Thursday, March 22, 2007

Levy Mwanawasa - Dinner Speech

The exceptionally kind hospitality. that Your Excellency, the people and Government of Namibia have accorded to me and my Delegation upon arrival in this beautiful city of Windhoek today has touched my heart. It is a confirmation that we are truly at home among our brothers and sisters. Please accept,. therefore, the expression of my profound gratitude to you, the First Lady, the Government and the people of Namibia.

Your Excellency, Our acceptance of your thoughtful invitation to join in the celebration of your independence day clearly reflects the importance that I, the Government and people of Zambia attach to the excellent relations, which happily exist between our two sister countries. Zambia cherishes these relations, which are deeply rooted in our shared history, similar cultural and social values as well as common aspirations and destiny. Moreover, Zambia treasures the good neighbourliness, the sincerity and candid pursuit of mutual benefit, which characterize the relations existing between our two countries.

Your Excellency, These relations would not have been possible without the peace and stability prevailing not only within the territories of our two sister republics but also in the southern African region as a whole. Peaceful and stable conditions are some of the key ingredients, which would pave the way for the stimulation of our bilateral cooperation in the fields of agriculture and fisheries, education and professional training, energy, mining and road transport, to mention but a few. Above all, our bilateral relations and cooperation are made possible thanks to the hard work of the human resources and the focused leaderships of both our countries.

Your Excellency, Zambia admires the economic growth that Namibia has achieved as a result of the good economic policies that His Excellency Dr Sam Nujoma and his Government formulated soon after your country gained independence and that he vigorously carried out during his three terms of office. I have no doubt that you too are implementing similar policies designed, on one hand, to reduce poverty and, on the other hand, to improve further the living standards of our Namibian brothers and sisters.

While prosperity is one side of the coin, adversity and challenges form the other side of the same coin. I believe that poverty, lack of access to clean water and sanitation, and the scarcity of arable land for the majority of Namibians are some of the huge challenges with which your Government must be grappling.

The most unappealing of all the challenges, in my opinion, is corruption. It robs the ordinary men and women of critical resources for national development, which end up in the hands of few individuals or syndicates. Corruption further erodes foreign investors' confidence and dissuades others from injecting valuable resources in a given country's economy apart from distorting the cost of doing business. Above all, corruption tramples upon democracy and good governance. For this catalogue of evil consequences, corruption must be fought with tenacity while those who commit it must be exposed regardless of their stations in society.

Your Excellency, I am delighted to note that you and your Government have also declared a merciless war against corruption in Namibia and are squarely addressing the other challenges. I hasten to assure you and your government team that, with determination, resourcefulness and methodology by all the Namibian people, coupled with support from and cooperation with friendly nations, you and your Government are bound to succeed in overcoming these challenges. In its pursuit of these noble objectives, the Namibian nation should always remember that Zambia shall always stand by its side.

Your Excellency,
The relations between our two countries assume another dimension and a new meaning with our integration into the framework of the Southern African Development Community (SADC). Within SADC our countries have collaborated closely, together with other member States, to mobilize resources from the international community, which have enabled us to develop transport, energy and other infrastructures. External resources equally assisted the Region in working towards convergence in the finance sector and to cooperate in many other sectors such as agriculture, health, human resources development, tourism, mining, politics, defence and security.

Thanks to the combined efforts by member States,. the SADC region has enjoyed the most peaceful and stable conditions on the African continent. Similarly, it has been credited with the most democratic and transparent elections in the last few years following the adoption of the SADC Principles and Guidelines governing Elections. The recent elections held in Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Zambia, Madagascar and Lesotho have all attested to the credibility of these principles. The SADC region has further distinguished itself by adopting common positions and spoken with one strong voice on a number of continental and international issues. The mention of some of the successes accomplished leads me to declare that all the achievements recorded can be attributed to the SADC people's and leaders' realisation that our future lies in a common destiny.

Your Excellency, If truly all SADC member States have a common destiny, they must all surely rise and lend a helping hand when one of them should run into serious difficulties. As I am speaking right now, one SADC country has sunk into such economic difficulties that it may be likened to a sinking Titanic whose passengers are jumping out in a bid to save their lives. The nationals of the said country are abandoning it in hundreds on a daily basis and crossing its borders in search of any means of survival in all the neighbouring States or beyond.

Zambia has so far been an advocate of quiet diplomacy and continues believe in it. But the twist of events in the troubled country necessitates the adoption of a new approach. In this regard, Zambia is inclined, in conjunction with other neighours or other willing SADC countries alone, to explore the possibility of engaging our brothers and sisters in the leadership of this distressed country in a more supportive manner. Lest I am misunderstood, I wish to state categorically that the Zambian Government excludes the direct or indirect involvement of any foreign State, which is not a SADC member, in its quest to dialogue with its counterpart in the troubled country.

Zambia is convinced that time has come for a fresh start in our relations with our common neighbour. Your Excellency, Both our countries envisage an African continent free from poverty, devastating pandemics, economic depression, oppression and armed conflict. However, Zambia is saddened to observe that our beloved continent has never enjoyed total peace and stability at anyone time. It is ever afflicted by one conflict or another. Today, varying conflict situations are prevailing in Chad, Central African Republic, Cote d'ivoire, the Darfur region of the Sudan and Somalia. We are equally appalled by the large-scale degradation of the environment, plunder of natural resources, abuse of human rights, suffering and displacement of civilian populations which arise from these conflicts.

Zambia and Namibia ought to continue joining continental and international initiatives aimed at restoring peace and stability in trouble-torn African countries. In this respect, I commend Your Excellency and your Government for the invaluable military assistance that your country, Angola and Zimbabwe extended to the DRC Government during the 1998 to 2003 war of aggression. On' this auspicious occasion, allow me to salute the bravery of all the gallant men who sacrificed their own lives to save those of our dear Congolese brothers and sisters.

Despite its never~ending and vexing conflicts, our African continent is advancing on its way to unity and prosperity. It is slowly consolidating peace, security and stability as well as harnessing its economic gains in its quest for sustainable development. To this end, the efforts by the African Union and the international community to end conflicts together with the attendant impunity and violations of human rights on our continent must be applauded. Your Excellency, In international affairs, the commonality of our two countries' interests finds its concrete expression in' our membership to the same organisations such as the Commonwealth, the Non-Aligned Movement, the Group of 77 and the United Nations.

In this context, it is not by mere coincidence that Zambia and Namibia are members of the African Union Committee of Ten (C-10) Heads of State and Government on the UN Reforms. Very often, our two countries speak with one voice on matters of mutual interest to the SADC
sub-region, the African International Community.

On conflicts in the Middle East, Zambia has stood by the side of Palestine and its people who seek to regain their occupied territories and live in peaceful co-existence with their neighbour.
At the same time, we recognise the right of Israel to exist. That is the reason why we are convinced beyond reasonable doubt that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict must be resolved through a negotiated settlement. To this effect, we continue to call upon the protagonists to engage in genuine dialogue with a view of finding a lasting solution.

The conflict in Iraq was premised on the wrong assumption of the presence of weapons of mass destruction. It has along the way taken an unpleasant and unpredictable turn for which the US Government and its western allies are responsible. The latter must now quickly find an appropriate solution to the Iraq conflict. The same Western States, which have greatly benefited from the current economic order, must demonstrate their magnanimity to take on board development issues in the Doha round of trade negotiations. Moreover, they must consider elimin'ating their subsidies to agricultural products and opening up their markets to agricultural produce from the African continent. It is a matter of equity and moral obligations on their part to level the playing field if our continent should gain from the "aid for trade" policy that they have adopted.

Your Excellency, the outlook of the international situation is unpredictable to the extent that it compels the developing countries to deepen further our cooperation with the ultimate view of realising political and economic integration. We are bound. to accelerate integration at sub-regional and regional levels if we can do our utmost to strengthen our bilateral relations through the implementation of various programmes and projects. In this regard, I commend our experts from Zambia and Namibia for conducting negotiations on various memoranda of understanding and agreements in the fields of education, taxation, air, road and water transport. I would also like to urge them to expedite the conclusion of their negotiations in those sectors where mutual agreement has not yet been achieved.

Your Excellency, Allow me to seize this opportunity to re-assure you of my Government's commitment to further expansion of the bilateral relations and cooperation between Zambia and Namibia for the mutual benefit of our peoples.

In the brotherly spirit of the Zambia-Namibia relations, I now have the singular pleasure to invite you all to join me as I propose a toast to:
The continued personal good health of your Excellency Mr. Hifikepunye Pohamba, President of the Republic of Namibia, and the First Lady, Mrs Pohamba; The continued friendship and cooperation between the Republic of Zambia and the Republic of Namibia; and the peace, happiness and prosperity for the people of Namibia.

I thank you.

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