ZAMBIA is one of the world’s top recipients of US aid, ambassador to Zambia Daniel Foote has revealed.
Speaking during a press briefing in Lusaka yesterday, Foote said Zambia receives up to $500 million from the US government each year.
Foote also revealed that the US is providing free anti-retroviral drugs for about 1 million Zambians living with HIV/AIDS.
But he is concerned that the Zambian Government does not want to be checked on how this donor money is applied.
“In my two years, I have strived to improve the US-Zambia partnership, with minimal success. Let us stop the facade that our governments enjoy “warm and cordial” relations. The current government of Zambia wants foreign diplomats to be compliant, with open pocketbooks and closed mouths. Minister of Malanji reminded me that I have, ‘always been granted audience to the Ministry and the government of Zambia’. That is not the case. With few exceptions, the U.S President’s personal representative to Zambia -me-has been relegated to meeting with the ministry of foreign affairs at the permanent secretary level. Despite $500 million in annual American, debt-free support to the Zambian people, I have been granted exclusive bilateral audience with the President only five times in two years, usually with delays of months upon my request, and little action of mutual respect has been taken by State House,” ambassador Foote said.
He said both the American taxpayers, and Zambian citizens, deserve a privileged, two-way partnership, not a one-way donation that works to $200 million per meeting with the head of State of State.
“My job as U.S ambassador is to promote the interests, values and ideals of United States. Zambia is one of the largest per-capita recipients of the U.S assistance in the world, at $500 million each year. In these countries we contribute resources, this include partnering in areas of mutual interest, and holding the recipient government accountable for its responsibilities under this partnership,” he said.
He said I the last 15 years, the US has provided more than $4 billion in HIV/AIDS support.
“Working closely the Ministry of Heath, we currently have well over 1 million Zambians on life-changing anti-retroviral medicine, touching close to half of the families in the country,” he said.
Foote described the relations between Zambia and the US as strained and decaying and urged the Zambian Government to rethink its conduct.
Last week, Foote commented on the jailing of two gay men in Kapiri saying he hoped corrupt government officials who stole public and donor money could also be jailed.
“It is inconceivable that two men can sentenced to 15 years imprisonment for having a consensual relationship which does not hurt anyone, while government officials can steal millions of public funds with consequences,” he said.
He also urged Zambia to rethink its laws on gayism.
Foote has however faced backlash from the Zambian Government who accuse him of interference and imposing gayism on Zambians.