HARRY Kalaba says the stern backlash that has been directed at United States Ambassador to Zambia Daniel Foote is indicative of the confusion that is rooted in the PF government.
Kalaba is a former foreign affairs minister and now opposition Democratic Party (DP) president.
He says the PF has mastered the art of diverting Zambians’ attention from real issues.
Meanwhile, Kalaba has charged that if it means paying with blood to counter the PF government from “prostituting” with the Republican Constitution, such will be done.
Kalaba was speaking on a special interview programme on KNC radio in Kabwe yesterday.
On Friday last week, Ambassador Foote weighed-in on gayism, and urged the government of Zambia to consider its outdated stance on homosexuals.
His comment followed the sentencing of two Kapiri Mposhi men to 15 years imprisonment for having sex against the order of nature.
The diplomat advised Zambian authorities to uniformly frown on other distasteful stuff like government officials stealing public finances and political violence.
But government officials and other voices aligned to the PF have picked on homosexuality only and are disparagingly running with it, saying Ambassador Foote is encouraging Zambians to embrace such an arrangement.
Kalaba was asked to comment on the reactions against Ambassador Foote.
He said it amounted to ridiculing the Unites States that “everyone” in Zambia is commenting against Ambassador Foote.
However, Kalaba was quick to indicate that the PF government found such topics handy, in order to distract the citizenry from the real issues.
“That’s the PF for you; they are professionals. They want to distract us from the load-shedding, from the high mealie-meal prices, they want to distract us from the teachers which they have not employed, they want to distract us from fertiliser which has not reached the farmers. This government is good at distracting you!” Kalaba explained.
He added that the energy that President Edgar Lungu, foreign affairs minister Joe Malanji and information minister Dora Siliya have exerted within 24 hours on Ambassador Foote’s remarks was regrettable.
“It tells you that they don’t know where they are coming or going. Why don’t you leave such a small issue…For me as president, that’s an issue that my foreign affairs minister should deal with without even anybody getting involved,” Kalaba said.
“The relation that we have with other countries is based on the Vienna Convention. It is not for madam Siliya to begin talking to the US Ambassador. No! That is ridiculing a country. What she should do is to pass all her grievances… She is government spokesperson on matters here in Zambia.”
Kalaba emphasised that foreign matters could only be competently handled by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
He recalled that when he was foreign affairs minister in 2016, “president Hakainde Hichilema of the UPND invited diplomats to go and have lunch with him at his residence.”
“I remember my colleagues calling me and telling me ‘no, but the statement you have issued is not a fair statement; we should hammer the diplomats.’ I told one of the ministers who was trying to go to my back saying ‘I’m going to issue a statement.’ I said you issue a statement and I’ll resign as minister,” Kalaba said.
“Order must be there! This country must be called to order; you can’t have everybody speaking.”
Kalaba added that it was a diplomatic anomaly that information permanent secretary Chanda Kasolo and Siliya could be casting Ambassador Foote or any other diplomat accredited to Zambia.
“Everybody is talking! It tells you the confusion that is embedded in the PF government. The one who should have handled it, firstly, is the permanent secretary at the Ministry of foreign affairs,” he noted.
“He should have been the one to summon His Excellency the US Ambassador to his office, with decency. For an Ambassador to speak like that, it means you have taken them to the lowest.”
Meanwhile, on the contentious Bill No.10, Kalaba said: “whether bill 10 goes through or it doesn’t go through, I can assure you that we are going to defend the interests of the Zambia people.”
“If it means paying with our blood, we’ll pay that ultimate price to ensure that nothing happens that takes away the people’s dignity. We’ll not allow the PF to continue prostituting with the interests of our people. Enough is enough!” vowed Kalaba.