US hails Zambia as a model of peace, democracy in Africa
[wide][/wide]UNITED States Under-Secretary for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman has described Zambia as a model of peace and democracy in the region.
And Ms Sherman has reiterated her government’s commitment to contribute US$1.26 million to Zambia’s constitution-making process.
Speaking when she met Vice-President Guy Scott at Cabinet Office in Lusaka yesterday, Ms Sherman congratulated Zambia on the peaceful transition following the change of government in last September’s tripartite elections, which ushered in the Patriotic Front (PF) government.
“Zambia is a model of peace and democracy and we congratulate you on your recent peaceful transition of power,” she said.
Ms Sherman, the first high-ranking US official to visit the country after the PF took office, arrived in the country on Tuesday and described the relationship between Zambia and the Unites States of America as “incredible and wonderful”.
She is the third in hierarchy in the office of Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton.
Dr Scott said there is renewed confidence in the country following the PF victory in the last elections. He said Zambians are expecting better standards of leadership from the PF government, which include the creation of formal employment.
Dr Scott said the country is suffering from severe unemployment.
“People are expecting better standards, including having jobs, especially the ones that are producing commodities, the prices are high,” he said.
Dr Scott, however, said the PF was elected on the back of severe unemployment which is a major challenge. He said Zambia has always had a good relationship with the United States, dating back to the days of the non-aligned movement.
“The US was close and has always been close to us,” Dr Scott said.
Meanwhile, Ms Sherman said US$1.26 million will go towards strengthening good governance and supporting various institutions working toward constitutional reforms that include the Technical Committee, the National Assembly and civil society organisations.
“As a sign of our commitment to Zambia’s constitutional reform process, I am pleased to announce that the United States government plans to provide $1.26 million in assistance aimed at strengthening governance and supporting the various institutions working toward constitutional reform,” she said.
Ms Sherman said this when she addressed students at the University of Zambia Great East Road campus in Lusaka yesterday.
She was accompanied by US Ambassador to Zambia Mark Storella and University of Zambia vice-chancellor Stephen Simukanga.
Ms Sherman said with the award of the non-conditional grant to Zambia, the US seeks to support work on constitutional reforms, to find ways to bolster the capacity of civil society and public institutions and to further the goal of ensuring peace and prosperity for all Zambians.
“I congratulate each and every one of you for embarking on a constitutional reform process with the goal of strengthening democracy through a more even distribution of power,” Ms Sherman said.
She encouraged Government, the Technical Committee and the National Assembly to work closely with civil society throughout the process and educate Zambians about the implications of reform measures.
Ms Sherman said the three wings should interact substantively with all levels in coming up with a durable constitution which enjoys broad consensus.
She said the successful conclusion of the constitutional reform process will highlight the country’s commitment to democracy and inclusiveness.
“We are proud to be able to accompany you on this journey,” she said.
Ms Sherman told students that they have the potential and responsibility to build the momentum needed to create a stronger Zambia with greater opportunity for its young people.
“Your youthful energy, your ideas, and your creativity are needed to find new solutions to old problems. With today’s technology and global connections, you are empowered with access to information and resources unlike any generation before you,” Ms Sherman said.
Ms Sherman said Zambia’s relationship with the US government is among the most fruitful on the continent.
She said the relation between the two countries has been strong and uninterrupted since Zambia’s independence in 1964.
“For 47 years, the United States has partnered with Zambia to build a more prosperous nation, which is able to sustain the health and education of its people, govern by democratic principles and create jobs that grow its economy,” she said.
Ms Sherman said in 2011, the US invested more than US$375 million in the education, health and agricultural sectors to strengthen institutions.
She said the US and the international community is grateful to Zambia for hosting thousands of refugees who have come in the country looking for safety.
Ms Sherman said Zambia is situated in a tough region which has seen decades of instability in neighbouring countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, Zimbabwe and Angola.
“We recognise the burden this has placed on you here in Zambia. You have been a reliable and hospitable host to refugees for decades – you are a model for others in the region,” she said.
Ms Sherman said the US government will continue to work with Zambia to ensure durable solutions for refugees./Daily Mail
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