from ARNOLD MULENGA in Lusaka, Zambia
LUSAKA, (CAJ News) – THE participation of former United Kingdom (UK) Prime Minister, Tony Blair, at the high-level Digital Government Africa in Zambia has sparked some anger.
The opposition Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) is the most vocal critic of the ex-UK’s premier, who it describes as a controversial and polarising figure.
Indeed he is, especially during his tenure as Prime Minister from 1997 to 2007.
“This decision not only raises concerns within the country but also invites international negative attention, undermining the potential for positive regional and international engagement,” said Kasonde Mwenda, President of the EFF.
He was speaking of Blair’s presence at the Digital Government Africa Summit that started on Wednesday and is to end on Friday (October 6).
Zambia, the Southern African country, has been cosying up to Blair and Western nations since former opposition leader, Haikande Hichilema, was elected president in 2021.
The State House in 2022 signed an undisclosed agreement to work with the Tony Blair Institute.
“The lack of transparency surrounding this agreement is deeply troubling, as it raises questions about the terms and conditions under which Blair will be advising and influencing the Zambian government,” Mwenda said.
EFF said as an organisation committed to the principles of accountability and justice, it believed it was imperative to shed light on Blair’s “controversial history”, which raises serious doubts about his suitability as a participant in the summit.
“Blair is a highly controversial figure, with his tenure and actions shrouded in controversy and public revulsion,” Mwenda said.
Among scandals EFF cited as incriminating Blair include the Iraq War, Intelligence Manipulation, Hutton Inquiry and the Cash-for-Honours Scandal, all which were internal and international disasters for the British government.
“In light of these controversies, we question the credibility of the choices being made at the State House, headed by the Zambian head of state and Smart Zambia,” Mwenda said.
At the summit, Blair urged African leaders to be innovative, focused and determined to achieve digital transformation in Africa.
Critics accuse the current Zambian administration of betraying the ideals of liberation that the Southern African country’s founding fathers fought for.
Zambia, alongside Tanzania, is lauded for the liberation of Africa, particularly the southern regional bloc, from colonialism and apartheid.
– CAJ News