The Movement for Multi-Party Democracy wishes to comment on the recent political developments arising from the alleged “extradition” or “deportation” of our neighbouring Zimbabwe’s opposition leader Tendai Biti.
As MMD, we would like to state categorically that whilst we appreciate our government’s position on the matter, we strongly believe that government could have looked at the Asylum case of Tendai Biti’s more carefully than to take hasty action.
There was no compelling need to stop him from entering the country bearing in mind an existing framework between Zambia and Zimbabwe as well as international conventions that provide mechanisms on how to deal with matters as Mr Tendai Biti’s without causing a diplomatic row.
We are of the strong view that the our government needs to critically review its commitment with consistency to its already existing Foreign Policy Framework. We say so in referring to President Lungu’s statement in 2015 where he reiterated his governments foreign policy, interests and ideology.
The President said Zambia will continue to cooperate with the international community to tackle topical issues such as the United Nations reforms, climate change, human rights, terrorism, international peace and security, and piracy.
Therefore, our appeal as a party to the PF government is to act more seriously, consistent and committed to what we say.
Contrary to the foregoing, Zambia remains a country with an impeccable record both in the region and internationally in so far as human rights are concerned.
Historically, Zambia was a founder member of the ‘front line states’ which played a leading role in the liberation of neighbouring states in the 1970s and 1980s including in Zimbabwe. Both the ANC of South Africa and SWAPO of Namibia had their headquarters in Lusaka for many years, thereby sacrificing huge resources in the interests of human rights at the expense of its own people.
Today, Zambia continues to provide troops to support UN peacekeeping operations. As a nation we contributed peacekeepers in Mozambique, Rwanda, Angola, and Sierra Leone. Zambia was the first African state to cooperate with the International Tribunal investigation of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. Zambia’s history of stability and its commitment to regional peace has made it a the best haven for large numbers of refugees on the continent.
During President Mwanawasa’s tenure as SADC Chair, he brought the issue of Zimbabwe to the fore in the SADC, taking a lead role in pressuring President Mugabe for reforms in his country which have now seen the light of day in Zimbabwe today.
However, we express deep concern over some reckless and undiplomatic comments coming from some American officials. An isolated incidence with Mr Tendai Biti can not be used to lay claim for America to hold such a position against our country.
We want to remind the American government, that they themselves had imposed sanctions against Zimbabwe and former Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe because of reasons best known to themselves even when SADC, regional bodies and other countries in the region felt that Zimbabwe has within its borders capable mechanisms to resolve their own issues and that their sovereignty need to be respected.
These sanctions have led to negative consequences on the peoples of Zimbabwe, which are evidenced from the current economic and social challenges. Additionally, numerous lives have been lost as a result, all in the quest of trying to defend white farmers in Zimbabwe. If Robert Mugabe was trying to take land from his fellow Zimbabweans, we don’t think America as a country would have taken such a stance?
It is irrefutably true that, America has a history of racial discrimination which saw the emergency of heroes such as Martin Luther King Jr. The United States of America even towards the end of apartheid in South Africa was cooperating and supporting the Apartheid regime even when there were many instances that indigenous South Africans were crying for the respect of human rights.
America is not free from human rights abuses. Most recently the American government has come under immense condemnation of its human rights abuses in its Zero tolerance policy separating children from their immigrant parents. America therefore can not hold a hard stance against other sovereign states riding on its economic strength and influence.
Therefore, we reject it in its entirety the suggestion to review our relationship by the American government. It is in the interest of any good global country to respect the laws set for themselves. We cannot create a second class of citizens where politicians abrogate laws which could further entrench the culture of impunity by politicians that has done a great damage to often too many countries in Africa. That is a travesty of democracy and due process.
We propose that the American government through their mission here, engage our government in a robust way to iron out these unfortunate misunderstandings.
The American government, must be made aware that in their stance for advocacy against human rights abuses today, they can not be seen to be wanting to take a position of “THE BIG BOYS WITH A STICK” even to a point of wanting to serve America’s interest only other than that of mutual partners like Zambia.
Today Tendai Biti’s case cannot be used to rubbish the legacy of Zambia in terms of its advocacy for human rights and the impact that Zambia has made on the globe, in the region and in Zimbabwe in particular.
Finally, as MMD we join the international community in calling on the United States government to retreat on its aggressive and STEROID like foreign policy. We need consensus to achieve legitimacy in our fight for human rights and peace building.
MMD National Secretary