Outgoing American Ambassador to Zambia Daniel Foote has challenged government leaders in the PF administration to make personal financial disclosures so that the Anti-Corruption Commission can carry out real investigations and prosecute corrupt officials at all levels.
And Foote says President Edgar Lungu must commit himself to restoring Zambia’s reputation as a strong democracy devoted to serving ordinary citizens and avoid degradation of human, economic, and political rights.
Meanwhile, Ambassador Foote has expressed disappointment that the Zambian government consistently frustrated American efforts to reform the energy and tourism sectors by rebuffing key initiatives.
Ambassador Foote’s remarks come in the wake of strained US-Zambia relations that had been exacerbated by President Lungu’s declaration, December 15, that he did not want the US Envoy in the country after the former criticised the jailing of two Kapiri Mposhi men to 15 years for “having a consensual relationship, while public officials who were embezzling public funds were left scot-free”.
In a farewell message to Zambians following his sudden departure from the country, Ambassador Foote expressed disappointment that the Zambian government frustrated the US government’s efforts at trying to expedite development in Zambia’s tourism and energy sectors.
“I am disappointed that American efforts to reform the electricity and tourism sectors have been consistently rebuffed, as have proposed financial reforms to help move Zambia toward a credibility-enhancing agreement with the International Monetary Fund,” he said.
“Even as I depart, I encourage the Government of the Republic of Zambia to require its own leaders to issue personal financial disclosures, to empower anti-corruption institutions to carry out real investigations and prosecutions of corrupt officials at all levels, and to make public the terms of excessively opaque debt arrangements, which will affect every Zambian for years to come,” he advised.
The American Envoy implored President Lungu to commit himself to restoring Zambia’s reputation as a strong democracy devoted to serving ordinary citizens and avoid the degradation of human, economic, and political rights.
“Let me once again thank the wonderful Zambian people for your fantastic hospitality. And to Your Excellency, President Edgar Chagwa Lungu, I implore you and the Zambian government to commit to restore Zambia’s reputation as a strong democracy devoted to serving your exceptional people, and to avoid degradation of your own citizens’ human, economic, and political rights,” Ambassador Foote stated in a statement released, Thursday.
“To demonstrate America’s continued commitment to the Zambian people, the U.S. will soon announce US $3.5 million in food assistance for your countrymen and women most in need because of the effects of drought.”
He, however, stated that it was a “distinct honour” to have served in his brief two-year tour of duty, which was abruptly cut short by recent events.
“It has been a distinct honour to serve as the Ambassador of the United States of America to Zambia since 2017. While promoting U.S. interests, I believe I stringently held up my pledge to collaborate closely to improve the lives of Zambian citizens, particularly in health, education, refugee-assistance, and peacekeeping. Farewell, my Zambian friends! I will forever hold close to my heart your welcoming, gracious spirit, your desire for all citizens to enjoy the freedoms, protections, opportunities, and rights upheld in your Constitution, your resilience, and your friendship,” stated Ambassador Foote.