Zambia’s Vice President Her Honour Mrs. Inonge Mutukwa Wina on Monday met with the Commonwealth Secretary-General Ms. Patricia Scotland at Marlborough House in London.
The Vice President was accompanied to the Commonwealth Secretariat by Zambia’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, His Excellency Mr. Muyeba Chikonde and officials from the Vice President’s office and the High Commission.
Mrs. Wina congratulated Baroness Scotland on her election as the first female Secretary-General of the Commonwealth.
The Vice President also thanked Ms. Scotland for the support extended to Zambia by the Commonwealth Secretariat before, during and after the 2016 August Presidential, Parliamentary and Local Government elections. She expressed profound gratitude to the Secretary- General for the contribution of the Commonwealth Election Observer Group led by His Excellency Dr. Jakaya Kikwete, former President of the United Republic of Tanzania and the deployment of Professor Ibrahim Gambari as special Adviser on Political Dialogue to help the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) deliver credible elections.
The Vice President applauded the cordial and warm relations that have existed between Zambia and the Commonwealth Secretariat for the past 50 years. She also expressed appreciation for the support and benefits Commonwealth membership bring to the people of Zambia, and the Southern African region.
Mrs. Wina stated that the Zambian Government remains committed to the core values and principles of the organization as contained in the Commonwealth Charter. She said that the Zambian Government respects and firmly upholds the Commonwealth values and principles of democracy, human rights, international peace and security, freedom of expression, separation of powers, rules of law, good governance, sustainable development, environmental protection, access to health, education, food and shelter, youth development and gender equality, among other.
She called upon the Secretary General to continue with the support to the Electoral Commission adding that Zambia would appreciate further Technical assistance in legislative review and drafting including mineral resource mapping and improvement of the legal framework in this field.
And the Secretary-General also welcomed Her Honour the Vice President and congratulated her for being appointed as the first female Vice President of the Republic of Zambia. She further thanked the Vice President for the support rendered to the observer team and underscored the fact that the format used in the General Election of Zambia had formed a best practice Template and was used in other Commonwealth Countries that subsequently held General elections recently. The secretary General was optimistic that the template was going to help other countries in future elections.
Baroness Scotland assured the Vice President that the Secretariat was going to provide support where they could and congratulated Zambians for the milestone in coming up with a new Constitution which she referred to as a lesson to other Commonwealth countries. Ms. Scotland said that Commonwealth countries shared common laws and values and the Zambian experience was going to help other countries because updating existing legislation was easier than coming up with new ones.
She informed Mrs. Wina that there was a planned conference of Trade Ministers in March, 2017 to promote trade within the Commonwealth and to discuss common legislative tools.
The Baroness informed Mrs. Wina that she had embarked on reforms of the Secretariat in order to make the organisation more effective and was glad that she was able to bring in some partners and the participation of the organisation in COP 21 and subsequent negotiations help to reinforce this view.
The Vice President informed the Secretary-General that the issue of climate change was serious because the effects were being experienced in Zambia in form of flush floods and drought. She said that the organisation needs to support its members to establish early warning systems to mitigate the effects of climate change.
In response, the Secretary General pointed out that there was need to come up with ways of reversing the effects of climate change moving away from the mitigation and adaptation. She said countries have bits of information which need to be pooled together for greater effects adding that sharing information was important to avoid countries repeating what had not worked elsewhere because information had not been shared.
She also proposed hosting a conference of distinguished and inspirational women. She observed that there was a growing number of women in leadership within the Commonwealth and bringing them to one table would create an impact and act as a spring board and help women voices to be louder.
The Vice President was informed that the Commonwealth Secretariat also provided technical support in the area of natural resources considering that the country was endowed. The Commonwealth Secretariat offered to help with technical support in policy analysis, development and legislative framework for the extractive industry.
Mrs. Wina pointed out that Zambia was leading the continental in Women and Girls Child rights and was willing to share its experience especially in the involvement of traditional rulers in the elimination of Child Early and Forced marriages.
Meanwhile Deputy Secretary-General (Political) Dr. Josephine Ojiambo upheld Zambia on the efforts and measures that Government has taken on ending Child, Early and Forced marriages and the rights of girls. She proposed that traditional leaders could share how the problem was being handled in the Chiefdoms and how the Commonwealth can learn from Zambia’s practices.
The Commonwealth comprises 52 countries after the departure of the Maldives and are united by common values, language and legal frameworks and the head of the Commonwealth is the Queen. The Commonwealth Heads of Government (CHOGM) Summit is the supreme organ that meets biannually. The next CHOGM will be hosted by the United Kingdom in 2018.
Issued by: Abigail Chaponda (Mrs.) First Secretary | Press and Public Relations Zambia High Commission in the United Kingdom