Opinion

OPINION: Zambia – US Relations

Zambia and the United States of America have been friends for many years and their co-operation has extended to different areas of both countries. This is a fact that is not in dispute and must never be taken for granted by either party.

For instance, Zambia’s health sector is the biggest beneficiary of the United States support that totals $4 billion in the last 15 years. A number of our people today are receiving anti-retroviral treatment because of this support from the United States government and the Zambian government has shown appreciation in many ways by ensuring that those who should benefit from this help do so. Additionally, the government is promoting a campaign to have all Zambians know their HIV status and this has had the Head of State in the lead. This was demonstrated at the commemoration of this year’s World AIDS Day that falls on December 1 when President Edgar Lungu and his wife, Madam Esther, took HIV tests to lead the way in voluntary testing and counselling.

“By knowing your HIV status and being on treatment, which prevents transmission, the only difference between HIV-negative and HIV-positive today is the medicine,” United States Ambassador to Zambia Daniel Foote said on Monday in a statement issued after he held a press briefing that addressed a wide range of issues on his country’s co-operation with Zambia.

He added that “the American people have provided more than $4 billion in HIV/AIDS support in the last 15 years. Working closely with the Ministry of Health, we currently have well over 1 million Zambians on life-changing anti-retroviral medicine, touching close to half of the families in the country… Unfortunately, stigma and discrimination remain as our biggest mutual challenges in eradicating the AIDS epidemic. Discriminatory and homophobic laws, under the false flags of Christianity and culture, continue to kill innocent Zambians, many of whom were born with the virus. Your citizens are terrified of being outed as HIV-positive, because of the inaccurate and archaic associations between HIV and homosexuality.”

This statement has revealed that fact that we still have a lot of work to do to end stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV. There are people who will be put off from undergoing an HIV test because of how those living with the virus today are being treated. Sometimes, ill treatment actually comes from the healthcare providers themselves where they have disregarded the need for privacy when dealing with people living with HIV.

Consequently, the Ministry of Health should take this up and educate all its workers in departments that handle people living with HIV and emphasise the importance of confidentiality and respect for human rights of those seeking assistance. We have heard of people abandoning treatment because of lack of confidentiality by some health workers. And truth be told, the bulk of our citizens are still uncomfortable with coming out in the open about their HIV statuses and no health worker has the right to disclose using their privileges. As long as this is not dealt with sooner rather than later, stigma and discrimination will continue.

Ambassador Foote, in his statement, also said “my job as U.S. Ambassador is to promote the interests, values, and ideals of the United States” and that “Zambia is one of the largest per-capita recipients of U.S. assistance in the world, at $500 million each year”. He added that “in these countries where we contribute resources, this includes partnering in areas of mutual interest, and holding the recipient government accountable for its responsibilities under this partnership”.

Accountability for funds is a key issue that any government cannot ignore and every donor has the right to demand it from recipient countries. And when this is demanded, that particular government should provide whatever information may be requested. What is important, however, is to ensure that the process for demanding accountability is done in the most sober manner that will not leave the other party feeling humiliated or insulted, for lack of a better term.

“The U.S. government is far from perfect”, Ambassador Foote said, “and we always welcome feedback, including from Zambia through your embassy in Washington”. He made mention of the fact that if they didn’t welcome feedback, “we might not have changed our repugnant laws allowing slavery and other human rights contraventions, historical misdeeds for which I passionately apologize”.

No government in this world is surely perfect and that is true for our government as well. It is because of this fact that even if a government is not perfect, respect for its leaders is necessary.

Zambia currently faces a wide range of challenges that it cannot sort out on its own – energy shortages, climate change effects, food insecurity, etc, which Ambassador Foote acknowledged and said, “I agree that we should be working to improve critical issues like food insecurity and the electricity shortage, but Americans can’t do it alone, without cooperation from your government. The U.S. brought energy experts to work with Zambian ministries for over two years, and we jointly developed a plan to reform the sector and ensure better electricity delivery to the people.”

A government that thinks it can exist in isolation and make it deceives itself. Even with all the accolades of America being a great country, it still needs other countries like China that not long ago lent it a huge amount of money. Equally, America needs countries like Zambia just as much as Zambia needs America.

Therefore, any disagreements between the two countries will only work to the disadvantage of both. Most importantly, donor countries and their representatives must not discard the established lines of communication when there are matters of serious concern, as a show of respect for the recipient country and government. Flexing some muscle for each other takes away the integrity of diplomacy which we all know comes with strict etiquette.

It is clear that the current purported breakdown in diplomatic relations has more to do with Zambia’s punitive homosexual laws than it has with lack of accountability of donor funds. We can however agree that in as much as Zambia is free as a sovereign nation to abhor the practice of homosexuality, it would be more beneficial to an ordinary child in rural Zambia if government were to be as strict in enforcing anti corruption legislation as it is when it comes to homosexual offences between consenting adults in their privacy.

21 Comments

  1. dance

    Homosexual is not the only sin prohibited in the bible, now today zambia practices several sins such as insults, murder, hatred, superiority among others which are against the bible. Dr foote did not say Zambians should practice homosexual instead bemourned over the judgment imposed on those two gays!!! The problem with Zambians too much exaggerations where u even start blaming people who are not even involved. Moreover, we are even tired ba reporter every day “homosexual”

  2. nshilimubemba

    Promoting gayism is bad , this guy Foote knows how homosexuals are more impacted by HIV pandemic and suicidal deaths , and there is more people amongst the African-American people who are shouldering the brutal deaths from AIDS , if this quest is encouraged in Zambia we shall have more Zambians infected with the deadly disease no one wants hear about.
    Our African nations will be more devastated and People will be dying like flies not only from AIDS but also by committing suicides , we who live in countries were this act is accepted have known how these people are challenged .
    Foote is just in business where will he sell his medicines if he can not expand his area of business , what most of you don’t know is p that every disease that comes about in the world it brings business opportunities.

    • Brian

      Anyway, I am glad this came out. I was really looking forward to hear upnd’s position on this. Now that they have been silent I can conclude about the allegations. It’s true ukwebele infwa ya noko mutanshi.

  3. Jms

    Please, please, please even dance has explained clearly what Daniel Foote mention,but in my surprise it sims some people are very much behind, thats why their is need to engage education to Zambians, Zambian education is very much behind,very unfortunate.

    • Monk

      I think it is you JMS who is behind not Zambians…..just check your vocabulary ” in my surprise” suppose to read “to my surprise”……”need to engage education to Zambians” to read ” need to educate Zambians”.And there is no such a thing as “Zambian education is very behind”.

      If I were you I would consider going back to school, even it means adult education.

  4. Elias

    Continue supporting Zambia in health sector, but we don’t support gaysim

  5. Kaya

    The bitterness by Foote was as a result of him being homo and putting himself in the position of his fellow homos.
    Anyone who saw Foote’s outburst will tell you that there was certainly something personal about Foote’s behaviour.
    The man is a disgrace to normal human beings and the earlier that he leaves Zambia, the better it will be for us.

  6. ba70

    You cant stop what has began. Whether you like it or not żambians today will say no to homo buh in the future wiĺl say yes to homo…..even our president said dont force them they will surely agree to it one day as for ñow let them…..us is the last charpter in the bible so none will we do about homo.

  7. Chief Mumbo

    What Mr Foots has said which making sense and it is very important to us Zambian because the Anti corruption commission as now stopped working even the chief justice we don’t know were he works.We just Mr speaker Dr Matibini we don’t know the rules of justice if is to support the ruling party just so.Because judges are made to judge according and follow the rules but not to defend the ruling party.

  8. Zambian Patriots

    I think as Zambians let’s take sense from Foote’s nonsense,
    “homosexuality is a serious offense so should be the stealing of G.R.Z funds and corruption.”

  9. King cool

    Did Foote come from his father’s womb ? Or his mother’s womb?

  10. c00p

    Here is the thing, each country is allowed to practice it’s own tradition & customs. Polygamy is a traditional practice here in some parts of zambia but is illegal in all 50 according to the USA Edmunds Act. Yet you do not see other countries imposing their customs on them. The issue of HIV goes far beyond homosexuality and contributes to problem rather than helping it.

  11. kelly

    Where is this guy from I mean imagine such a man talking about how zambia has had the same issue of HIV medicines benefiting only the other country with almost 4 billion of money in last 15 years

  12. E c l 2003

    American english and chibolya english is different by far especially to cadaz pa inter-city abena k zulu ze mwapez you,,, umusungu nga alelanda ba ndola ifiingi filapita,

  13. Chisanga

    Are u from your father’s wom
    b?

  14. US/Zambian human rights violation victim

    We demand accountability for the gross rights violations inflicted on us, in abuse of the judicial process and state machinery. We have been so humble and patient but such patience has run out as we gave been dehumanised and now facing death. Both Zambia and Anerica…owes us a debt for pillaging, torture and manipulative extortions inflicted on us. We demand complete restoration and accountability.

  15. mulonda

    “The greatest enemy of truth is time,”Daniel Foote is bad today, but tomorrow he will be remembered.

  16. Sakala

    The first cases of HIV were reported amongst homosexual people. Therefore homosexuality and AIDS maybe related

  17. Big Moose

    Just take a moment and assume if Zambia was the country supporting the USA. But then it becomea clear that Zambia is giving aid and money to a country that allows homosexuality in some places of their country…would Zambia stop sending money?

    In short, the US has zero obligations to give Zambia in any way. This is issue involves social and political processes that the common Zambian will never understand, and thats sad.

    Lets hope America keeps helping Zambia, but let us also be prepared for when the help stops coming.

  18. Moses phiri

    I’m in Zambia because I’ve no choice and neither did I’ve a choice before I was born. When I get my hands on good money I’ll abandon this idiocy. I never signed up for this. Zambians have a propensity of concluding issues wrongly even when they are succinctly addressed. Whenever someone gives his view on something the person is always assumed as the character of the view; allow people to do things that are non detrimental to wellbeing today they will say you are also doing it — if you allow people to be homosexuals in Zambia you are also a homosexual. It’s like you’ve to be a sister or a brother of someone by blood for you to defend them. No help is given to people you are not related to. Addressing homosexuality: people aren’t born homosexuals and neither do we choose to fall in love with our partner. Love comes naturally from the attraction we receive from our partner. Some people fall in love with dogs, children, their fellow sex etc. However, what is immoral in this is falling in love with something that has a low intellect. It’s immoral to fall in love with a dog, a cat etc and this can be justified even though your feelings are neutral. No one makes an agreement with animals to have sex. In homosexuality mature adults are involved and an agreement is made. What they do in private doesn’t affect themselves and you. Those who are saying there’s a high spread of HIV and AIDS are flying blind. Even homosexuals go for an HIV test and sex isn’t roughly done like you think. You could be in a homosexual relationship and never get HIV and AIDS, it’s possible. And the fact that something has a risk of something doesn’t get to why it is immoral. You could be similarly be saying skydiving is immoral, because the parachute might not open, or driving is immoral, because you might cause an accident.

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