Expelled United States Ambassador Daniel Foote is now history in the Zambian political landscape. He’s had his moment of stardom, however ephemeral it proved to be.
Before his ill-fated exit, Amb. Foote lifted his veil of polite diplomacy and, with a sharpened tongue and raised chest, thrust himself into the Zambian political arena. But his confidence betrayed him. What Amb. Foote forgot is that, even as an esteemed foreign dignitary, he is still an invited foreign dignitary, and enjoys no inherent right to insert himself into the internal affairs of this country in which he was a guest.
The Zambian Constitution affords only Zambians the right to oppose or participate in political discourse. It’s for this reason we have the variety of opposition organizations that we do, many of which will be fielding candidates of their own in 2021.
Nevertheless, the American ambassador mistook his posting to be much more than it is. Alas, despite his education and experience, it seems it took only a few meals shared with either UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema or NDC leader Chishimba Kambwili to be fooled into thinking he was a third or fourth-level force in Zambia.
Before long, he let his mouth get the better of him. And goaded by his dinner mates Hichilema and Kambwili, Amb. Foote even ventured so far as to disregard the Zambian Constitution and reprimand both the judiciary and the Zambian faith when two men found in an illegal erotic act were jailed for 15 years.
Amb. Foote was cheered on by the likes of Hichilema and Kambwili. He veered off his gay rights campaign and discredited President Edgar Lungu’s governance record. He further claimed the country’s human rights record had taken a turn for the worse, regurgitating the drivel of outgoing official guests before him.
In a single move, Amb. Foote derailed his promising diplomatic career. Today he is history, not the future. With his reputation in tatters, Mr. Foote would do well to steer clear of the public eye, let alone American politics.
Zambia’s struggles are evident. That is lost on no one. But it’s growing clearer that talk of the progress the country has made is drowned out by the likes of Mr. Foote. Zambia has struggled the course of 2019 to eliminate the challenges and put in place the measures to minimize future hurdles. The country has done this with dignity and pride, but you wouldn’t know that if you listened to Mr. Foote.
So let it be said that Zambia remains a beacon of peace and template of democracy in the region.
Since 1991, Zambia has held six crucial presidential elections, all passing the bill of peace and tranquility. These elections have equally been very credible despite understandable challenges that are not unique to Zambia.
The country has transitioned from one president to another with today’s leader, President Edgar Lungu, being the fifth citizen to hold the mantle in three decades. All these changes have happened without spilling blood of ordinary citizens.
Yes, corruption is a challenge across Africa and the world. Zambia has not been spared. However, President Edgar Lungu has taken a different approach to fighting the scourge. Rather than make corruption a personal agenda, President Lungu seeks to strengthen judicial systems to handle such matters on a larger scale.
Zambians are no longer being tried and convicted in the media as the case recently was in the corruption fight when private citizen mastered a so called zero-tolerance to mask their grand style graft.
And because President Lungu is not enriching private lawyers through a unsustainable approach to the corruption campaign, he has become a target. His detractors are after him at all cost and have joined forces with the opposition to eliminate him.
Amb. Foote was, for a long time, a silent voice of this group of foreign dignitaries that aimed at eliminating President Lungu. The gay judgment exposed the man and now he is history. Well, those who met him at midnight are now exposed and will have to face President Lungu alone in 2021.
The American’s closet bid to be on the ballot in Zambia is emerging as News Diggers! “Man of the Year” for 2019. The rest, as they say, is history. And he is also history to Zambians. Goodbye misfiring Foote!