‘Zambia will overcome economic challenges’

President Edgar Lungu during the Annual greetings ceremony by the President for members of the Diplomatic Corps Accredited to Zambia at State House on February 11,2015 - Picture by THOMAS NSAMA.

THE United States, Britain and Germany have said although Zambia is experiencing economic difficulties, they foresee a democratic country reaching ever greater heights.
In a joint statement, United States ambassador Eric Schultz, German ambassador Bernard Finke and acting British High Commissioner to Zambia Lucy Joyce said that this will be done through spurring more inclusive economic growth and reducing levels of poverty.
“Although Zambia is experiencing economic difficulties at the moment after years of growth, we can foresee a democratic Zambia reaching ever greater heights in the future; spurring more inclusive economic growth, reducing levels of poverty, producing an AIDS free generation, and educating its people,” they said.
The statement further reads that Zambia has proven itself throughout the years to be a shining example of stability, growth, and democratisation within the region and in Africa as a whole, adding that it can and should be among Africa’s leaders.
The three envoys, however, say that the coming year and specifically the lead-up to the 2016 general election will be crucial for Zambia.
They say that in this regard, the three countries are concerned about reports of political violence and alleged harassment of members of the media and opposition.
They also said it is vital that the independence of the Electoral Commission of Zambia continues to be respected and that it is able to complete the voter registration process in full.
The statement further says that for Zambia to reach its lofty, but achievable goals, it must safeguard its democratic future today.
The diplomats said that as co-operating partners, they stand with Zambia in anticipating a free, fair, and peaceful general election in 2016.
They said that as Zambia celebrates the coming of the New Year, they stand committed to helping the country on its path towards a bright future.
Meanwhile, the German ambassador says his country looks forward to Zambia having a new constitution which strengthens democracy, rule of law and human rights.
Responding to a press query, Mr Finke said Germany has been following the constitutional reform process in Zambia very closely.
“How this goal of having the constitution is being achieved is of lesser interest to me. The important thing is that Zambians remain committed to the end,” he said.
The ambassador said striving for a new constitution is a very important endeavour in every society.
He said for Germany, the constitution-making process is a matter which mainly falls into Zambia’s domestic affairs.
“Co-operating partners are no stakeholders in the process but attentive observers,” he said.
He said in relation to specifics such as the running mate or the 50 percent-plus-one-vote, it is the duty of Zambians to choose the way they want to elect their president and leadership.
“In terms of democracy, I don’t have any preferences. We have, for example, some member states of the European Union, where Parliament or heads of state and government are elected on the basis of a simple majority, others require a 50-plus 1 majority,” he said.
The ambassador said the United States run their presidential elections with a running mate, while other democracies don’t.

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