Chris Zumani Zimba, Political Scientist, Author, PhD Scholar, Lecturer and Consultant
Within the UN cycles and international politics, the decision by the US President, Donald Trump to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel was the most important and notorious news of December, 2017. For Trump and the Republican Party as well as the US government, this decision was justifiable based on: (1) political campaign promises, (2) policy position of the ruling party to always stand and defend Israel and Christianity, (3) the collective faith and Christian values of most American Republicans, and (4) personal religious alignment and political theories of the current US President himself.
However, Turkey and Yemen co-sponsored a resolution which called on all countries to refrain from establishing diplomatic missions in Jerusalem as a political and diplomatic protest against the US decision. Following the United Nations (UN) Vote in the General Assembly, the following were the results: 128 countries condemned the US decision, 9 countries supported the US’ decision, 35 countries abstained while 21 countries did not participate in the vote. Shockingly, Zambia is among the 21 countries that did not participate in this UN vote. In the General Assembly Hall, the database uses the following notations to present the voting information for each member state: Y = Yes, N = No, A = Abstentions, Blank = Non-participating, and 9 = Not eligible to participate. Thus, the Lusaka government’s vote just showed ‘Blank’. The questions are: what happened, what does it mean, what is its impact and importance, why fail to participate and take a clear position, how, so what, etc?
Below, we identify and critically discuss 14 reasons as to why Zambia’s UN position on Jerusalem as it stands betrayed its citizens and the Republican Constitution:
- Zambia cannot give any false excuse to say they were intimidated by threats from President Trump when he said that “Let them vote against us, we’ll save a lot. We don’t care. But this isn’t like it used to be where they could vote against you and then you pay them hundreds of millions of dollars and nobody knows what they’re doing” or US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley when she vowed to “take names” of countries that will vote against Washington. This is true because many Islamic and Arabic countries that receive more donor aid from the US than Zambia openly denounced and voted against Washington on principle of their sovereign laws, religious faith and government policies. For example, Afghanistan’s Pakistan and Iraq has by far received more money from the US Department of Defense (DOD) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) than Zambia since 2001. And despite being the fourth biggest recipient of military funding of above $1.1 billion recently, Egypt was leading the push at the UN to condemn and vote against Trump’s Jerusalem decision. Therefore, Zambia just betrayed it sovereign self, majority peoples’ faith and the constitution for reasons outside aid threats. It is clear that prior vote aid threats by the US to influence the voting pattern had no single impact on sovereign states that were precisely decided.
- Zambia is among the top ten countries with dominant Christian citizens in the world. Recent statistics confirm that than more than 86% of Zambians are self-confessed Christians by faith. Given this religious background, it is surely a moral betrayal of the majority Zambians for its government to refuse to take side on a crucial UN vote which sought to recognize Jerusalem as the Capital of the Jews and Christians. As it stands, it is a diplomatic mockery and political contradiction of the year 2017 to have a ‘Christian Nation’ with majority Christian citizens taking a policy position that disadvantages Israel-USA/Jewish-Christian interest and favors Arabic-Islamic/Palestinian interest on the global stage. Unquestionably, Zambia was morally responsible to support the US decision on Jerusalem openly in the name of Jesus Christ, Moses, David and the Bible just like all Islamic states openly rejected and denounced it in the name of their Muslim citizens, the Quran and Muhamad.
- In its amended 2015 Republican Constitution as well as the old version, Zambia is among few countries in the modern world which has an official Christian Identify and is deemed ‘a Christian Nation’, under the oath of its Supreme Law. Given that no country in the modern world apart from Israel itself is publicly known as ‘a Christian Nation’ apart from Zambia, its failure to participate on this controversial but important UN vote which was the only chance to show and defend the former Southern Rhodesia as a country that is governed by Christian values and carries the flag of Jesus Christ is indeed a huge foreign policy hypocritical disillusionment as well as a diplomatic and political betrayal to its own sovereign constitution. If the was a single country in the world which was supposed to naturally, morally, spiritually, legally and politically support the US and Israel on this UN vote, then it would have been a ‘Christian Nation’ called Zambia.
- In what could be called ‘a national referendum’ on the ‘Christian Declaration’ in 2012-2014 through the Constitution Review Commission, all the ten provincial and national constitutional conventions voted to uphold and sustain the Christian Declaration in the Republican Constitution. Therefore, without any question, debate or doubt, Zambia’s non-participation in the UN vote over Jerusalem is anti-majority citizens’ position as it contradicts the national voice of Zambian stakeholders and betrays as well as misrepresents their collective religious identity both at national, regional and global stage.
- On the Jerusalem UN vote, it is not wrong to say that the Zambian government lacked full recognition and respect for its Sovereign God, Holy Book and Spiritual Saviour-Jesus Christ. Why should the Zambian government hurriedly support/sponsor a national consultative process to ask the masses decide either to remain or leave the International Criminal Court (ICC) in 2017 itself but pathetically fail to do the same or more on a question that directly affects the religious belief of its majority citizens and national identity as enshrined in the Supreme Law? If the political rulers and diplomats did not know what and how to vote on this issue, the government could have engaged and consulted its Christian citizens and stakeholders who respect, worship and praise ‘holy Jerusalem’ every day. Clearly, Zambia’s neutral position on UN Jerusalem vote as it stands pragmatically undermined and defiled its legal, moral and spiritual covenant with their Christian God, Bible and Jesus Christ.
- Apart from Kenneth Kaunda who was/is religiously non-aligned and supports all religious beliefs, all the other 5 Republican Presidents have been 100% self-confessed committed Christians. While FTJ Chiluba declared Zambia as a ‘Christian Nation’, Levy and Banda supported and kept it. Given that PF campaigned and won to defend the ‘Christian Declaration’, late Sata went on to announce that his government was to rule based on the Bible’s Ten Commandments while President Lungu officially promised to keep his political master’s legacy. If this is the case, then Zambia’s current UN position on Jerusalem is a betrayal of its MMD and PF political leaders in the name of FTJ Chiluba, Levy Patrick Mwanawasa, Rupiah Bwezani Banda, Michael Chilufya Sata and Edgar Chagwa Lungu himself.
- In order to cement the Christian Declaration the Republican Constitution, the PF government under President Sata went on to walk the talk by establishing the Ministry of Religious Affairs and National Guidance with an ordained Church Reverend as its Cabinet Minister. At cabinet and parliamentary level, Zambia has full representation of a policy and law maker respectively who is entrusted with the mandate of ensuring and guaranteeing that Christianity is mainstreamed in national governance. Certainly, there was no better African state that would have supported the US decision on Jerusalem better and openly than Zambia just like all Islamic states openly rejected and denounced it in the name of Allah.
- And apart from laying a foundation for the construction of a state Christian cathedral in Woodlands, President Lungu officially declared 18th October as a Public Holiday-National Day of Prayers and Reconciliation. Surely, all these policy gestures confirms that the PF government could have been the first ally of the US and Israel to support this UN Vote to strengthen the political and diplomatic position of Jews and Christians over Jerusalem just like historically, the UNIP government used its party policies and government position to support Palestine as opposed to Israel.
- As it is, it is clear that Zambia is an overt political hypocrite and a dangerous unreliable ally to both the US-Israel and Arab-Muslim cause as well as Jewish-Christian position. For Donald Trump, the recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel was a political and moral fulfillment of his campaign promises under the Republican Party. For Zambia, it is surely shocking and disappointing for the PF government to have taken a neutral position on the Jerusalem UN vote because both the party and President Lungu campaigned and won with a loud commitment of defending the Christian agenda in governance. Under the PF manifesto, the task of defending the ‘Christian Declaration’ remain one of their priority policy commitment. Therefore, when political promises fail to easily translate into government policies and political actions for the party in power, then there is serious moral delinquency and political problem on the side of the rulers: the PF government has only confirmed that on the UN Jerusalem vote.
- Constantine the Great is mainly remembered and respected because of one reason: he was personally responsible as the powerful Roman Emperor to have first authoritatively used his political position to decree and order for the spread and growth of Christianity across the Roman Empire and globe. Unlike Trump who is just a confessed Christian and Republican politician, Zambia’s President Lungu tries to fulfill and sustain the Christian rhetoric by praying or reading the Bible in public appearances in the name of the Jewish Messiah, Jesus Christ. Towards the end of 2017, the Zambian Christian President, Edgar Chagwa Lungu was in Israel were he even visited the tomb where Jesus Christ was buried and resurrected. For sure, this was one of the key reason President Lungu could have behaved like the Roman Constantine the Great, to use his personal faith in Jesus Christ to push his way to ensure that Zambia openly supported the US decision on Jerusalem. For example, President Muhamad Buharri of Nigeria like all/most Muslim Presidents did it openly-he used his personal faith as a Muslim to push and ensure that Nigeria sided and voted against the US and Israel.
- In this global context of vicious geo-politics and military rivalry, Zambia had the open cheque political and diplomatic opportunity as well as religious and military reasons to side and support the US and Israel on this UN vote. Supporting and siding with the world’s supper power, the US and Mid East geopolitical power, Israel at the time that they needed state allies especially on a Christian agenda for and from a ‘Christian Nation’ like Zambia would have been a huge political boost, military advantage and diplomatic gain indeed. By taking the wall fence neutral position, Zambia betrayed both its sovereign supreme law, its people, its main religion and indeed lost a huge opportunity become the number ally of both the US and Israel in Africa. Hope they can correct it soonest.
- As one travels across Zambia, it is visible to see that there are many projects almost in every district that are funded and carry the labels: ‘with support from the American People’ under the auspices of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). For example, in the health sector alone, the Zambian government remain fully aware that USAID has been the consistent lead donor in the fight against HIV and AIDS while the Americans are equally relevant in financing other sectors of the country such as water and sanitation among many others. As an academician, I am still waiting to learn which sectors Palestine and Islamic countries are funding in Zambia in comparison to the Americans. Based on the aforesaid, Zambia had a morally obligation to certainly side with America in appreciation for its long term cordial bilateral relations and consistent financial as well as technical support to this ‘Christian Nation’.
- Zambia openly supported Palestine during the UNIP government era of Dr. Kenneth Kaunda with a Palestinian embassy opened in Lusaka while Israel was both denounced and rejected. This was obvious because Kaunda and UNIP firmly believed in the liberation of every ‘oppressed state’ as well as was/is personally non-aligned in terms of religion-Zambia’s first President believes in Jesus, Muhamad, Moses, Buddha, etc. However, Zambia’s Mid East policy has now changed as the modern ‘Christian self-confessed’ Presidents and governments have improved diplomatic relations and enhanced closer ties to and with Israel as opposed to Palestine. For example, (1) both the MMD and PF Presidents and their top government officials have made significant inroads to Israel over the past decades, (2) Zambia opened an embassy in Israeli in 2015, and (3) many Israeli investors have visited Zambia and shown interest to venture into Zambia’s energy, agriculture and manufacturing sectors. The obvious was to show open solidarity and support both the US and Israel on this crucial UN vote.
- President Lungu, the current Zambian President and his top government delegation were in Israel towards the end of 2017 on official state visit. After engaging the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu and his officials, the Zambian delegation were in high praise of the birth place of Jesus Christ as Christians themselves. In addition, Israeli’s Benjamin Netanyahu even met President Lungu latter in Addis Ababa where he promised Zambia to host the 2018 Israel-Africa Summit. Undoubtedly, all these were reasons enough for the Zambian government to vote with Israel and support the US decision on Jerusalem. But as it stands, Zambia gambled its sovereign Holy book-the Bible and betrayed their Christian faith and diplomatic Middle East ally-Israel as its current UN position on Jerusalem only favours Palestine, Arabs, Muslims, Allah and the Quran. In other words, Zambia morally denounced Jesus Christ, the Bible, Jews, Christians as well as politically betrayed its sovereign faith, God, people and supreme law.
In conclusion, Zambia’s current UN position on Jerusalem does not just betray its majority peoples’ faith which is Christianity, but it violates its supreme law-the Republican Constitution which recognizes Zambia as a ‘Christian Nation’; contradicts the PF party Manifesto which promise to uphold Christianity as well as denounces late FTJ Chiluba, late Mwanawasa, late Sata, President Banda and Lungu’s public commitments to defend Christian values and Bible teachings in governance. While all true Muslim states voted in favour of Arabic Palestine and Islam to condemn the US decision despite being major recipients of USAID military and humanitarian aid such as Egypt, Afghanistan and Iraq, Zambia’s non-participation on this crucial UN vote only confirmed one of my 2015 published and launched books entitled: “Zambia- A Christian Nation in a Brothel State for Drunkards, Superstitious and Corrupt Citizens”. With all the clouds of witnesses in form of new laws, public institutions, number of Christian citizens, party manifestoes, Presidential candidates’ campaign promises and improved Israel-Zambia diplomatic relations, Zambia’s non-participation in this crucial UN vote was both a political betrayal and diplomatic disappointment to all Zambian Christian citizens, the Republican Constitution, the global Christian community, Jews, Israel, the US, the church as well as Jesus Christ himself which makes Zambia a serious double standard ally and unreliable state player everywhere. The worst episode: the Zambian Bishops, Prophets, Pastors and Priests as well as church mother bodies are all silent about Zambia’s UN vote-they also don’t recognize or respect Jerusalem as the birth place of David, Jesus Christ, Jews and Christianity just like Palestinians, Muslims and Arabs.