The Republic of Zambia will continue to be an active member of regional, continental and international bodies, His Excellency Hakainde Hichilema, said on 24 August 2021 soon after taking oath of office as the 7th President of the country.
At a ceremony witnessed by several Heads of States and Government from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and beyond, in Lusaka, H.E Hichilema said his government was committed to enhancing international cooperation and foreign relations. During the ceremony, Honourable Mrs. Mutale Nalumango was also sworn in as the country’s Vice President, becoming the second woman to occupy that post in Zambia.
President Hichilema said economic cooperation, trade and investment, security for peace and stability, and development will form a critical base for the new Zambian government’s foreign policy.
“We are committed to promoting open and cordial relations with our neighbours and countries on the continent and beyond. We are equally committed to pursuing a foreign policy based on mutual interest and respect. The enhancement of economic diplomacy and trade facilitation will be paramount,” he said.
President Hichilema said the victory in the election held on 12 August 2021 was not his alone, but was for all the citizens of Zambia, especially the youth who turned out to vote in large numbers.
The road ahead will not be without challenges but with a clear vision and plan, which his government has, and relentless determination, the country shall overcome and deliver on the aspirations of its people, he said.
Jobs will be created for the youths, as a new dawn had arrived where the youth will be skilled and find opportunity to work or do business in an economy that the government will revive.
In the next five years, the government’s focus would be on restoring macro-economic stability and promoting growth of the economy. The government will pay special attention to lowering the fiscal deficit, reducing public debt and restoring social and market confidence.
“To the mother, struggling with the high cost of food, a lower cost of living will soon be a reality. To the entrepreneur, seeking capital, an investor and a better operating environment, a government is here that understands your challenges and knows exactly what you need in order to thrive,” said President Hichilema.
He pledged to fix and grow the country’s so as to lift more people out of poverty, promote unity in diversity, ensure respect for the fundamental human rights and freedoms for all, restore the rule of law, and general order in public places and communities.
H.E President Hichilema commended outgoing President Edgar Chagwa Lungu for the peaceful transfer of power, and the Electoral Commission of Zambia for ensuring that the elections were successfully held despite the ravaging the COVID-19 pandemic and other challenges.
He also thanked cooperating partners for the material and financial support towards the elections, the election observers and the media, both local and international, for their role in the elections.
The government will have zero tolerance to corruption as this scourge has not only eroded the country’s much-needed resources, but had also robbed it of the opportunity for growth.
African Union Chairperson and President of the Democratic Republic of Congo, H.E Felix Tshisekedi Tshilombo, paid tribute to Zambians for consolidating democracy through the smooth transfer of power from outgoing President Lungu to President Hichilema, saying Zambians were the real winners of the whole process.
He lauded Zambia’s strong commitment to democracy and clear demonstration of the liberation of Southern Africa, its common goal for SADC regional integration and the ideals of the AU’s Agenda 2063.
H.E Tshisekedi commended all those who were involved in the Zambian electoral process and saluted outgoing President Lungu for his leadership and for ensuring a peaceful transfer of power in the country. He assured H.E President Hichilema of the AU’s support in accordance with its mission and mandate.
The Chairperson of SADC and President of Malawi, H.E Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera, said the peaceful transfer of power in Zambia was an embodiment of “the Africa we want because this here is the Africa we know ourselves to be”.
He said the people of Zambia had distinguished themselves as a bastion of constitutionalism and the inauguration of President Hichilema was not just a ceremony or ritual, but history and the triumph of the best virtues of the African spirit.
President Chakwera said the world should no longer dare to define what Africa is lest they misrepresent it yet again by majoring on minors or advancing the usual Afro-pessimism that amplifies negatives read out of context.
He said the Zambian story is proof that Africa is not an infant to be babysat, but is proof that Africa is not a free-for-all to be scrambled for, hoodwinked and robbed by the mercenaries of Eastern and Western greed.
The Zambian story is proof that Africa is not a charity case to pitied and the world should not wonder what Africa is because Zambia has put the truest answer on display for all the world to see, said the SADC Chairperson.
The former President of Nigeria, Mr Olusegun Obasanjo, the British Minister of Africa, Mr James Duddridge, and the Commonwealth Secretary General, Ms Patricia Scotland also congratulated President Hichilema and the people of Zambia.