CHAPADONGO LUNGU, New York
AFTER providing what is ostensibly the panacea to the countryâ€™s socio-economic challenges during a speech hailed by majority, President Lungu now turns his focus to economic diplomacy when he joins over 150 world leaders attending the United Nations (UN) General Assembly in New York.
The President delivered his plans anchored on key economic and social sectors and policy direction which, if implemented, would give the country the jolt from global factors and national phenomena weighing against the national economy.
The President has continued to receive plaudits for his speech, which also sought to unite Zambians â€“ as always â€“ and assuredly gave citizens hope for a better tomorrow.
Having laid the ground for economic take-off at home, the President is heading to New York, a city abuzz for one more reason â€“ Pope Francis is on his way to the metropolis for the UN General Assembly, the 70th.
President Lungu has over the last few months strengthened relations with most countries in the region and will be in the United States of America for the first time since assuming office in January this year.
His message in all the countries he has been to is consistently straight and aimed at giving the due dignity to humanity through the promotion of peace and love, observance of democratic ethos and sustenance of development that benefits citizens.
As he attends the UN General Assembly for the first time as President, he is unlikely to depart from his passionate call for development for all, particularly in the Third World, where disease and poverty afflict many, illiteracy is taking its toll on citizens and civil strife is erroneously seen as routine.
It is against some of these ills that the Pope is likely to speak as he addresses the world on his first visit to the US, straight from Cuba, Americaâ€™s polar opposite on all issues until recently.
In New York, Pope Francisâ€™ visit is visible. His image is seen from the smallest piece of literature to the posters on the tallest skyscrapers of Manhattan.
One is inscripted: â€œCommemorate Pope Francisâ€™ historical visit to the United States this September with a truly inspirational fine jewellery creation that uniquely keeps a meaningful message of faith, hope and modern morality close to your heart.
â€œA revolutionary leader who has influentially changed the present state of the Vatican, Pope Francisâ€™ commitment to the poor, support of inter-faith dialogue, concern for the environment and simplistic approach to the papacy has helped transform the Catholic Church and the world with an open and welcoming mind.â€
The Pope, who is already in the US completing his formalities in Washington, will, of course, join US President Barrack Obama and many other heads of State at the General Conference, which starts on tomorrow.
He will address the General Assembly on Friday, a day before President Lungu gives his maiden speech.
For the record, Pope Francis is not the first Pope to address the General Assembly; many others have since the 19th century, with Pope John Paul (II) being one of the most captivating.
In 1995, he gave a speech that still reverberates in the minds of many to date. He said: â€œFreedom is not simply the absence of tyranny; freedom is ordered to the truth and is fulfilled in a manâ€™s quest for the truth and in a manâ€™s living in the truth.â€
This yearâ€™s General Assembly is special in many ways. First, it marks an end to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) some of which have been achieved while others are still begging for more effort. Among other things, the MDGs sought to eradicate extreme poverty, eliminate disease and maternal and infant mortality.
A revision has seen the launch of the Sustainable Development Goals, whose approach is more focused and polished and are poised to achieve results.
Zambiaâ€™s permanent representative at the UN Mwaba Kasese-Bota said on Monday that the goals speak to the economic, environmental and social challenges that have beset mankind. Zambia, she said, has been a party of pencilling the document which has â€œmore elaborate goalsâ€ and hopes that the 2030 Agenda, as it is called, will bear fruit.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs permanent secretary Chalwe Lombe said this yearâ€™s General Assembly is special because President Lungu will deliver his maiden speech, adding his voice to many challenges the world is faced with.
He said the President will give his vision of international scale, broadening his address to Parliament last Friday, which charted a clear way forward.
â€œThe Presidentâ€™s speech was monumental,â€ Mr Lombe said, encouraging Zambiaâ€™s missions abroad to read to get not only policy direction but inspiration.
Mr Lombe said he would ensure all major pronouncements are made available to missions abroad so that â€œif there is anything they are starved of, it should not be informationâ€.
And there will be plenty of information from the 154 heads of State that have confirmed their attendance.Â Delegates and members of the media busied on Monday and yesterday to obtain last-minute accreditation.
Security has inexorably been heightened because of the magnitude of the conference â€“ 154 heads of State, the Pope, and the people.
And save for a fully conscious semi-naked man with a strip covering his essentials, everything about New York is serious business, and so will the UN General Assembly.
Forget about the trivia of Mr Naked Cowboy just as you should about a woman milling around the media accreditation centre giving out literature that attempts to mischaracterise President Obama.
CHAPADONGO LUNGU, New York