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Sweden’s aid timely

ZAMBIA enjoys bilateral relations with almost all the countries in Europe.
And each of these countries has made a positive impact on Zambia in one way or the other.
For instance, Sweden has been Zambia’s bilateral partner since the 1960s and has been one of the pillars of development.
Sweden’s help to Zambia has been in several forms – budget support, trade and capacity building to enable Zambia to stand on its own someday.
Sweden’s relation with Zambia has been strategic in terms of development cooperation through the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA), which has been instrumental in supporting sectors such as social cash transfer, agriculture, energy, financial sector deepening, as well as integrated rural development.
Sweden’s aid to the health sector cannot be ignored because of its impact on enabling the country to meet some of its obligations.
Therefore, the signing of the K3 billion four-year bilateral agreement yesterday aimed at ensuring economic prosperity and uplifting people’s lives has not come as a surprise.
The gesture by Sweden reinforces its desire to enhance human rights, democracy, rule of law, gender equality, health and renewable energy.
Human rights, democracy, rule of law and gender equality are the tenets of any democracy like Zambia.
Although Zambia’s democracy is relatively young, it is impeccable. It, however, still needs to be harnessed. So Sweden’s contribution will stimulate the drive to ensure that citizens continue to enjoy their human rights.
Human rights can only be enjoyed when citizens are sensitised about their rights as they form an important facet of the governance framework.
Respect for human rights, democracy and gender equality confirms the country’s adherence to globally accepted international treaties, norms and practices.
And that is what Sweden wants Zambia to achieve because our democracy is respected in Africa but is still work in progress given the gaps in human rights.
The continued assistance to the health sector and renewable energy has demonstrated Sweden’s cross-cutting assistance to Zambia which should culminate into ensuring economic prosperity and uplifting people’s lives.
This is so because the agreement, which will run for four years, will contribute to reduce inequality, improve climate resilience, enhance human rights, democracy and rule of law and sustainable economic development.
The co-operation is a win-win affair as it also includes prospects of the two governments working towards a more sustainable relationship, especially that it will also promote Zambia by strengthening its conditions in domestic resource mobilisation, international trade and investment.
It comes at a critical time as it will complement Government’s efforts in financing critical developmental programmes.
Beyond this, Sweden has endorsed Zambia’s democratic tenets as well as the country’s developmental agenda.
We urge stakeholders responsible to implement the strategy in accordance with the principles and processes of the Swedish government.
They should also bear in mind that the Swedes are very particular with the aid given to any country, including Zambia.
On two occasions they have suspended aid over alleged abuses. The Swedish government, through its parliament, has accountability mechanisms that monitor how the taxpayers’ money is being used by recipient countries.
We should not fall into that sad past of donor aid being frozen due to embezzlement of funds because if that happens, it is the poorest of the poor who suffer.
The Patriotic Front government is a pro-poor administration and should ensure that every coin is not only accounted for but is used for its intended purpose.