Former Secretary to the Cabinet Dr Sketchley Sacika says Zambia will suffer the most now that the PF government’s ongoing wrangles with United States Ambassador to Zambia Daniel Foote have eventually led to his recall from the country.
On December 15, during a fundraising service in Choma, President Edgar Lungu said the government had written to the United States government requesting it to recall Ambassador Foote because Zambia did not want “such people’’ in its midst.
But in an interview in Lusaka, Dr Sacika warned that Zambians would suffer the most in the event that Ambassador Foote was expelled from the country because Zambia remained a major beneficiary of that country’s bilateral aid and donor supported programmes.
He accused the government of being insecure and insensitive to criticism, adding that the PF should realise it was in Zambia’s best interest to ensure the Zambia-US relations did not deteriorate and get adversely affected.
“Our government is drilling in sand with instability. They are being insensitive to criticism. Other ambassadors to Zambia have said worse things about our county than Ambassador Foote did, but comrade KK never humiliated them as Mr Lungu has done to Ambassador Foote. Running a government should not be based on a person’s feelings of the people in power; running a government should be based on what is in the public and national interest. Government is not a personal property of those in power, it is for the public. Government officials must, therefore, always act in what is in the public and national interest. They must never succumb to their personal feelings,” Dr Sacika advised.
“We are the greatest losers! The United States and other donor countries are our benefactors who are making it possible for our social and economic system of the country to run. That is why we call them ‘cooperating partners’; we can’t live without their support. It is in our best interest to ensure that our relations with the donors are not affected.”
He said government failed to show diplomacy in the diplomatic spat with Ambassador Foote as it allowed their personal interests to dictate the situation.
“The fall-out of (the) Ambassador Foote saga is unnecessary and could have been avoided if our government had not overreacted to what he had said about LGBT rights. As a former diplomat, I know that diplomacy entails that relations between countries are handled in such a way as not to damage the permanent interest of the countries. Comrade Joel Malanji, Minister of Foreign Affairs, did not handle the case of Ambassador Foote’s comment on LGBT in a diplomatic manner,” said Dr Sacika.
“He failed to apply diplomatic standards; instead of acting in national interest, Malanji allowed his personal prejudices and personal feelings to dictate his response to Ambassador Foote! By so doing, he precipitated the unnecessary diplomatic clashes between Zambia and the USA. A crisis that could have been avoided and a crisis, which was actually unnecessary. He dented the diplomatic relations between Zambia and the USA. When (the) Ambassador makes comments about what is going on in our country, they do so in the hope that our government can take action. Criticism is not malicious, it is advice. Our Zambian government should not regard comments about what is happening in our country as a bad thing. We should look at it as well-intended criticism to help us overcome shortcomings.”