Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Malanji says the Zambian government has resolved to present a formal démarche to the American government over their Ambassador’s “unacceptable, unfair” comments about this country’s affairs.
And Malanji says the Zambian government is not composed of thieves.
Meanwhile, Malanji says gay Zambians should go to countries where their lifestyles are accepted whenever they get the urge to engage in same sex relations, and then come back home afterwards.
In a statement yesterday, United States Ambassador to Zambia Daniel Foote said it was inconceivable that two men can be sentenced to 15 years imprisonment for having a consensual relationship, which does not hurt anyone, while government officials can steal millions of public funds without consequences.
Ambassador Foote said he understood that Zambia was a Christian nation but there was need to uphold human rights and treat people according to the Biblical principle that only those without sin should throw stones at those perceived to be sinners.
But at a media briefing today, Malanji described Ambassador Foote’s statement as unacceptable.
“I wish to inform the nation that yesterday I called the Ambassador of the United States of America His Excellency Daniel Foote to express government’s grave concern over the press release by the Embassy on the recent judgment by the High Court on a matter of homosexuality. I wish to state categorically that in Zambia, we subscribe to and maintain the independence of the Judiciary as the fundamental tenet of our democracy. The Judiciary is the guardian of the Constitution and has the responsibility to interpret and safeguard it without any undue interference. To question its decision by a representative of a foreign government is tantamount to questioning the Zambian constitution on which the Judiciary makes rulings. This is unacceptable, especially on matters of an internal nature like this. The decisions by the Judiciary are made on the basis of the laws of Zambia and not of another country. Consequently, it is the Zambian people who should decide appropriately and through the established practices and processes to change the laws,” Malanji said.
“The government of the Republic of Zambia takes great exception to the remarks made by the ambassador on the decision by the High Court as well as his comparison of the homosexuality case to other cases of alleged theft by government officials, political violence and poaching. The ambassador may wish to note that all cases that are brought before the courts of law are adjudicated based on the available of evidence. It is extremely unfair and highly misleading to suggest that such cases are never brought before the courts of law. Zambia remains a signatory to major international and regional treaties protecting human rights and has several well established institutions to promote and protect human rights. The government of the Republic of Zambia remains committed to safeguarding the rights and freedoms of Zambians and providing the democratic space for political participation within the confines of the law…To this effect, we are actually presenting a formal démarche to the American government in Washington DC.”
He said all envoys accredited to Zambia were supposed to observe proper communication channels.
“Regarding the position of Zambia as a Christian nation in view of the court’s decision in this matter of homosexuality, the ambassador may wish to confine himself to matters that are within his competence. May I take this opportunity to remind the US Ambassador and indeed any other envoys accredited to the Republic of Zambia that they have always been granted audience by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and they have always been granted audience by the President of the Republic of Zambia, it is therefore expected that any sentiments on national issues are presented to the government through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. All envoys accredited to the Republic of Zambia are encouraged to follow the well established procedure and channels of communication to avoid unnecessary acrimony of tainting the existing relations among our countries,” Malanji said.
“But yesterday when I phoned Ambassador Foote, the first response was ‘why are you not talking about China which has kept thousands of people in prison without trial?’ This is not Beijing and China is just one of our cooperating partners, we’ve given a clear platform to all missions accredited to Zambia like I have indicated and I think our being a developing nation, we attach great importance to our relationships with cooperating partners but what we should understand, all of us, is that Zambia has got cultures which must be followed by any person who is in Zambia whether citizen or through any other accreditation because next time, there will be a country which is going to establish sex with dogs as good and it must be brought to Zambia for Zambians to practice that?”
And when asked if Ambassador Foote apologized when he was called, Malanji said he stood his ground.
Malanji, however, said it was unfair for Ambassador Foote to insinuate that the Zambian government was composed of thieves.
“He stood his ground because when I called him, I wanted him to account for the statement and he stood by that statement. Our point of contention is, he has a wider platform from where he can express his statements as opposed to the manner in which he did and also, Zambia has got an upright government. Our government is not composed of thieves. There are men and women with families and it is not in order for an ambassador of his level to insinuate that people in government are stealing and being left scot free. Our Judiciary in Zambia has got an autonomous status from the Executive and I think it is rather unfair for Ambassador Foote to insinuate that the government could have stopped any ruling that the courts made,” he said.
Meanwhile, Malanji said gay Zambians were free to go to countries where their lifestyle was legal whenever they felt the urge to engage in same sex relations.
“If the people that want to practice gayism feel they can enjoy it, if at all it is enjoyable, they must go to countries where it is practiced and then come back. Every time that they want to have it, they must go to those countries where it is practiced, said Malanji.
“But as for now, not until the Zambian Constitution is changed to accommodate that, the courts will always rule according to the Zambian Constitution and I think we must appreciate that Zambia has since independence availed all its cooperating partners a good platform for a mutual gain between bi lateral and even on a multilateral platforms and I think it would only be in order that the American Ambassador follows suit.”