Africa-Press – Zambia. Easter weekend was ablaze with news of Foreign Affairs Minister Stanley Kakubo visiting Sinoma Cement with a view to “ordering pockets of cement and premix cement,” as he puts it on his Facebook page, whereby some unscrupulous individuals surreptitiously zoomed in on him and took photos of him and offloaded the same on social media.
This immediately elicited a backlash from a number of individuals, for or against: “Hon. minister; you should not be casual, stop visiting these companies, you can make an order with a phone call, or you could have sent your project manager,” Shadrick Malulu, an expatriate UPND sympathizer based in South Africa weighed in. “You could have refused the gift too.”
A Kitwe based ward councilor, Davies Kasengele had this to say, “You went for a mission which the Chinese were not happy about; and for them to stop you from continuing troubling them, they set a trap of cameras so that after this pressure, they should not be hosting you again.”
“How small was the calendar to fit in a small bag?” wondered Thomas Sipalo, a prominent comedian. “If there were no pics involved, were you still going to explain to the masses what you’ve explained?”
As the minister endured such relentless bashing, there were however some individuals that immediately sprung to his defense. “Olo wenze na briefcase, ask them ni briefcase yanyoko,”Matomola Likwanya, a senior UPND provincial official wondered.
Hilda Mutanuka further advised the minister as follows; “Sir, stop proving your point. People are still gonna say what suits them; it’s no different from the person throwing stone at a barking dog!”
One may argue that people are entitled to their own opinions in a democracy but it is of course worth considering the serious questions that Democratic Party leader Harry Kalaba who served as Foreign Affairs minister for 4 years raised. He quips, “It’s unprecedented for a Minister of Foreign Affairs to interact with an ambassador outside his office alone. It is beneath his office. And the minister should give a better explanation than the one he has given.”
He goes on to ponder: Gears Initiative Zambia Executive Director, McDonald Chipenzi seems to sum it all when he weighs in and advises ministers in the new dawn government to avoid situations that compromise President Hakainde Hichilema’s stance on the fight against corruption.
Of course, Hon. Kakubo strikes us as a decent fellow who can’t even hurt a fry. It’s a pity he found himself in such a situation as there wasn’t anything seemingly untoward about the same. To avoid such situations in future, we should simply enact a law prohibiting lavishing of government officials with gifts!
This same democracy we seem to profess is borrowed from the United States of America, we shall cite typical examples from former US President, Barack Obama’s book – A Promised Land.
On a state visit to Saudi Arabia before his famous Cairo speech, Obama found himself a ‘perfect’ guest of the Saudi monarchy. As he retired to King Abdullah’s complex, he was shocked to find himself in a room adorned with enormous gifts!
He describes one of the gifts as thus, “a necklace half the length of a bicycle chain, encrusted with what appeared to be hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of rubies and diamonds – along with a matching ring and earrings.”
One of his officials explained that others in the delegation had equally found cases with expensive watches waiting for them in the rooms. Apparently, nobody told the Saudis about their stringent prohibition on gifts. We ought to educate our visitors about such to avoid the Kakubo case, moving forward!