Socialist Party leader, Fred M’membe and his ilk have never missed an opportunity to lampoon President Hakainde Hichilema as a puppet of the West – a spineless leader controlled by imperialists somehow perched in air-conditioned offices in Western capitals.
“A puppet government can never deliver meaningful development to its people,” M’membe would repeat his assertions to his audience at the Africa-Russia simmit July 27, 2023 in Saint Petersburg.
However, those close to Hichilema would attest that he’s definitely a push-over as one would assume. He’s actually a strong willed individual with an exceedingly solid character coupled with impressive negotiating skills. This explains why he was always a much sought-after dude in the village by several corporations and organisations desperate to have him preside upon their affairs as Board Chairman even though he was already preoccupied with other engagements as business executive, politician and farmer!
M’membe is clearly peeved with Hichilema’s seemingly recalibration of our foreign policy towards the West. There’s no system of governance which is perfect. Capitalism has advantages and disadvantages; equally, Socialism has its gigantic share of flaws……many of them shockingly alarming! Would it then be wise for our nation to align herself with regimes which have no problem committing atrocities and repressing dissenting views? Doesn’t a person championing such causes therefore qualify for a place at the high table in the hall of muppets?
It’s common knowledge that the PF regime maintained an unashamedly pro East policy where the leadership has obviously got a completely different understanding of democracy. PF leaders were more than happy to make frequent trips to China to procure enormous loans, with their eyes closed of course, for a myriad of infrastructure projects, including solar powered hammer mills which have turned out to be white elephant projects! The new dawn administration is now left with no choice, but to deal with the elephant in the room – dismantle the suffocating debt bequeathed to it by the previous regime.
The Chinese government was equally eager to disburse grants to this otherwise poorer nation, totally oblivious of the flagrant violation of human rights at the time: police brutality – detainees were tortured and detained on flimsy grounds and denied bail; the private media constantly suffered strangulation – popular Prime TV station was suffocated while the equally people’s favourite, The Post Newspapers suffered a similar fate as other entities such as Komboni Radio endured constant threats of closure; shrinking democracy – leaders of the opposition such as the current president were not allowed to hold rallies while his members were brutalised with impunity…..they either suffered gun shot wounds or had their eyes gorged out, and limbs hacked off. Some of them even met the cold hand of death at the hands of the brutal PF cadres!
As dictatorship reared-up it ugly head on our soil and flourished; the East conviniently chose to remain mute! We doubt whether the West would condone such.
Let us now migrate to other countries where M’membe’s ideology is being implemented. According to Freedom House, a human rights organisation, power in Russia’s authoritarian political system is concentrated in the hands of one man – his almighty Vladimir Putin! With loyalist security forces, a subservient judiciary, a controlled media environment, and a legislature consisting of a ruling party and pliable opposition, the Kremlin manipulates elections and suppresses genuine dissent.
Isn’t it in Russia that an opposition leader, Alexei Navalny has been jailed 19 years in prison for a bogus offence of founding and funding an extremist organisation?
Freedom House further highlights that in Cuba; political prisoners face physical and psychological torture in overcrowded prisons amidst unsanitary conditions, and denial of medical care. As of April 2023, 1,048 Cuban dissidents remained in jail while in Venezuela; authorities have closed off virtually all channels for political dissent, restricting civil liberties and prosecuting perceived opponents without regard for due process since 1999.
Are these the kind of leaders you expect our president to be interacting with? No bwana, try next door!
Prince Bill M. Kaping’a