HARRY Kalaba has challenged foreign affairs minister Joe Malanji to be truthful about Zambia’s current diplomatic relations with the United States.
Kalaba, a former foreign affairs minister, is the opposition Democratic Party (DP) president.
He insists that Zambia’s Ambassador-designate to the US Lazarous Kapambwe was sent back to Lusaka by Washington because President Edgar Lungu and Malanji “mishandled” Daniel Foote’s issue.
On February 14, Malanji ‘clarified’ that Kapambwe had not been expelled by the US government but that he was in Zambia waiting for a bilateral visa to operate in Washington.
Before his posting to Washington DC, Kapambwe was Zambia’s Permanent Representative to the UN in New York.
At a media briefing at the DP secretariat in Woodlands, Lusaka last Friday, Kalaba argued that: “even when he [Kapambwe] was in New York, they could have processed his papers from there.”
“He didn’t need to come to Zambia! So I challenge Mr Malanji to tell us the truth and please, on matters of diplomacy be careful because we know what is happening,” Kalaba said.
“I’m talking about this issue only to challenge the government statement on why Zambia’s Ambassador to the US was told to come back after spending a month in Washington and after being told to prepare for presentation of letters of credence to President Donald Trump on 7th February 2020. I talk as a former foreign affairs [minister] here, I’m an authority in this field.”
He regretted that while Zambia has had a vantage position in diplomacy and international relations, President Lungu and his team were bent on destroying it with impunity and arrogance.
Kalaba underscored that the DP stood by its earlier statement that: “Kapambwe was asked to come back by that country on a reciprocity of mishandling Ambassador [Daniel] Foote’s issue by the President (Lungu) and, of course, his foreign affairs minister and team.”
“I want to challenge Honourable Malanji to explain to the nation how long it takes to process an A1 visa for anyone going to the USA, and let alone a diplomatic visa. A diplomatic visa is given gratis (for free) and if there is a visa that receives a lot of attention, it’s a diplomatic visa,” he said.
“So why is it that it’s now almost a month and Ambassador Lazarous Kapambwe is still languishing in Zambia? Why is he not in Washington?”
Kalaba added that the DP expressed the highest reservation of the current state of Zambia’s international standing.
He called on President Lungu and his regime to approach governance, diplomacy and international relations with deserved seriousness.
“Minister Malanji must also begin learning a bit of research…” Kalaba charged.
Kalaba explained that when a country did not have an ambassador, “like we don’t have an American Ambassador sitting in Lusaka, it simply means you cannot start new projects with the US now.
“The only person that was designated, as things stood, was Ambassador Foote or it’s an Ambassador. America stands as the only country right now that has given Zambia, in terms of direct support…No country in the world beats America in terms of the resources it gives to Zambia,” noted Kalaba.
“So this is a huge blow. This is not something that we should gloss over and someone can just say ‘it’s A1 visa which he is waiting for.’ I’m not petty and when I raise an issue, it’s because it’s substantive and it’s going to hinge on the poor people of Zambia. The ramifications of not having an ambassador in this country, especially from America, are too ghastly to contemplate. It’s not in our interest.…”