By Dr Canisius BANDA Development Activist
ZAMBIA is now on the edge of a precipice of instability. You see, Zambia’s foreign policy has come off its wheels. It is now on the wrong path. Gradually, and firmly, we seem to be drifting away from our much venerated, almost immutable non-aligned stance. As seen by keen global geopolitical watchers, by allowing an office of AFRICOM to be set up on Zambia’s soil, Zambia is now taking SIDES.
Laying the foundation of the foreign policy of the Africans, Kwame NKRUMAH said: ‘We must neither look East nor West. We must look FORWARD.’ Of course, Hakainde wasn’t there. He missed this lesson. It used to be Zambia FORWARD. But now it seems to be Zambia WEST. It was okay, but what happened?
The foreign policy of the United States of AMERICA is very clear. It put America first and states that America should be the most powerful nation in the world, and no stone should be left unturned in pursuit of this goal and to spread, enhance/further and safeguard its interests. And to secure its INTERESTS, America uses various methods which include, but are not limited to, cultural, political, social and military. AFRICOM is the military wing of the United States of AMERICA aimed at securing these interests of hers through military means on the African continent. Primarily, AFRICOM is not for the benefit of Zambia.
Ambrose LUFUMA, Zambia’s defence minister’s knowledge of this seems parochially dangerous. His recent press statement dated 2 May 2022, arguing in defence of setting up the office of AFRICOM on Zambia’s soil was thoroughly disappointing, un-nationalistic, subservient and bordered on a betrayal of Zambia’s own interests.
The purpose of AFRICOM is as follows: ‘The U.S. Africa Command, with partners, counters transnational threats and malign actors, strengthens security forces, and responds to crises in order to advance U.S. NATIONAL INTERESTS and promote regional security, stability, and prosperity.’
Note that, loosely put, this is akin to Zambia joining NATO. It is similar to opening an office for disorder, for geopolitical chaos. What boggles the mind is why Zambia, after years of peace and quiet, a statutory Christian nation, is now courting disquiet and disaster. AFRICOM, either as an office, barracks or a base MUST not be on Zambia’s soil. PERIOD. Placing AFRICOM’s office on Zambia’s land firmly places Zambia in the crosshairs of all of America’s enemies, and they are not only many but they are powerful as well.
‘We should also be aware that much of the world regards Washington as a terrorist regime,’ cautions Noam CHOMSKY, a renowned public intellectual in his book entitled INTERVENTIONS.
‘Where are you from?’ That was Patrice LUMUMBA, a smile on his face.
Quickly, the smile vanished from his face, in its place was a contortion of disgust, fury and pain.
Refusing to shake my hand, he turned away from me, the way one would from the PLAGUE.
‘How many Zambians have read that book you carry?’ That was Nelson MANDELA, an epitome of freedom but a man that America had, for years, considered a terrorist.
I carried the book, ‘AFRIKA TWASEBANA’ by Simon Mwansa KAPWEPWE. I hang on to it the way human beings hang on to oxygen.
‘I don’t know,’ I honestly answered.
He appeared disappointed, hurt. The others just silently looked at me, their eyes probing, accusing and expectant.
There was Steve BIKO.
There was Thomas SANKARA.
There was Kwame NKHRUMAH.
There was Muammar GADDAFI.
There was Samora MACHEL.
There was Pombe MAGUFULI.
There was Gamal Abdel NASSER.
And many others. I thought I also saw Julia CHIKAMONEKA there.
They all just stared at me, a strong air of sadness pervaded the atmosphere, the occasion clearly sombre and serious, as if their collective dream for the Africans was in peril. To them I seemed to represent TREACHERY, SHAME and FAILURE.
A voice was saying: ‘This is the graveyard of African Heroes, child. It is a treasure trove of freedom, nationalism, sovereignty, identity and Africa’s unity. It is all you need, son. Do NOT look elsewhere for your salvation. Look within you. Use it for your future. It is your armour!’ You see, in everything, the steps we take as individuals, leaders or nations have specific outcomes.
Presently, by opening an office of AFRICOM on its soil, Zambia is not placing itself on the path of peace. It is departing from its required national attitude. Zambia is now in danger of becoming a theatre of war, wars of all types, not war from the liberation of Zambians from the perncious backwardness and poverty, but catastrophic wars between the world’s opposing elephants. Should we maintain this path or national attitude, Zambia’s future is BLEAK indeed.
This dalliance of Hakainde’s with America is going to end badly, it will end in disaster. It will end in regional disunity, domestic pain and tears.
‘You see Canisius, when THESE PEOPLE praise you, get worried. It means that you are not with your people.’ I turned towards the voice. It was Frederick TJ CHILUBA. Respectfully, silently, I nodded.
By opening an office for AFRICOM on Zambia’s soil, Zambia will now firmly be in the crosshairs of America’s enemies. Ipso facto, our NON-ALIGNED status ceases.
This then is how Hakainde HICHILEMA, our own Republican President, has become a national security risk. If the history of America’s military engagement with other nations should inform us about our own future, then a cause/case for grave concern is laid. We must worry.
Zambians must say NO to the presence of AFRICOM on our soil in whatever form. Hakainde HICHILEMA, I have a question for you. As an act of required symbolism by every African, when you went to the Democratic Republic of CONGO, did you lay a wreath of acknowledgement and respect on the grave of Patrice LUMUMBA?
Oh, you didn’t. This is why I have tears in my eyes. And they refuse to be wiped away.
Indeed, aluta continua!