World leaders congratulate Zambia on its 53rd independence anniversary

By Jeff Kapembwa

Lusaka – World leaders have congratulated President Edgar Lungu and the people of Zambia on the country’s 53rd Independence anniversary on October 24.

The copper rich southern African nation celebrated the national day amid threats of a cholera outbreak that has hit several parts of the country affecting over 112 people.

President Ian Khama of Botswana joined his Zambian counterpart in Lusaka to mark the day.

In his address, President Lungu hailed Botswana for being a true friend whose relationship has been enjoyed over the years.

He commended former leaders Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia and Sir Seretse Khama of Botswana for their stewardship of the struggle against colonial rule in the Southern African region.

Against this background, Botswana and Zambia formed a fulcrum of the Frontline States, the forerunner of the now regional bloc,  SADC.  “It is no wonder that our two countries enjoy the well-deserved accolade of being beacons of peace and stability on the African continent,” President Lungu said.

Zambia and the rest of SADC recognised Botswana’s gesture to provide a home for the regional bloc’s head office, he said. President Lungu further commended Botswana for its support to Zambia during the current tenure as chair of the United Nations Group of Landlocked Developing Countries.

He, however, noted that when all is said and done, the friendship between the two countries would further be strengthened if the ultra-modern Kazungula Bridge over the Zambezi River is completed. On his part, President Khama commended Lungu and the people of Zambia on the 53rd independence anniversary and hailed the two countries for their good neighbourliness.

Khama noted that his invitation by Lungu to grace the occasion was a demonstration “that our relations have stood the test of time and was hopeful the friendship of the two countries would flourish for many years to come”.

Meanwhile, the Botswana leader pledged not to alter the constitution for him to retain power and said that his visit to Zambia marked the last of his tenure in office, which expires in the next five months.

“I have no intention of amending my country’s constitution so that I can prolong my term in office. As most of you are aware, this is going to be possibly the last opportunity for me to be able to share a moment like this with you because my own term will be concluding in about five months’ time,” he said.

He commended Zambia’s founding President Kenneth Kaunda for his role in the liberation of Southern Africa and the relations the founding leader shared with his late father, Seretse Khama, noting that the duo had come a long way.

“Botswana and Zambia have come a very long way and I am delighted to be here and very honoured to be in the presence of the first president, His Excellency Dr Kenneth Kaunda.

“As you correctly said, he and my father were not only heads of states of neighbouring states, but they also became very good friends. I remember they had nicknames for each other. President Kaunda referred to my father as ‘the Primitive Man’.

“And I will not reveal what my father may have called President Kaunda, being an elder. I respect him too much to say that but it was a sense of very deep relations which I am so delighted have gone on for so many years and to be standing here as the President of Botswana, ” Khama said. As part of the celebration, the two leaders led a delegation of diplomats and service chiefs in laying wreaths at the Freedom Statue in Lusaka in honour of fallen independence heroes.

Among the key leaders that wished Zambia well include the United States of America President Donald Trump who expressed his desire to deepen strong partnership with Zambia in the years ahead.

Ethiopia’s President Mulatu Teshome said the close friendly relations existing between Zambia and his country would continue to be strengthened and developed for the mutual interest of the peoples of the two countries.

South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma, who was in Zambia for a state visit recently, said his country desired to strengthen the excellent bonds of friendship that existed between them.

Germany President Frank-Walter Steinmeier has also commended Zambia and said in it’s more than five decades of self-rule, Zambia had established impressive traditions of democracy and the rule of law.

The Germany leader said there was a need to maintain the tenets through political and social dialogue conducted in a respectful manner, and assured his desire to stand by Zambia in overcoming challenges.

India’s President Ram Nath Kovind said the partnership with Zambia was anchored on shared values and perspectives. Kovind said his country looked forward to further strengthening the existing warm bonds of friendship with Zambia to ensure greater prosperity of the peoples of the two countries.

Other worldly leaders to wish Zambians good health are Miloš Zeman of Czech Republic; Sir Peter Cosgrove, the Governor-General of Australia, the Emperor Akihito of Japan as well as King Mohammed of Morocco.

Cuban President Raúl Castro and Palestine President Mahmoud Abbas also joined in the chorus, urging Zambia to maintain its peaceful political landscape.

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