Former Permanent Representative to the African Union, Amb. Emmanuel Mwamba has called upon President Hakainde Hichilema not to rush in allowing the opening of the proposed security office by the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) in Zambia.
Mr. Mwamba stated that he learnt with deep concern following an announcement that indicated that the AFRICOM will open a security office at the USA Embassy in Zambia.
Mr. Mwamba appealed to President Hichilema to learn lessons from the last four presidents; President Levy Mwanawasa, President Rupiah Banda, President Michael Sata and President Edgar Lungu why they resisted to accept such a proposal from the United States.
He said Zambia promotes a non-aligned policy and is encouraged to seek economic, social and military cooperation with all powers including the USA, Russia, China and others.
He also said both the African Union and SADC have exoressed concern about AFRICOM and have resisted the establishment of proposed USA military bases and security offices in Africa.
He said it was for this reason that AFRICOM still operates from its Headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany and not from the African soil.
Mr. Mwamba said AFRICOM was formed by the United States government in 2007 together with the Millennium Challenge Account, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief ( PEPFAR) and AFRICOM.
He said African leaders accepted the operations of the social and health programmes but took caution with AFRICOM.
Mr. Mwamba said Africa and SADC have been developing a Standby Force and SADC Brigade and it is envisaged that Zambia will support its military activities under the African Union framework and its security architecture.
He said this allows the countries to seek military-to-military partnerships and cooperation from a wide ranging of staholders and powers than promoting one hegemonic or dominant power such as the United States.
He appealed to President Hichilema to consult widely on the matter so that all security, military and regional concerns that have been raised by the African Union and SADC were taken into account before the military-to-military partnership with the US AFRICOM was signed and established in Zambia.
He said he is aware that Zambia, like Liberia and Botswana and are other countries have done, can make its own decisions regardless of the view of other member states, but he encouraged President Hichilema to study the matter diligently before rushing into signing the Agreement and allowing the security office.
Mr. Mwamba has written a detailed article about the matter explaining the history and concerns expressed by the African Union and SADC about US AFRICOM.
On April 25, the U.S. government announced that U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) will open an Office of Security Cooperation at the U.S. Embassy in Zambia.
Visiting AFRICOM Brigadier General Peter Bailey, Deputy Director for Strategy, Engagement, and Programs, made the announcement during a meeting with His Excellency President Hakainde Hichilema.