Veteran politician Vernon Johnson Mwaanga has condemned Foreign Affairs Minister Joe Malanji’s “crude” language towards United States Ambassador to Zambia Daniel Foote saying it was uncalled for.
Meanwhile, Mwaanga has called on leaders and citizens of Zambia not to trivialise the effects of climate change on the environment and heed the solutions being provided by scientists across the globe.
On Saturday, Malanji said Ambassador Foote’s comments on a High Court judgement which sentenced a Kapiri Mposhi gay couple to 15 years imprisonment were tantamount to interference with Zambia’s internal affairs.
Malanji said Zambians would not be forced to start sleeping with dogs just because another country considered it right to do so.
But in a statement, Tuesday, Mwaanga, who is a seasoned diplomat, said Malanji’s utterances against Ambassador Foote were crude and uncalled for, emphasising that there were more sober and diplomatic ways the minister could have used to resolve the matter.
“Differences between the US, Europe and African countries on the subject of gays, are not knew. African countries have a different set of values from the US and Europe. These have been there for a long time and will probably remain for many years to come. These differences have been expressed in a more sober and polite manner in the past. One example of this is when President Uhuru Kenyatta and President Barack Obama, publicly disagreed on this very subject while addressing a joint press conference in Nairobi. The language used by Foreign Affairs Minister Joe Malanji in rebuking US Ambassador Daniel Foote, was diplomatically crude and uncalled for. He should have used more sober diplomatic language. Zambia does not need an escalation of rhetoric with the US at this time and diplomatic dialogue, using proper channels should now be employed,” Mwaanga stated.
Meanwhile, in a separate statement, Mwanga stated all citizens had a collective and individual duty to participate in defending and preserving the environment, even amidst excessive load-shedding.
“World leaders are currently gathered in Madrid, Spain, to discuss climate change and its devastating impact on our world’s environment. In 1971, when I was Ambassador of Zambia at the United Nations in New York and serving as vice chairman of the special preparatory committee for the first world conference on the environment which was scheduled to take place in Stockholm, Sweden in 1972, I wrote a detailed article which was carried by our two main newspapers at the time, where I was alerting Zambians to the looming dangers of climate change. I talked about the findings by prominent scientists, to the effect that the world -including Zambia – would experience negative effects of global warming, desertification and even drought. I warned that there was need to start working on managing and other mitigation measures to deal with the waste from our mines and factories such Kafue Textiles and Nitrogen Chemicals, which were already remitting substantial quantities of toxic waste into the Kafue river, which was beginning to affect fish yields,” Mwaanga recalled.
“The general response I got from some of the readers and leaders in government was unexpectedly negative. There were some who thought that I had gone cuckoo in the head by concentrating on imaginary problems. I even suggested that we should begin to look at alternative sources of energy away from hydro power, such as windmill and solar, because climate change would affect rainfall patterns which would lead to reduced rains and even cause hunger and food insecurity not just in Zambia, but in the world at large. Forty eight years down the road, climate change is now on every ones lips and our reaction to it as defenders of the global environment has come too little and too late. Scientists are certain that in the next few years, global average daily temperatures will rise by as much as two degrees. This is a very serious environmental issue which will lead to abnormally heavy rains, heat waves, droughts, floods and species extinctions due to shifting temperature regimes.”
Mwaanga, however, noted that scientists were already looking for measures to mitigate the effects of climate change.
“It is not all gloom and doom, scientists also offer possible solutions, which our spoiled generation will find hard to embrace, such as reduced gasoline consumption by driving our cars less, to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Other mitigation measures include recycling garbage by reusing plastic bags, bottles, paper and glass. We inhabitants of this earth can also stop burning our garbage, because this releases carbon dioxide. Wholesale cutting down of trees and burning them which is common in our country and other parts of Africa, to produce charcoal for cooking and lighting (malasha ), leads to deforestation and global warming,” stated Mwaanga.
“Today we are seeing the harsh realities, hazards and risks of climate change, from the Amazon forests in South America, uncontrollable fires in Australia and California USA, to floods in Europe and Asia as well as to droughts on the African Continent. In our country, water scarcity and food insecurity have become very evident. If you take just Lusaka, it is estimated that more than 60% of the boreholes have dried up and so have many of our rivers and dams, due to very low water levels below. World wide , the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) has estimated that 815 million people worldwide are chronically food insecure while a further 5 to 10 % of the world population is at risk of ‘acute’ food insecurity by natural and man made crises . These are frightening statistics and it would be unwise to trivialise them at a time when African deserts are fast expanding and claiming our arable land. We all have a collective and individual duty to participate in defending and preserving our precious environment even as we experience excessive load-shedding, because we collectively failed to heed the warning which was given forty eight years ago, because we owe it to ourselves and generations yet unborn to do so, for the sake of our common planet.”