BENEDICT TEMBO, Lusaka
UNITED States (US) Ambassador to Zambia Eric Schultz says President Lungu has shown leadership internationally.
And Norwegian Ambassador to Zambia Arve Ofstad has commended President Lungu and his Cabinet for making bold decisions on tackling challenges in terms of diversifying the economy as well as developing alternative sources of energy such as solar power.
Mr Schultz cites Mr Lunguâ€™s speech at the United Nations (UN) General Assembly calling for greater efforts to allin New York eviate poverty, regionally with his efforts to mediate conflicts, and domestically with respect to the passage of constitutional amendments.
â€œThe Government of the United States congratulates President Lungu on his one year anniversary as President,â€ Mr Schultz says.
President Lungu clocks one year in office today.
Highlighting the Zambia-US relations, Mr Schultz says over the course of the year, the two countries have forged deeper bonds that further strengthen their long-standing friendly relations.
â€œThis includes more than US$400 million in US health assistance to Zambia, particularly to eliminate the scourge of HIV/AIDS; our US$355 million commitment to improving Lusakaâ€™s water supply, sanitation, and drainage through the U.S. Millennium Challenge Corporation; and extensive joint training and capacity building, such as U.S. military training for Zambiaâ€™s troops for the peacekeeping effort in Central African Republic,â€ he says.
He adds that much of the credit for Zambiaâ€™s return to African peacekeeping belongs to President Lungu, who started this initiative when he served as Minister of Defence.
â€œIn 2016, we look forward to free, fair, transparent, and peaceful elections that will further enhance Zambiaâ€™s democratic credentials – so important to the countryâ€™s further development and to its playing an increasing role in the region and indeed in Africa,â€ Mr Schultz said.
He explained that in 2016, the US also looks forward to the Zambian government embracing the economic reforms needed to make the Zambian economy more efficient and more competitive â€œand we stand ready to help in that regardâ€.
And Mr Ofstad acknowledged that 2015 was an extremely challenging year economically when Mr Lungu took office.
â€œThe President and other government officials have made a number of important statements on how to meet these challenges in terms of diversifying the economy as well as developing alternative sources of energy such as solar power.
â€œNorway is a co-operating partner to Zambia, and we look forward to the swift and full implementation of the announced policy measures,â€ Mr Ofstad said.
He said Norway congratulates Zambia on the approval of a new constitution, which further secures Zambia as a democratic country.
â€œIn line with Norwayâ€™s global position, we encourage Zambia to approve a Bill of Rights that secures human rights including equal rights and opportunities for women under traditional as well as statutory law. We strongly urge Zambia to abolish capital punishment, and have taken positive note that the President in 2015 converted all capital convictions to prison sentences,â€ Mr Ofstad states.
Francis Chigunta, a lecturer at the University of Zambia (UNZA), said without any doubt, Mr Lungu became President at a delicate moment.
â€œEconomic growth was at its lowest in 12 years, there were challenges with revenue inflows and mining companies were threatening to close operations because of a new tax system implemented that month that they claim was unsustainable.
â€œBut President Lungu only had about a year and a half before the next general elections are due,â€ Dr Chigunta said.
He said these challenges could overwhelm any president.
â€œCommendably, the President seemed aware of the huge task ahead of him,â€ Dr Chigunta said.
Cataloguing Mr Lunguâ€™s achievements, Dr Chigunta said major achievements during the past one year include:
Â·Â Appointing a woman Vice-president;
Â· Creating the Ministry of Development Planning;
Â·Â Launching the youth empowerment and employment plan; and,
Â·Â Assenting to the amended constitution.
â€œHe needs to do more in terms of fighting tribalism, corruption and job losses, and also strengthening public expenditure management,â€ Dr Chigunta said.
BENEDICT TEMBO, Lusaka