The Internet in Zambia today is awash with news about Janet Rogan, the United Nations country representative. Opposition political party leaders have risen against her on grounds that she is not representing the interests of the citizens, but instead advancing the ruling Patriotic Front political agenda.
Some, like the United Party for National Development (UPND) president Mr Hakainde Hichilema have gone further to accuse her of conspiring with the Patriotic Front government to manipulate the outcome of the 2016 general elections.
To a larger extent, we agree with those who are dissatisfied with the performance of the United Nations Development Programmes (UNDP) country coordinator. But at the same time, we feel that no matter how much she has disappointed Zambians, she deserves to be called for what she is, and nothing more.
For example, the claim that Ambassador Rogan participated in the rigging of the last election could be a little overdramatizing the situation. We have many issues against this diplomat as we will outline, but to say she rigged the polls for the PF, without facts to support such claims, is too cheap for Mr Hichilema to say. But we are not surprised because that is a common habit in the UPND. This is a political party that spends a lot of time pointing fingers instead of working. They claim to know how elections are rigged, but they never prevent it from recurring.
Anyway, that aside, it is a fact that Ambassador Rogan is compromised and she is failing to perform her duties diligently. Since her arrival in the country in April 2014, the United National Resident Coordinator has been demonstrating, beyond reasonable doubt, that she supports the Patriotic Front government – right or wrong.
It is no wonder President Edgar Lungu and his advisors are very fond of her. She is a Patriotic Front fanatic. Whether that is part of her job description to be in love with the government of the day, we don’t know. But what we know is that, much as she visits various refugee camps and officiates at various launches of developmental programmes under the UNDP, she does not have the feelings of the poor and oppressed Zambians at heart.
When you listen to the governance statements coming from the office of this head of mission for a very powerful and influential international organisation, and compare with what is obtaining on the ground, you would wonder whether she is based in this country or speaking from abroad.
In short, the UN Ambassador is not in touch with the reality of what is happening in Zambia, otherwise if she were, she would be taking advantage of her numerous meetings with our President to challenge him on where he is going wrong. When the two of them meet, what we hear is the President’s voice bragging about how well he is governing the county, and almost nothing tangible from her.
In fact, when you analyse discussions between President Lungu and Ambassador Rogan, you would be excused for concluding that the Head of State actually intimidates the UN country representative. He speaks his mind and takes advantage of her to send a message to the diplomatic corps, while she listen and agrees.
In yesterday’s News Diggers edition number 151, we published the Conflict Structure Vulnerability report for the 2016 elections which the UN country office funded, but never released to the public. In this report, hired experts in peace and security reveal that the Electoral Commission of Zambia was vulnerable to external influence, thereby making it fail to operate as an autonomous body.
The report further describes how the police selectively applied the Public Order Act to disadvantage the opposition, and adds that PF cadres were not arrested for engaging in violent activities. It also reveals that the public media favoured the ruling Patriotic Front in the coverage of election campaigns.
Surely this is the kind of information Zambians and indeed the courts of law would have loved to receive from a reputable institution like the UNDP, immediately after the research was concluded. When is Rogan intending to release this report? Why has she kept it under wraps?
Is it because the report exposes weaknesses in the UNDP funded institutions like the ECZ which is failing to promote democratic principals by operating autonomously? Is it because it exposes her beloved PF government’s use of brutal force on innocent citizens during elections? Zambians would like to know because the decision to hide this report rhymes with the positions she has taken in the past regarding police brutality.
Two months before the disputed 2016 general elections, police were in battle with journalists from the closed down Post Newspaper. Armed paramilitary officers ambushed defenseless news reporters who were working from the roadside opposite the company premises in Lusaka. They teargased the journalists for no apparent reason and brutalised those who did not disperse.
Following that act, civil society organisations, the church, the European Union and other institutions of similar standing issued statements condemning the police for assaulting journalists at a time when the country was preparing for a crucial election.
When a statement came from Ambassador Rogan, on behalf of the United Nations, she said the action by the police was not PROPORTIONATE with the offence committed by the journalists. The question that critics posed to Rogan then was; what wrong did the journalists do and what punishment would have been proportionate, according to her? This is the Janet Rogan Zambians have come to know. That is why the UPND is now dragging her into the election-rigging scheme.
We have taken time to look her up and our findings are that she does have a very rich CV. Ms Rogan began her career in 1986 with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK as Desk Officer for Zambia and Malawi. She served in Her Majesty’s Diplomatic Service for over 20 years. In her previous assignment, she was Senior Strategy Adviser to the Director for Defence and International Security at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in UK.
She held the post of Consul General and Deputy Head of Mission at the British Embassy in Tel Aviv, Israel (2005-2008) prior to which she undertook language training in Hebrew. From 2003-2004 she was seconded to the Coalition Provisional Authority in Basra, Iraq (then Baghdad). She was the UK’s Political Adviser to the NATO Supreme Allied Commander for Europe from 2001-2003 and from 1998-2001. Other references actually credit her of being a former MI6 agent.
So what is Ms Rogan’s motivation for her undesirable behavior in Zambia? What is she trying to achieve and who is she conspiring with? Why has she sat on the Conflict Structure Vulnerability report for the 2016 elections?
We don’t want Zambians to make malicious conclusions about her, but we would like her to explain so that people can see the sense in what she is doing with the PF. If she feels too dignified a diplomat to exculpate herself, unlike the Cuban Ambassador, she has a good reason to pack her bags.