PRESIDENT Hakainde Hichilema says the fight against corruption would be at the centre of Zambia’s transformation agenda.
And the President says his government will build on Dr Kenneth Kaunda’s legacy to live in peace and harmony.
Meanwhile, President Hichilema has lobbied for more COVID-19 vaccines for Zambia and other developing countries.
Addressing the United Nations General Assembly, Monday, Presdient Hichilema pledged to ensure that Zambians enjoy their freedoms and rights as enshrined in the Constitution.
“The new administration in Zambia is cognisant that a conducive governance environment is a precursor for the country’s political stability, security, economic growth and sustainable development. It also fosters enhanced transparency, accountability and consultative dialogue. With this realisation, our administration will work towards strengthening of oversight and governance institutions and ensure the independence and autonomy of the three arms of government, particularly the Legislature and Judiciary,” he said.
“The fight against corruption will be at the centre of our transformation agenda and this shall be executed with zero-tolerance. We shall also promote free media and an active civil society as they are critical in upholding checks and balances, human rights, liberties and freedoms. My government’s high priority is to restore macroeconomic stability; attain fiscal and debt sustainability; promote economic growth, enhance economic diversification and manage the contraction of debt. I am confident that these measures will restore macro-economic stability and put the country back on economic recovery.”
President Hichilema said it was important to remember Dr Kaunda’s teaching in revitalising the UN system.
“I have the distinct honour to deliver my maiden speech as the seventh President of the Republic of Zambia following the electoral victory of our United Party for National Development (UPND) in the Presidential and general elections that were held on 12th August, 2021. We were able to achieve this political transformation even at the time when Zambia was grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic, and in the midst of deep sorrow following the passing on of our founding father and first republican president, Dr Kenneth David Kaunda. I, therefore, wish to take this opportunity, on behalf of the Zambian people, to pay tribute to this iconic leader who was fondly known as KK. It is without doubt that the last remaining steward of liberation struggles has left an indelible mark on humanity,” President Hichilema said.
“Dr Kaunda’s principles, values and contributions towards the ideals of emancipation and independence did not only spread across the African continent but across the entire globe. His untold devotion to peace and unity laid the very foundation for Zambia’s stature as a beacon of peace, not only in southern Africa, but the African continent as a whole. The Zambian government will, therefore, build upon KK’s profound legacy to live in peace and harmony with one another. As we work towards this year’s theme, let us remember the important lessons that Dr Kaunda taught us, especially as we work towards revitalizing the UN system.”
And President Hichilema noted that there was inequitable access to vaccines in developing countries.
He stated that Zambia had only managed to vaccinate about three percent of its population against the country’s target of vaccinating 70 percent of the eligible population by the third quarter of 2022.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has had a far-reaching socio-economic impact globally, including, disturbing trade flows, supply chains and various economic activities. In addition to loss of lives, the pandemic increased poverty levels through job losses, stressed healthcare systems and worse still, the delivery of education to learners. Disruption to the education systems, particularly in developing countries, was in part, due to inadequate information, communication and technology (ICT) facilities,” President Hichilema said.
“In response to the pandemic, Zambia has developed a national preparedness and response plan for COVID-19, which has been used to guide the implementation of mitigation measures for the pandemic. The vaccine programme forms an integral part of the response plan. Despite our placing the vaccine programme high on the list of mitigation measures, Zambia has only managed to vaccinate about three percent of its population. This is against the country’s target of vaccinating 70 percent of the eligible population by the third quarter of 2022. This clearly highlights the inequitable access to vaccines in developing countries, especially that more than 2 billion vaccines have been administered worldwide.”
President Hichilema further called for concerted and enhanced global efforts towards promoting investments in local manufacturing capacity and technology transfer on vaccines and related infrastructure.
“It is fair to state that recovery from the pandemic hinges upon mass vaccinations before considering other reforms or facilities that tend to fail when countries lock down their economies. It is, therefore, gratifying that this session of the general assembly will consider building on initiatives such as the African Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT) and COVID-19 vaccines global access (COVAX). The two initiatives have made it possible for low-income countries, such as Zambia, to access the life-saving vaccines, which will contribute to building resilience and recovery from the pandemic,” he said.
“I wish, therefore, to express Zambia’s appreciation for the support that has been provided thus far through the COVAX and AVAT facilities, the UN system and various stakeholders. To further guarantee resilience, we call for concerted and enhanced global efforts towards promoting investments particularly in local manufacturing capacity and technology transfer on vaccines, related infrastructure, human capital as well as Research and Development (R & D).”
President Hichilema said Zambia would dedicate efforts to guarantee a stable and predictable environment that would attract and protect local, regional and foreign direct investment.
“To sustain this growth, Zambia will dedicate efforts to guarantee a stable and predictable environment that will attract and protect local, regional and foreign direct investment as well as enhance local participation in the economy. This is a prerequisite for a vibrant private sector-led economy and thus creating jobs and opportunities for everyone,” he said.
“To complement these efforts, Zambia has embarked on an ambitious economic and social transformation agenda with a view to creating equitable opportunities and poverty reduction for the Zambian people, especially the youths and women. In order to achieve this goal, our administration shall design and implement interventions aimed at inducing enhanced productivity in agriculture, mining, energy, financial services, tourism, technology, health and education as well as support the growth of micro, small and medium enterprises.”
President Hichilema called for closer cooperation and support for the adoption of better, safer, climate change-sensitive and modern methods of increased production and productivity.
“Zambia is aware of the critical role of the United Nations in guiding the world to focus on the sustainable development agenda. In particular, the 2030 agenda for sustainable development has set the tone and benchmarks for countries to incorporate sustainability in their development policies. Our ‘new dawn government’ in Zambia is committed to realising tangible growth and sustainable development while paying particular attention so that this is not achieved at the expense of future generations,” President Hichilema said
“Like many other developing countries, Zambia calls for closer cooperation and support for capacity to adopt better, safer, climate change sensitive and modern methods of increased production and productivity. Our administration has established a ministry that is the first of its kind in Zambia, the ministry of green economy and environment, to address this, among other important issues concerning environmental sustainability. This will be crucial to build the ability for implementing climate positive actions.”
President Hichilema further reaffirmed Zambia’s commitment to play an active role in the SADC mission in Mozambique, aimed at restoring peace to the Cabo Delgado Province.
“Though we have made leaps and bounds in the area of peace, security and stability, there remains pockets of conflict in many regions of the world where guns have not been silenced. The silencing of guns therefore goes beyond addressing conventional warfare, but also in addressing new emerging threats of our century which include: challenges of extremism and international terrorism, cybercrime, asymmetric warfare proliferation of non-conventional weapons and organized crime. As an international community, we need to continue to work together to address the root causes of these global threats through various national, regional and global mechanisms,” President Hichilema said.
“I however, wish to go a step further in asserting that the foundation to sustainable economic growth and development is peace and stability. Without peace and harmony, development cannot be attained. Zambia will, therefore, continue to support national, regional and international initiatives aimed at promoting peace and security. In this vein, Zambia reaffirms its commitment to play an active role in the SADC mission in Mozambique aimed at restoring peace to the Cabo Delgado Province.”
Meanwhile, the Head of State said Zambia remained committed to the advancement and promotion of women’s rights.
“The call for gender equality is now a century-old struggle for women to participate equally with men in society. Despite the realization that women’s full and effective participation in all areas of life results in prosperity, women are still, however, involved less in public life and decision-making. It is important that we continue to demand for the promotion of gender equality while paying particular attention to the rights of women, girls, children, and the rights of people living with disabilities,” said President Hichilema.
“For us in Zambia, we will remain committed to the advancement and promotion of women’s rights, and for the first time in the history of our country, our new Parliament elected the First Female Speaker to preside over Zambia’s supreme law-making organ of government. I further wish to state with pride that Zambia’s Vice President, as well as the Deputy Speaker of the House are women.”