There comes a time in the history of any nation when the old and retired statesmen and women or even retired generals may be called upon once more to execute specific duties in the interest of the country they love and once served with distinction.
This is not just something that could be expected of us as a nation now, but it is a universal principle that has played out in many countries around the globe. However, it is worth noting that such a time is now for the Republic of Zambia to summon some of the best minds in diplomacy and international relations to help us resolve what perhaps could be one of the worst diplomatic crises since independence.
There is no doubt that Zambia is faced with a real diplomatic challenge because of the Rwandan saga and the embarrassment this issue has caused our nation. This undeniable crisis is largely the making of our incompetent and reckless government of the Patriotic Front (PF). Unfortunately, today we have a government in power which consists of inexperienced and unqualified ministers serving in the cabinet of President Edgar Lungu, which I believe is the genesis of all the problems we have seen since this man took over the reins of power.
I have always said that what makes someone an exceptional leader is not their gifts, talents, skills or even intellect but rather their ability to surround themselves with a capable team that performs according to the expectations of the people who entrusted them with leadership responsibilities. This is one quality that made the late president Frederick Chiluba exceptional as a leader of our country during the best of times and the darkest of hours, regardless of his personal weaknesses. If we look back and examine the cabinet ministers who served under Dr Chiluba, one thing is clear, which is the fact that the men and women who were appointed to whatever positions were given those tasks based on merit and patriotism. I think that it would be unfair to even begin to compare the calibre of ministers under the Chiluba or even the Mwanawasa administrations with the kind of ministers we have today under President Lungu.
For example, let’s look at one sensitive ministry; honestly can we compare the so-called home affairs minister now and the home affairs ministers of Chiluba or Mwanawasa? The answer is an absolute no, because honourable Kampoyongo is nowhere close to someone who can or rather who knows how to professionally run the home affairs ministry. Hence, we have seen a rise in a number of cases or issues dealing with police brutality, intolerance of opposing views and political violence perpetuated by the PF cadres. The truth is that the current crop of ministers has a lot to learn from those who have gone before them, and they will do well to humble themselves and take notes from their predecessors.
As if it is not enough that we have useless cabinet ministers, our nation has been shaken up with unbelievable allegations involving the Head of State and government. It is hard to imagine that today, in 2020, a sitting President of the Republic of Zambia by the name of Edgar C Lungu has been accused of aiding and abetting a terrorist group in another African country. The shocking revelations of Callixte Nsabimana who gave a sworn testimony in a Rwandan court, speaking on behalf of a Rwandan rebel group called the National Liberation Forces are unprecedented and very unfortunate. To suggest that President Lungu had allowed space for the Rwandan rebel group to operate, then paidUS$150,000 to this group and promised US$1 million to help topple the Kagame regime is unbelievable but cannot be taken lightly.
However, the response by the PF government to these allegations has been timely and should be encouraged by all Zambians who mean well for our country. In fact, I was pleased to have seen that the President himself immediately sent the foreign affairs minister Joseph Malanji to Kigali as soon as this news broke. After meeting with the President of Rwanda, the Zambian foreign minister gave a televised address via social media, in which he informed the nation that he had indeed met with Paul Kagame and that they had both addressed the issues at hand. According to honourable Malanji, the Rwandan President re-affirmed that the bilateral relations between Zambia and Rwanda are intact and that the so-called rebel leader Callixte Nsabimana had visited five African countries while in exile and Zambia was not among those countries which Nsabimana had been to.
I hope that this serves as a lesson for the PF government, as well as our future posterity that being accused of meddling into the internal affairs of other countries can have severe consequences a and must be avoided by all costs. We cannot afford to have a president or head of state whose name is mentioned or implicated in the courts of law of a foreign nation.
And to be clear, whether we like it or not this issue will not easily go away simply because a foreign minister and President Kagame have met to discuss it. If there is one thing I know about Paul Kagame even without meeting him in person, it is very clear to me that the man can be very unforgiving and if you do not believe me just look at his record. Therefore, if there is any shred of truth or even one iota of truth about these allegations then I believe that it will take a lot more action behind the scenes to eventually exhaust all the misunderstanding pertaining to these accusations and restore the much-needed trust among the two nations. I, therefore, call upon the PF government to summon the likes of Dr Vernon Mwaanga, and other retired experts in diplomacy to rise to the occasion and foster a lasting diplomatic solution between Zambia and Rwanda.
In any moment of despair and confusion, the resounding words of a former British prime minister during a difficult time for Great Britain offers some guidance as to how anyone, including a nation should respond to a crisis. Winston Churchill once said, “To each there comes in their lifetime a special moment when they are figuratively tapped on the shoulder and offered the chance to do a very special thing, unique to them and fitted to their talents. What a tragedy if that moment finds them unprepared or unqualified for that which could have been their finest hour!”
And so in the spirit of this quote, it is my prayer that Zambia is prepared and qualified to deal with the Rwandan saga, considering the fact that the PF government has done nothing but exhibited inadequacies at all levels of governance and diplomacy. I am convinced that, the efforts of the foreign affairs minister Joseph Malanji and his team are not enough to provide the remedy for this diplomatic embarrassment. The right thing to do is for this government to engage the experienced gurus of diplomacy regardless of whether these diplomatic experts like or dislike the PF regime.
This issue of Rwanda needs all of us to put the country first, and I believe that statesmen like Dr Mwaanga would gladly answer the call to help in this crisis if summoned to do so by the government.
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