Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Return to Lusaka

When I received email from a man called Anderson Mazoka in the middle of 2003, asking in general terms about how democracy might prosper in the Third World, I had no idea that the unassuming letter was from a man who many regard as the rightfully elected President of Zambia. Mazoka narrowly lost an election in 1991 in circumstances observers regard as controversial. Although he had ties to the South African ANC, Mazoka had come to see that Zambia's problems could not be solved by the usual Marxist nostrums. In his letter to the Belmont Club he wrote:

I am interested in the exchange of ideas and am seeking balance and a connection with conservative Americans for both myself and my country. I have young university educated supporters in Zambia and in the UK who would be willing to lend their time to this effort as well. ... Am quite taken by your writing but distressed by your pessimism.

Politics in that part of the world being what it is, Mazoka survived three assassination attempts, one of which put him in a coma for two months, and having partially recovered in a South African hospital, has announced his intention to return to Zambia to pick up where he left off. The last two gentlemen I knew who tried a stunt like that were Benigno Aquino and Evelio Javier. One was dead within minutes and the other in a few weeks after arrival. Both were idealistic Third World politicians who had done spells in Ferdinand Marcos' jails and were eager to see whether the shiny new ideas they learned at a Harvard would make a difference in their homelands. But things can look different from the vantage of Cambridge Massachusetts; safer and more reasonable. What they will actually look like is the way Anderson Mazoka is going to see it. George Tenet described the struggle to bring order and prosperity to the "stateless zones" and failing countries which breed international terrorism as essential to the security of the United States -- and to the future of the peoples who live there. There, on a high plateau on the western side of the Rift Valley, Anderson Mazoka is going to try it.