Zambia Reaps Rewards of Positive Neutrality and Economic Diplomacy While Others Flounder

Maintaining a balance of international partnerships is critical for Zambia’s economic development. Foreign powers play a central role in supporting domestic infrastructure, mining investment, and health and education programmes.

African governments are rightly resistive to polarising views of geopolitics that seek to pigeonhole them into being aligned with the West versus China and Russia. President Hakainde Hichilema of Zambia provides an important example that non-alignment or ‘positive neutrality’ can be more than just rhetoric and can bring genuine economic benefit.

This weekend, from 31 March to 1 April, Hichilema welcomed United States vice president Kamala Harris. Her visit is part of a charm offensive across the continent to counter perceived Chinese influence. She arrived only a day after US Secretary of Education Dr Miguel A Cardona lead the US Delegation to co-host the second summit for Democracy, an initiative of President Biden. Furthermore, it is only two months after US Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen travelled to Lusaka to re-invigorate the stalling debt treatment process.

But Zambia’s friendships in Washington have not come at the expense of important economic ties to Beijing. On Friday last week, president Hichilema commissioned the final of five new generators to be brought online at the Chinese-built Kafue Gorge power station. The president emphasised the ‘all-weather friendship’ between the two countries and his desire to further grow the relationship. Despite controversy over Chinese…

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