President Edgar Lungu says Zambia has made significant strides to enhance democracy as can be seen from the freedom of expression and assembly that citizens are able to exercise freely.
According to a statement issued by State House chief analyst for press and public relations Cecilia Mulenga, Wednesday, President Lungu was speaking when he met the European Union Election Followup Mission (EU- EFM) at State House.
The delegation paid a courtesy call on the President to follow up on its recommendations on the country’s electoral process.
The European Union Election Follow up Mission (EU- EFM) was led by former Chief Observer for the European Union Election Observation Mission 2016, Cecile Kyenge who is also Member of the European Parliament.
During the meeting, the President said Zambia had made significant strides to enhance democracy as could be seen from the freedom of expression and assembly that citizens are able to exercise freely.
President Lungu bragged that it was during the reign of the Patriotic Front government that the country had seen the opening up of a number of television and radio stations, an indication that there was media freedom in Zambia.
And the President said he was concerned that tribalism and regionalism had continued to threaten democracy not only in Zambia, but also the African continent.
“Unless tribalism and regionalism is tackled on the African continent, democracy will elude the continent,” President Lungu said.
He suggested that in order to address tribalism and regionalism, there was urgent need to institute education campaigns to sensitise citizens on the importance of coexisting as brothers and sisters regardless of different persuasions.
President Lungu urged the EU-EFM to be cognisant of the dynamics at play, such as tribalism and regionalism which had a bearing on how citizens exercised their rights or how they voted during elections, as they conduct their monitoring on the electoral process in Zambia and in other countries.
The Head of State noted that tribalism and regionalism had resulted in intolerance, making government efforts to propel the country to economic prosperity difficult.
Meanwhile, the President has advised that political parties including the ruling party should not harbor perpetrators of violence.
“There is need to disown political supporters who perpetrate violence with impunity to bring peace to the political space. They must be educated that political parties can not be associated with violence. Therefore, sensitisation must be an ongoing process and not only be done in the shadow of electioneering,” said President Lungu.
And Cecile Kyenge, Head of the EU-EFM, hailed Zambia as a strong actor in the Southern African region particularly the SADC region.
She said with Zambia’s strong position in the SADC region, the European Union would continue to work closely with the Zambian government.
The EU-EFM Head urged the President to ensure that Zambia continued to work hard to maintain its strong position in the SADC region.
Meanwhile, Head of the EU Delegation to Zambia Ambassador Alessandro Mariani, who accompanied Kyenge, paid tribute to the people of Zambia for their peaceful nature.
Others who accompanied the Head of EU-EFM included EU Election officials and experts.
Presidential Affairs Minister Freedom Sikazwe, Foreign Affairs Minister Joseph Malanji and Permanent Secretary Chalwe Lombe also attended the meeting.
The team is in the country to hold a series of meetings with various stakeholders.