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Hichilema ,Ruto in Paris: Who made more sense?

This week, a video of Kenyan President William Ruto speaking at the just ended meeting in Paris went viral across Africa.

In Zambia, in addition to that video, the government communicators also circulated a second video of Mr Hakainde Hichilema speaking at the same meeting, obviously believing that Mr Hichilema said something impressive. This allowed us to compare what the two leaders said, but we will only point out one key difference between them for now.

While Mr Hichilema impressed Western leaders like Emmanuel Macron and others by urging “speedy” implementation of agreements and plans WITHIN the existing financial and political-economic architectures/frameworks and arrangements dominated and controlled by the West, President Ruto questioned these very structures and the power relations under which they operate, and how they favour the West and consign and confine Africa and the Global South to perpetual poverty, underdevelopment, and subjugation to the West.

As Ruto rightly illustrates, there can be no meaningful global development and redressing of the existing global inequalities without dismantling these structures. No amount of debt restructuring or even cancellation can address this.

In a nutshell, therefore, Mr Hichilema impressed the West as usual, but President Ruto and others, like South Africa’s Cyril Ramaphosa, held their own weight and spoke truth to the West in ways Africa’s leaders should.

By circulating Mr Hichilema’s speech pandering to the West, the UPND have managed to mislead some of their supporters and a few uncritical minds. But the more alert of our people know the importance of understanding what Mr Hichilema and other African leaders said in Paris within the right political-economic context in which Africa continues to suffer from historical and ongoing injustices and inequalities.

Only a leadership that refuses to accept the current Western-designed global order will begin to lift Africa out of these unequal relations; the poverty and underdevelopment they perpetuate. What Mr Hichilema is saying to impress the West has been said before by many leaders before him who, like him, saw the West as saviours and superiors, but this only tightens the chains that Africa should be breaking free from.

So, when supporters were mobilised to welcome and cheer Mr Hichilema as he returned from Paris, the UPND and its leadership must realise that development has never been delivered by any such theatrics and sycophantic behaviour.

Fred M’membe
President of the Socialist Party