Zambia Has A New President (and Mugabe)
Zambia has a new, hastily-installed president. Michael Sata is fuming. The Zambian opposition leader has lost yet another election, this time to Rupiah Banda (pictured left), the man who took over from Mwanawasa. Banda took a leaf out of Mugabe's book and was sworn in "hastily", within minutes of the results being confirmed. And here's a surprise, hastily arranged as it was, Banda and the Zambian government still found time INVITE MUGABE TO THE SWEARING-IN. And even more surprising is that Mugabe actually showed up and was amongst those who witnesses this swearing in at an ungodly morning hour.
President Rupiah Banda was born in 1937 in Gwanda, in the south of what was then Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), but he is a Zambian national. Banda served for a long time under Kenneth Kaunda, starting as ambassador to Egypt, then the United States. After that followed an appointment as the Zambian Representative to the United Nations. From there, Kaunda made him Foreign Minister in the 1970s. He is a businessman of some note in Zambia, most prominently as owner of KB Davis, a supplier of equipment to copper mining companies.
Did Mugabe not refuse to go to Lusaka for the Emergency Summit on Zimbabwe organises by Mwanawasa just after our June 27 joke of an election? And how was he able to respond so fast and attend? I presume he was sitting at Gracelands in Helensvale, which is his permanent home now, twiddling his thumbs when the call came through. How many litres of fuel were burned on this round trip? What did the trip cost? What will it achieve for Zimbabwe? And was it diplomatic to attend the swearing-in when Sata is still disputing the results?
Questions questions.....and these should also be asked of Banda himself. Was this election really free and fair (SADC has already declared it to be!)?. If so, why the rush to be sworn in at the crack of dawn, before Zambians even woke up? Should Zambians be worried by the manner of this swearing-in? If they are, there isn't much they can do. The West apparently loves Banda's pro-business policies. Nothing wrong with that at all, unless in doing so, the common man is ignored. Make no mistake, Banda is no Third Wayer. With most of the unpalatable legislation already in place (such as the fact that only Zambians can start a company in Zambia), all the new government needs to do is make the right noises. Mwanawasa had sensible policies and his anti-corruption drive was genuine. A true Third Wayer, he understood what it takes to get 5% GDP growth per annum as well as lift thousands of people into the middle class every year. Banda would do very well not to have original ideas of his own, if the manner of this swearing-in is anything to go by. He must just follow whatever he saw Mwanawasa doing when he was president. Except on Zimbabwe, of course. There, he has already made his intention of cosying up to Mugabe clear. I am not sure Banda even knows what the Third Way is. Still, let us not judge too hastily. All we can say is that the people of Zimbabwe now can not count on Zambia in their fight against Mugabe. The new president of Zambia, it seems, wants to play pally pally with Bob. Oh, Damnation!