The following rubbish was published in the PF controlled Daily Mail as and editorial
AMBASSADOR Mark Storella’s reference to Zambia as one of the best countries to live in Africa must not be taken as flattery or even good old fashioned diplomacy.
The words are refreshing to hear especially given the fact that they are coming from an official of Mr Storella’s standing at a time that state protagonists have thrown not only the sink but the kitchen too at the government.
In case some of our readers do not know whom Mr Storella is, we can break it down like this:
He is a veteran career diplomat who represents the interests of the most powerful and richest nation in the world, which is known for telling it as it is without holding any punches back.
So when he gives the country full marks when some of the government’s adversaries—and it’s their democratic choice—have been portraying a picture of a nation in crisis or plainly on fire, it must count for a lot.
The United States’ representatives of Mr Storella’s level have been known to be harshly critical in their assessment of the general performance of many governments in the Third World, especially sub-Saharan Africa in the past.
Its envoys have not hesitated to condemn excesses and voice their concerns on poor economic management and governance and even graft by simply calling a spade a spade to the chagrin of many African leaders.
But on Wednesday night during the celebration of the United States national day in Lusaka Mr Storella spoke glowingly about the country’s strides in strengthening democracy, with opposition parties concurrently peacefully taking over power through elections without any loss of blood unlike other countries in Africa.
He also commended the country for its continued hosting of refugees from neighbouring countries and beyond stretching back to the 1970’s or just after independence when Angolan, Congolese, Somalian and many other people made this country their second home due to turmoil in their countries of origin.
Zambia hosted them without making any demands, with open hands and without prejudice.
Mr Storella was not trying to please anyone because he does not have to, but was merely expressing what he has observed in the four years he has been in Zambia that saw him witness the momentous and historic change of power from Rupiah Banda to President Michael Chilufya Sata.
Yes, there have been misunderstandings once in a while, but the government and opposition parties have not been tearing at each other’s throats as seen in other countries to levels of international alarm.
Zambia is a beacon of hope and continued peace in the region and this must be cherished and guarded jealously. This is one of the reasons it has continued to attract foreign investment and attention especially in the mining and construction sectors.
“We do not always agree. But Zambia can serve as an example for all nations in tolerance and dispute resolution,” were Mr Storella’s profound words.
Mr Storella’s endorsement comes on the heels of the nomination of Zambia as one of the top contenders for a coveted finance award for the best 2012 Eurobond by the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) finance magazine an international magazine, which specialises in monitoring emerging markets.
Only recently Standard & Poor’s rating services reaffirmed Zambia’s B+/B long and short-term foreign and local currency sovereign credit rating, in recognition of its prudent economic management.
The Patriotic Front has put job creation at the core of its development agenda especially through road and rail construction.
In the last one month the press has been awash with advertisements for hundreds of jobs in the civil service, a clear indication that the best is yet to come as Rome was not built in a day or a year for that matter.
Only yesterday this newspaper reported that the government, through the Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA), will soon recruit 4,000 conservation officers’ countrywide, creating jobs that were not there.
Investment bankers of unquestionable repute such as Goldman and Sachs sung the same song not so long ago when they rated Zambia as a “must” investment country on top of others so clearly it’s up to Zambia to mess things up given the over-whelmingly good reviews.
It is clear that the government is serious about uplifting the living standards of citizens. This is coupled with improved governance, which has seen the un-yoking of the public media from government control.
We are aware that some of the PF’s adversaries, especially the opposition political parties and non-governmental organisations, will find it difficult to agree with Mr Storella for obvious reasons.
It is their job to disagree and along as a nation agrees to disagree peacefully then its ok.
But it is sheer malice for protagonists such as UPND President Hakainde Hichilema to give the proverbial dog a bad name and then kill it.
The truth will remain that a spade is a spade even if you try to call it a spoon just because you are opposition and opposition must be critical because that appears to be their job in Zambia.
We are therefore urging opposition parties and the civil society to acknowledge the achievements the government is scoring on both the political and economic fronts, and equally slam them when they stray.
But the government should not sit on its laurels on the other hand just because Goldman and Sachs, Euro magazine and many others have said we are a favoured destination. The US kudo’s—because we believe that’s what he tells the State Department in his briefs—must spur our leadership to step up their efforts to lift millions of Zambians out of the of poverty they inherited from the MMD through focused development.