DEFENCE Minister Ambrose Lufuma has insisted that the United States of America is not establishing a military base in Zambia, reiterating that what is there is an avenue for more security cooperation.
Lufuma says rumours that a base was being established were mere speculations, and should anything like that happen, the country would be well informed.
He was reacting to PF member Emmanuel Mwamba’s statement that government was opening a military base which would be operating under the name of Security Corporation.
During Radio Phoenix’s Let the People Talk programme, Tuesday, Mwamba said the US was trying to establish a base, but it would be operating under a different name.
“AFRICOM base and a security corporation is one and the same thing, in countries that are conservative, they say let’s open a security office, but the ultimate goal is to open a military base because the US military policy and foreign policy is that they have a global reach, they can reach their enemy wherever that enemy is. I was privileged that I was ambassador first in South Africa, many times this matter had been a huge matter of concern and debate, it’s what they call international studies, it’s an institute there and it usually calls ambassadors for these security briefings of what is happening in Africa, and the issue of AFRICOM has never gone away,” said Mwamba.
“The American government have a very versatile, very strong military and they have 11 units and the unit for Africa is opening the security office in Lusaka, for me it is a very big issue and required broad consultation because this a fresh layer of what we already have. Zambia and America already have military to military corporations, at the American Embassy, there has a defence attache who does in collaboration with our institutions, he runs military programmes. So why are you bringing this layer?”
He said it was a very serious issue which had been a matter of concern for SADC and the African Union.
“There has been concerns, from SADC and from the African Union, because we do not want to militarise Africa. We have said these super powers should not use us as a base for their fights. So we need to limit the security risks that are associated with our association with them so we do have military cooperations with China, with Russia and America and we leave it at that. But if one of the combatants wishes to open an office in Zambia, it’s a matter of worry,” said Mwamba.
But in an interview, Lufuma insisted that there were no plans to open a US military base in Zambia.
“What we are discussing with AFRICOM is basically to establish a desk and the embassy is just an appendix to the defence attaché or the defence advisor. There is no base that has been discussed, nothing at all, and even the details of exactly what should be within the cooperation are yet to be outlined or elaborated and agreed on so all these fears are unfounded and I can assure you there is no base in this AFRICOM thing so fa., It’s an addition to the desk to the advisor,” said Lufuma.
“I think the main issue here is whether or not we are establishing a base here in Zambia, the base is not what we have discussed with the Americans. It is not a base, it is just a cooperation that we want with the Americans or AFRICOM. if there is to be a base, the public will be informed and that would entail that we discuss it with them, because that is not on the books.”