PRESIDENT LUNGU ADDRESS THE AFRICAN MEMBERS OF THE DIPLOMATIC CORPS IN ZAMBIA

I AM HAPPY TO RECEIVE YOUR EXCELLENCIES AT STATE HOUSE IN ORDER TO CONVEY TO YOU ALL, THE APPRECIATION OF MY GOVERNMENT FOR THE UNWAVERING SUPPORT RENDERED TO THE ZAMBIAN PEOPLE BEFORE, DURING AND AFTER THE ELECTIONS.

AS PART OF OUR CONSTITUENCY, YOUR EXCELLENCIES STOOD BY THE ZAMBIAN GOVERNMENT AND ITS PEOPLE, DURING WHAT WAS A SINCERELY VERY CHALLENGING ELECTORAL PERIOD. HOWEVER, THIS RESULTED IN THE ZAMBIAN PEOPLE LIVING UP TO THEIR RENOWNED REPUTATION OF EMERGING PEACEFUL AND UNITED, FOR THE GOOD OF THE COUNTRY.

ALLOW ME TO ALSO EXPRESS MY PROFOUND GRATITUDE FOR THE PROFESSIONAL MANNER IN WHICH OUR VARIOUS REGIONAL OBSERVER MISSIONS, INCLUDING THE SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY (SADC) ELECTION OBSERVATION MISSION (SEOM), COMMON MARKET FOR EASTERN AND SOUTHERN AFRICA (COMESA), AFRICAN UNION (AU) ELECTION OBSERVER MISSION (AU EOM) AND ALSO THE SADC PARLIAMENTARY FORUM (SADC PF), CONDUCTED THEMSELVES DURING THE ELECTORAL PERIOD.

FURTHERMORE, THE OUTPOURING OF GOODWILL THROUGH THE NUMEROUS CONGRATULATORY MESSAGES FROM MANY OF MY FELLOW AFRICAN LEADERS IS INDEED A MANIFESTATION OF THE SOLIDARITY THAT WE SHARE.

I WAS DEEPLY HUMBLED AND APPRECIATIVE OF THE PRESENCE OF SOME OF MY DEAR COLLEAGUES AND REPRESENTATIVES OF OTHER HEADS OF STATE WHO GRACED THE MOMENTOUS OCCASION OF MY INAUGURATION CEREMONY. THEIR PRESENCE SIGNIFIED THE HIGH ESTEEM IN WHICH ZAMBIA IS HELD AS WELL AS OUR EXISITING STRONG BONDS OF FRIENDSHIP.

IT IS BY THE SAME TOKEN THAT ZAMBIA IS EQUALLY COMMITTED TO CONSOLIDATING DEMOCRACY IN MANY OF OUR SISTER COUNTRIES, PARTICULARLY THROUGH PARTICIPATION IN ELECTORAL OBSERVER MISSIONS AS WELL AS MEDIATION PROCESSES.

AS A GROWING DEMOCRACY, ZAMBIA UNDERWENT A POSITIVE AND DECISIVE ELECTORAL PROCESS WHICH WILL SERVE AS A KEY LEARNING CURVE IN OUR DEMOCRATIC DISPENSATION.

I AM PLEASED TO NOTE THAT, DESPITE THE POCKETS OF VIOLENCE THAT WERE REPORTED AROUND THE COUNTRY, THE ZAMBIAN PEOPLE EMERGED UNITED AND PEACEFUL, RESOUNDING OUR SLOGAN OF “ONE ZAMBIA ONE NATION”. THIS ENABLED US TO CONTINUE TO SHINE AS A BEACON OF PEACE AND TORCH BEARER IN THE CONDUCT OF SUCCESSFUL AND PEACEFUL ELECTIONS IN THE REGION, IN AFRICA AND INDEED BEYOND.

YOUR EXCELLENCIES,

ZAMBIA HOLDS IN HIGH ESTEEM HER RELATIONS WITH YOUR RESPECTIVE COUNTRIES, WHICH ARE BASED ON SHARED INTERESTS AND ASPIRATIONS, PARTICULARLY THOSE RELATING TO THE PROMOTION OF THE IDEALS OF DEMOCRACY, PEACE AND STABILITY, AND THE PURSUIT OF DEVELOPMENT.
AS AFRICAN COUNTRIES, WE NEED TO RISE ABOVE OUR DIVERGENT AND CONFLICTING VIEWS AND PRIORITISE THE UNITY AND PROGRESSION OF OUR GREAT CONTINENT, AFRICA.
IN THE SPIRIT OF BROTHERLINESS, RATHER THAN CASTIGATING OR SHUNNING EACH OTHER, WE NEED TO ENCOURAGE ONE ANOTHER BY PROVIDING CHECKS AND BALANCES IN AN EFFORT TO STEER OUR RESPECTIVE NATIONS TOWARDS HIGHER LEVELS OF POLITICAL, ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL PROGRESS IN TANDEM WITH THE AU AGENDA 2063.

THE PRESENCE OF YOUR GOVERNMENTS, THROUGH YOUR INDIVIDUAL MISSIONS, IN ZAMBIA IS A TRUE REFLECTION OF THE COMMITMENT BY YOUR RESPECTIVE GOVERNMENTS TO ENSURE THAT THESE RELATIONS ARE NURTURED AND ACCRUE MEANINGFUL BENEFITS.
HOWEVER, I WOULD LIKE TO SEE MORE INTERACTION BY YOUR EXCELLENCIES IN TAKING ADVANTAGE OF THESE GOOD RELATIONS BY ENGAGING IN MORE FREQUENT CONTACTS WITH RELEVANT GOVERNMENT INSTITUTIONS.
I CAN ONLY SAY THAT THE MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND THE PERMANENT SECRETARY AT THE MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS HAVE RECEIVED VERY FEW REQUESTS FROM YOUR EXCELLENCIES, THE AFRICAN DIPLOMATS DESIRING TO MEET WITH ME ON ANY ISSUES. I WONDER WHERE YOUR EXCELLECIES OBTAIN YOUR INFORMATION FROM.
I THEREFORE, ENCOURAGE YOUR EXCELLENCIES TO UTILISE THE “OPEN DOOR POLICY”OF THE MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS TO INCREASE INTERACTION WITH GOVERNMENT AND OTHER RELEVANT INSTITUTIONS.
AS AFRICAN DIPLOMATS, YOU SHOULD CONSIDER YOURSELVES AS ZAMBIA’S PRIORITY. BEFORE WE CAN CONSIDER INTERACTION WITH THE REST OF THE WORLD, THERE IS NEED TO ATTEND TO ISSUES WITHIN OUR OWN HOME, WHICH IN OUR CASE IS THE AFRICAN CONTINENT. THERE IS A LOT THAT WE CAN TOGETHER ACHIEVE AS AFRICAN COUNTRIES.

YOURS EXCELLENCIES,

WITH THE RENEWED MANDATE GIVEN TO US BY THE ZAMBIAN PEOPLE ON 11TH AUGUST, 2016, MY GOVERNMENT’S APPROACH IN THE NEXT FIVE YEARS IS TO ENSURE THAT WE WORK CLOSELY WITH OUR AFRICAN BROTHERS AND SISTERS.

WE ARE COMMITTED TO SHARING OUR EXPERIENCES IN ORDER TO NOT ONLY OVERCOME THE CHALLENGES THAT WE FACE IN OUR VARIOUS COUNTRIES, BUT TO MAXIMISE THE OPPORTUNITIES THAT ABOUND DUE TO THE ABUNDANT RESOURCES IN EACH OF OUR COUNTRIES.

WE THEREFORE, NEED TO PROMOTE THE INTRA-AFRICAN COLLABORATION WHICH WILL IN TURN GUARANTEE A BETTER LIFE FOR THE PEOPLE WE SERVE., THE PEOPLE OF AFRICA.

IN THIS REGARD, THE CHALLENGES WE FACE MUST BE TURNED INTO OPPORTUNITIES FOR FOSTERING FRIENDSHIP, PEACE, AND PROSPERITY NOT ONLY IN AFRICA, BUT THROUGHOUT THE WORLD.

OUR MUTUAL EFFORTS REFLECT NOT ONLY ON THE RELATIONS ZAMBIA SHARES WITH YOUR RESPECTIVE COUNTRIES, BUT ENCOMPASS AFRICA’S COLLECTIVE RESOLVE AND PURPOSE IN OUR QUEST TO ACHIEVE A PEACEFUL, STABLE AND DEVELOPED AFRICA PARTICULARLY THROUGH OUR AFRICAN UNION BLUEPRINT, AGENDA 2063.

YOUR EXCELLENCIES,

DESPITE THE COMMON CHALLENGES OUR COUNTRIES FACE SUCH AS CONFLICT, POVERTY AND CLIMATE CHANGE, IT IS GRATIFYING TO NOTE THAT, AFRICA THROUGH OUR CONTINENTAL BODY, THE AU HAS FOSTERED AN UNWAVERING UNITY OF PURPOSE TO FIND SOLUTIONS FOR OUR CONTINENT. THIS HAS BEEN ACHIEVED BY RENEWING OUR COMMITMENT TO PROMOTING PEACE AND SECURITY, DEMOCRACY, AND SOCIO-ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT FOR AN EMANCIPATED AND POWERFUL CONTINENT OF AFRICA.

I WISH TO THEREFORE IMPLORE YOUR EXCELLENCIES TO EXPLORE NEW AREAS OF COOPERATION BETWEEN ZAMBIA AND YOUR INDIVIDUAL COUNTRIES AS THIS WILL UNDOUBTEDLY, PAVE WAY FOR INCREASED TRADE AND MEANINGFUL ECONOMIC, SOCIAL AND CULTURAL COOPERATION. ULTIMATELY, OUR INDIVIDUAL BILATERAL RELATIONS WILL BE ENHANCED FOR THE BENEFIT OF OUR COUNTRIES AND PEOPLES.

YOUR EXCELLENCIES,

I WISH TO TAKE THIS OPPORTUNITY TO REASSURE YOU THAT ZAMBIA REMAINS COMMITTED TO CONTRIBUTING TOWARDS BUILDING A BETTER AFRICA, THE AFRICA WE ALL WANT. AS SUCH WE WILL ENDEAVOUR TO CONTINUE TAKING A PROACTIVE ROLE IN REGIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL ORGANS.

MY GOVERNMENT IS COMMITTED TO THE PROMOTION AND MAINTENANCE OF PEACE, SECURITY AND STABILITY IN ORDER TO EFFECTIVELY CONTRIBUTE TO THE DEVELOPMENT OF OUR CONTINENT. TO THIS EFFECT, I LOOK FORWARD TO CONSTRUCTIVE ENGAGEMENT WITH YOUR RESPECTIVE HEADS OF STATE, AT VARIOUS FORA, AS WELL AS MORE MEANINGFULLY AT BILATERAL LEVEL.

YOUR EXCELLENCIES,

AS THE PATRIOTIC FRONT GOVERNMENT STEERS ZAMBIA TOWARDS PROSPERITY FOR ALL, WE SHALL PURSUE A PROGRESSIVE FOREIGN POLICY WITH PARTICULAR EMPHASIS ON ECONOMIC DIPLOMACY, WHICH, THROUGH OUR VARIOUS PARTNERSHIPS, WILL ACCRUE MUTUAL BENEFIT FOR OUR COUNTRIES.

IT IS THROUGH INCREASED INTERACTION THAT ZAMBIA AND YOUR RESPECTIVE COUNTRIES CAN DRAW LESSONS AND FOCUS ON BUILDING PARTNERSHIPS ACROSS THE CONTINENT TO STRENGTHEN OUR INSTITUTIONS, SPUR ECONOMIC GROWTH, TRADE, AND INVESTMENT AS WELL AS PROMOTE OPPORTUNITIES AND DEVELOPMENT.

YOUR EXCELLENCIES,

MY GOVERNMENT IS COMMITTED TO UPLIFTING THE LIVES OF THE PEOPLE OF ZAMBIA THROUGH ECONOMIC DIVERSIFICATION SO AS TO SPUR WEALTH CREATION; MITIGATE POVERTY AND CREATE JOBS; INFRASTRUCTURE DEVELOPMENT; AND INCREASED SOCIAL SECTOR SPENDING.

AS INDICATED IN MY ADDRESS TO THE 1ST SESSION OF 12TH NATIONAL ASSEMBLY ON FRIDAY 30TH SEPTEMBER, THE AGRICULTURAL SECTOR WILL BE THE PRIORITY AREA FOR OUR AMBITIOUS DIVERSIFICATION PROGRAMME DURING THE NEXT FIVE YEARS. THIS MAMMOTH TASK CAN ONLY BE ACHIEVED THROUGH STRONG PARTNERSHIPS WITH OUR PARTNERS, WHO INCLUDE ALL OF YOU.

TO THIS EFFECT, ZAMBIA IS COMMITTED TO BUILDING AND STRENGTHENING THE EXISTING COOPERATION WITH ALL YOUR COUNTRIES AS WELL AS ESTABLISHING NEW AVENUES OF MUTUAL PARTNERSHIPS IN AREAS THAT CUT ACROSS TRADE AND INVESTMENT.

YOUR EXCELLENCIES,

AS MY GOVERNMENT EMBARKS ON OUR RENEWED FIVE-YEAR MANDATE TO SERVE THE ZAMBIAN PEOPLE, IT IS IMPERATIVE TO EVALUATE OUR BILATERAL RELATIONS, BUILD ON THE PROGRESS MADE THUS FAR, AND LIKEWISE, EMBRACE THE CHALLENGES AND FAILURES IN ORDER TO OPTIMISE OUR RENEWED FOCUS AND PARTNERSHIPS. ON OUR PART AS ZAMBIA, WE ARE EVALUATING OUR BILATERAL RELATIONS.

IT IS CARDINAL FOR YOUR EXCELLENCIES TO CONTINUE TO ENGAGE WITH THE GOVERNMENT AND THE PEOPLE OF ZAMBIA AS WE SHARE COMMON ASPIRATIONS, CHALLENGES, CULTURAL VALUES AND A DEVELOPMENTAL AGENDA FOR OUR GREAT CONTINENT, AFRICA.

AS I CONCLUDE, I WISH TO REITERATE MY CALL FOR MORE FREQUENT INTERACTIONS WITH THE GOVERNMENT, THROUGH THE MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS.

I THANK YOU AND GOD BLESS YOU ALL.

Lusaka, 5th October, 2016

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