UNITED Kingdom Minister for Africa James Duddridge says elections give citizens a chance to change politicians who do not spend money well.

Speaking during a press briefing, Wednesday, Duddridge said the UK government was supporting the “exciting change” in Zambia.

“It was a great privilege to meet with Mr President today, to talk about his priorities and how the UK can help with those priorities both on short term and over the longer term. One of the critical things he talked [about was] delivering business opportunities, growth opportunities, jobs to the people of Zambia, particularly through trade and doing business with neighbours and the region but also through the internationals such as the United Kingdom. In that way, through companies making money and paying tax and government functioning, that is the right way we want society to work. If politicians don’t spend the money well, you get a chance at the election to change the politicians and how they spend the money,” Duddridge said.

“So, it is the next critical component to getting Zambia working more effectively, you have done the democratic change over, now growing the Zambian economy for the Zambian people. We in the UK as long-term friends for Zambia are committed to being part of that. It is because of our love, desire, commitment to the people of Zambia and not to the specific President or a political party, we are supporting this exciting change. Thank you to all the Zambian people for showing that experience and inviting me to see the beginnings of a new government.”

Duddridge said the peaceful transition of power in Zambia should not be taken for granted as it did not usually happen around the world.

“It is a great privilege to share yesterday (Tuesday) with the Zambian people. The fruition of democratic process and a peaceful transition from one party to another, from one President to another. We in the UK don’t take this for granted, it doesn’t always happen around the world. In fact, since 1990, it has only happened 24 times on the African continent where a party has democratically handed over power to another party and another leader. Three of those 24 have been in Zambia. This is not a one-off, you have a history of transitions of power. I know it wasn’t easy to do and we can’t take it for granted,” said Duddridge.

“When you start thinking about the democratic process for the next election, it is something you need to think about every day to make sure that you have the freedoms and society that you need, you want, you deserve and that is never taken by the centre in an undemocratic way. From driving to the inauguration to being at the inauguration of 60,000 people, you sensed powerful excitement that goes with change. Change means different things to different people.”

Earlier, Duddridge met with President Hakainde Hichilema and announced the introduction of two new areas of UK support to Zambia.

The areas announced were the £7 million girls’ education funding to build and expand schools, reaching 70,000 children and £2 million of investment funds for small and medium-sized enterprises to deliver growth and cope with the impact of COVID-19.

Meanwhile, British High Commissioner to Zambia Nicholas Woolley said the recently held elections had shown Zambia’s strong democratic values.

“Yesterday the UK Minister had the honour of speaking at the inauguration of Zambia’s seventh Republican President Hakainde Hichilema. The Minister talked about what a momentous occasion it was, not just to see the 60,000 or so Zambians at Heroes stadium but also the millions across the country who were watching. I think the message that the elections have sent in terms of yet again Zambia showing strong democratic transition, it was a momentous occasion and it is important to Zambia’s rich history and a comparative to democracy and a nation that wants to see its liberties and fundamental freedoms protected,” said Woolley.