plan. In fact, there are many moving parts to them before they are nailed down.
It is saddening that we continue to embarrass our nation to the world by covering up the foolishness of those who are surrounding President HH. The Embassy knows that President HH had no meeting with President Biden. It knows that as per tradition, transcripts of the meeting will be posted on the official website of the White House for every Zambian to see. This is something it can’t cover-up. My fear is that misrepresentation only betrays the trust the outside world puts in our President. It is also a threat to our national security.
Similarly, the claim that President Hichilema is among “the select” leaders to speak at the United Nations General Assembly is equally embarrassing. Who does not know that every head of State–from a maniac like Donald Trump to most inspiring people like President Obama to dictators like Robert Mugabe and Paul Kagame among many others have spoken at the General Assembly? The Bally team may be new, but it needs career diplomats to teach it the basics in International Relations. The General Assembly is the place where nations insult each other. Mugabe took on Trump and Bush. Iran usually takes on Israel and the US–it is boring, but also sarcastic. So Bally’s speech won’t be anything extraordinary but one of the many. The President is in the United States to attend the General Assembly and to do some shopping–“as the youth of Zambia say, Bally will pay.”
President Biden is smart enough to handle HH on homosexuality–he would have allowed reporters to question him. It is foolish to think that President Biden does not know Hichilema’s position on homosexuality; he does. As Second Lady, Dr Biden, now First Lady, visited Zambia and successfully lobbied for the release of the Kapiri-Mposhi couple James and Philip during the Sata administration. Biden has assembled a great team of experts who know HH’s homophobia, including my friend Jessica Stern. Of course, President Biden is dedicated to defending sexual rights, but to think he didn’t know Zambia’s homophobic politics until Vice President Nalumango’s rants in Parliament is crazy. We have been here before–always blame and blame it on gays. Yet they are many countries that have relationships with the U.S and are opposed to gay rights–Saudi Arabia, Uganda, Senegal and Kenya are among them.
My point is, the issue of gay rights has nothing to do with Bally’s failure to honor his campaign promises. He needs to tell people the truth as opposed to deflecting the blame to innocent persons, whose only crime is to be different.
I know Bally wants to build his Christian credentials with bikini pastors after removing their “sacred” Ministry of Religious Affairs. And what else would make him more Christian than shouting:
I promise before God. I didn’t lie.
My failure to provide free education, blame homosexuals.
My failure to increase civil servant salaries, blame gays.
My failure to give you jobs, blame lesbians.
My failure to provide low cost of living, blame transgender individuals.
My brand new Salaula Cabinet; Masebo, Mutati, Musokotwane, and others, please blame queers.
My failure to reduce ubunga to K50, blame inter-sex persons.
My failure to increase the price of maize to 250 per bag, blame bi-sexuals.
My failure to prioritize the Constitution, blame it on gays.
Please believe me. I am your Bally, a Christian President, with a God fearing Vice President, Honorable Nalumango, who has developed amnesia to remember that I, Bally, a.k.a. HH, made these campaign promises in a Christian Nation.
I only promised that, “Bally will fix it!”