Zambia Reports (Lusaka)

Zambia: Kabimba Embraces Cuban Socialism

Following a visit by a Zambian delegation to Cuba this past week, Minister of Justice Wynter Kabimba has taken a confrontational stance against Washington by stating his government's "permanent support" for the Cuban regime on the issue of the blockade and the Cuban Five prisoners.

Speaking in an interview published by Cuba's state-owned newspaper Granma, Kabimba shared some ideological perspectives that have been interpreted by some parties as step toward socialism by the ruling Patriotic Front.

Among other statements, he expressed criticism of foreign investors in Zambia, remarking that they do little to contribute to development, while also slamming "Western forces with economic interests" for intervening in the conflict in Mali.

According to the translated introduction in the article in Granma, "Today we live in a world characterized by injustice, where the powerful nations have the ability to decide how to gain access to the natural resources of less developed countries and what they will pay for them. A world where the rich are getting richer, and the poor poorer. Such considerations relate to the secretary general of the ruling Patriotic Front party of Zambia Wynter Kabimba, who during his recent visit to Cuba spoke with Granma."

"Currently we are facing the phenomenon of globalisation, which determines the global economic order and has turned the world into small village in which 'the partners' are in conditions of inequality," Kabimba said to Granma, later emphasizing that the ideal solution would be to "rebuild the dominant economic order so that social justice wins."

"In Africa, we now have political independence, but this won't be enough for us to obtain economic independence," Kabimba said.

Asked about the challenges Zambia faces from the global financial crisis, Kabimba said "the level of foreign direct investment is high, but most of it doesn't contribute to the development of our people and this is something we must revert to from a legal point of view."

Commenting on the PF's social policies, Kabimba told the Cuban press that the Zambian government it has subdivided the districts so that government spending is distributed in the most equitable manner and so that each community decides what are its development priorities.

The issue of re-districting and creation of new provinces in Zambia has in the past created signficant controversies, as citizens complain that they were not consulted while opposition parties decried the unconstitutional decrees which circumvented parliamentary procedure.

Asked about regional security issues, Kabimba took aim at the foreign intervention in Mali: "The question that we should be asking ourselves is 'who is the instigator of this conflict?' In my opinion, it's the Western forces with economic interests who, once again, want to control our natural resources. The issue of terrorism in Africa is a smokescreen, a front."

Kabimba said that in university he studied a course on Latin American history, and learned that today the Latin American people are uniting in search of economic independence "to fight against the multinationals who for years have taken control of their wealth."

Kabimba also praised Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa, who was recently reelected to a third term in office, and also praised the "good examples" of Bolivia, Venezuela, and Brazil.

"In Africa, we are watching with hope what is happening in Latin America and the Caribbean," Kabimba said. "We see that it is possible for the people to defeat imperialist forces. For example, in Venezuela, when a coup de etat was organised by the CIA, we saw a people who went out into the streets to defend their government they had voted for. It's important to understand that what happens today in countries like Honduras and Paraguay constitute the exception and not the rule, like it happened in the past."

Concluding the interview, Kabimba said "our position with respect to the blockade and the Five is that of permanent support. For us, injustice is injustice, whether it is against Cuba, against Palestine, or against the the Polisario Front [Western Sahara]. Here you have an ally in Zambia."

According to the 2012 report by monitor Human Rights Watch, "Cuba remains the only country in Latin America that represses virtually all forms of political dissent. In 2011 Raúl Castro's government continued to enforce political conformity using short-term detentions, beatings, public acts of repudiation, forced exile, and travel restrictions."

Kabimba's comments are likely to raise concerns in Washington, which was previously supportive of the Patriotic Front's campaign in 2011. Many commentators online are also speculating what his comments will mean for future policies in Zambia.

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