President Edgar Lungu has urged world leaders to redouble efforts to build a just, peaceful, prosperous, inclusive and fair world for the common good of humanity. Delivering Zambia’s statement to the Nelson Mandela Peace Summit during the 73rd United Nations (UN) General Assembly yesterday, President Lungu urged the international community to place human dignity at the centre of their actions. He commended the UN for designating the period 2019 to 2028 as the Nelson Mandela Decade of Peace, hoping that this will provide the global village an opportunity to advance human rights, freedom and peace for all.
“Today, I am pleased that we are able to honour the legacy of a great leader and son of Africa, whose contributions towards global peace have remained for the world to emulate. “The principles and values that Nelson Mandela and our founding fathers in Africa’s Frontline States stood for, those of sacrifice and struggle for human rights, mutual respect, tolerance and reconciliation in our relations, should remain the bedrock in our search for lasting peace,” Mr Lungu said.
President Lungu said in line with the Mandela legacy, the global community should continue placing love, peace and forgiveness at the core in its pursuit for sustained global peace. He said the fallen South African and global icon proved to the world that healing is possible and that reconciliation remains at the heart of human development.
This year’s general assembly high-level meetings of heads of State and Government have been preceded by the Nelson Mandela Peace Summit to honour the centenary of the birth of Mandela, who was born on July 18, 1918. This event has provided world leaders an opportunity to renew their commitment to global peace, conflict prevention and resolution.
One-by-one they spoke yesterday during the peace summit after opening remarks from UN Secretary General António Guterres, UN President María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés and former South African First Lady Graca Machel, who spoke on behalf of The Elders, an organisation founded by Mandela in 2007. The Nelson Mandela Peace Summit, which by press time was in progress, was expected to adopt a political declaration which will re-affirm the values of Mandela.
President Lungu told the General Assembly that the name of Mandela resonates with that of the fight for freedom not only in his native South Africa but in all corners of the world.
He also narrated how Zambia, in the quest for peace and dismantling apartheid in South Africa, became home to many of that country’s freedom fighters and was host to the African National Congress (ANC) and its headquarters in Lusaka from 1963 to 1994.
The President said as one of the Frontline States, Zambia actively contributed to ending apartheid and minority rule in South Africa, eventually leading to the release of Mr Mandela from prison.
President Lungu said weeks after his release from 27 years of imprisonment, Mr Mandela’s first visit outside South Africa was to Zambia.
This he said was in recognition of the efforts and great sacrifice Zambians played in upholding the valued principles of peace and freedom. Mr Lungu said today, Mandela’s legacy for world peace deserves the commendation of the entire global community.
And eulogising the fallen statesman, Mr Guterres said Mr Mandela devoted his life to serving his community – as a lawyer, prisoner of conscience, peacemaker, President and respected elder. He said Mr Mandela cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all people live together in equality and harmony. Ms Machel also eulogised him and urged the assembly of world leaders to use the peace summit to reflect on the ideals on which the UN was founded.
Meanwhile, Government has signed an agreement with Sustainable Development Goals Centre for Africa (SDGCA) for Zambia to host a regional sub-office in Lusaka. Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Malanji said Government is committed to achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through enhanced efforts.
The minister said this here on Sunday during the signing of an agreement between Government and SDGCA. “Zambia subscribes to global principles and ideals in the fight against poverty, which is the overarching goal of SDGs. There is need to enhance partnership with our cooperating partners to fully realise these goals,” Mr Malanji said.
He said Government has developed the Seventh National Development Plan, which is aligned to the SDGs, anchoring on poverty eradication. Zambia has been implementing several social protection programmes such as the social cash transfer scheme, women and youth empowerment, food security pack as well as the Farmer Input Support Programme.
Mr Malanji thanked SDGCA director general Belay Begashaw for ensuring effective implementation of the global development agenda in Africa.
And Dr Begashaw commended Government for playing a leading role in the sub-region in the implementation of SDGs.
Meanwhile, Mr Malanji said Zambia is proud to host the office on SDGs and will endeavour to use natural resources to the economic benefit of the country. He also said tourism is key in achieving some SDGs and that Zambia will harness the industry through sustainable marketing to attract tourists. And Dr Begashaw said Zambia’s quick response in agreeing to host the sub-regional office in Lusaka is a positive stride in achieving SDGs by 2030.
“Zambia has played a leading role in many spheres and we are pleased to host this sub-regional hub in just a space of four months. We are grateful to President Edgar Lungu for accepting this request,” he said. Dr Begashaw said Zambia will achieve more in implementing SDGs because Government has unprecedented commitment.