[By Alfred Chioza]
For the Zambian President to travel commercial to the USA or any other destination is only good on face value. It has inherent dangers too!
The President’s security is number one priority for those tasked to take care of Him. The President’s security team must dictate to him and he shouldn’t decide for himself how he wants it carried out. Generally, the President has numerous enemies and there are demented characters out there too, who are capable of doing the unimaginable. This is the more reason the presidential security can’t and shouldn’t be compromised in anyway. He has natural enemies who are unhappy that he has become President and not them; even those he un-sat and their lunatic constituency who are on the fringe. The Criminal elements who live in fear because of the crimes they have committed and fear for their safety and loss of their criminally accumulated wealth can also harm him. Such characters would do anything to throw the country into chaos and thrive therein. They absolutely have nothing to lose and don’t care a damn! One other noteworthy thing is that the President’s security team’s core business is keeping the President safe always.
Yes, the country is broke for often talked about and well known reasons: the PF Mafia regime bankrupted Zambia. The treasury was looted and HH’s UPND inherited empty coffers when he took over government just about a month ago. Understandably, UPND must embrace austerity economic measures. But God forbid, not to the extent of compromising the security of the President of Zambia! Word of caution, “Democracy is expensive to maintain.” And as such, let’s mobilise resources as a country to keep our President safe. To play to the gallery by allowing our President to travel/fly commercial has its inherent challenges as well as its advantages. We are over-exposing the President and, in case of emergencies back home, it gets tricky to get the President back home asap on a commercial flight. It happened to presidents: Kwame Nkrumah and Milton Obote of Ghana and Uganda respectively when they were overthrown whilst attending conferences abroad in the Far East. Dr Kenneth Kaunda also had to return home from Japan after Lieutenant Mwamba Luchembe staged a coup. He abandoned the conference and managed to quietly sneak into the country at midnight to help put off the uprising by the junior military officers. He managed because Dr Kaunda had a Zambia Airways plane at his disposal. Imagine if KK was on a commercial flight, what would have happened to him? Since democracy is expensive; let’s at least, find the barest minimum resources to ensure our President’s security is not compromised.
Publicity stunts such as walking the President may look good but may not go well with security concerns. We have always to anticipate the worst. Those that are tasked with the President’s security have an enviable duty and must receive the best training money can access. When late president Ronald Reagan of the USA was shot at while at a hotel in 1981, the whole incident was caught on video. It clearly demonstrated how aide decamps all over the world are supposed to work. It is your life (body guard) before that of the President!
In this age of information and technology, you can study how an American president is protected, of course resources permitting. The way he travels -even the Beast (official bullet-proof presidential vehicle) is transported ahead for use at his destination. In the world of espionage, presidents become prime targets. This is the more reason our President needs to be insulated from the danger outlined above. Some interested people may call this an illusion. The President belongs to the Zambians who are concerned over his dangerous exposure. We can do better and be professional. Serious training is required especially from those countries that have perfected the art of protecting the Head of State against the unforeseen dangers. Indeed, dangers are many.