Mr. Ban Ki-moon was welcomed at Kenneth Kaunda International Airport yesterday by the Republican Vice President, Dr. Guy Scott, other senior Government officials including Foreign Minister Given Lubinda, MP, the UN Resident Coordinator, Kanni Wignaraja and other dignitaries. The visit marks the first time a UN Secretary-General has made an official visit to the Southern African nation, which recently held highly lauded elections that concluded with a peaceful and orderly transfer of power to long-time opposition leader, His Excellency President Michael Sata. The Secretary-General held high level talks with President Sata today, as well as courtesy call with Zambia’s First Republican President, His Excellency Dr. Kenneth David Kaunda.
The Secretary-General was honoured with an invitation to address the National Assembly, which he delivered to a full legislative chamber less than an hour after arriving in the country. In his well-received speech, Mr. Ban applauded the Zambian Government and people for their dedication to democracy. He said the smooth and dignified transition of power during the September 2011 presidential and general elections “deepened democracy and set a high bar for the continent, and indeed the world.”
The Secretary-General commended the strides that Zambia had made in achieving pillars of the Millennium Development Goals in education and reducing the country’s HIV prevelancy rate. Mr. Ban commended Zambia’s fight against corruption, pledging the support of the United Nation in this national priority.
“Corruption is a cancer. Unchecked, it strikes at the very heart of democracy – and the very ability to deliver to those in need. In this fight, there can be no sacred cows. There can be no parallel systems of justice – one for the poor and weak, another for the powerful and protected,” said the Secretary-General.
He further expressed hope that the on-going constitutional review process will result in a constitution that upholds the highest standards of human rights and protection of freedoms regardless of race, religion or sexual orientation. Mr. Ban urged that similar efforts were needed to address challenges such as climate change and gender-based violence and gender inequality. He praised the efforts of Zambia’s parliament for passing a sweeping Gender Based Violence Act last year and President Sata for recently appointing the country’s first female Inspector General of Police, Stella Libongani.
Mr. Ban bemoaned the low state of women’s representation in parliament, stating that Zambia lagged behind some of its bordering countries. “Today in Zambia, women’s representation in parliament stands at 11%, an all time low. Many of your neighbours are setting the trend not only for the continent, but the world.”
The Secretary-General argued for the integration of women and youth in national development stating that Zambia’s potential will only be realised when its women and youth can realize theirs.
Mr. Ban received thunderous cheers from lawmakers when he opened his remarks by congratulating the national men’s football team, the Chipolopolo (Copper Bullets) Boys, for their upset victory in this month’s African Cup of Nations.
“I have come bearing a two-word message to Zambia from the world: Congratulations, Chipolopolo! What a victory! Africa and the world saw more than the success of a football team. We saw the spirit of Zambia in Africa Cup of Nations football win. All who believe in miracles; all who root for unsung heroes; all who honour those who came before, we know -- Zambia’s victory was indeed written in the sky. I believe our partnership is made of that same great spirit.
“It started from day one. The United Nations and Zambia share the same founding day – October 24,” said the Secretary-General.
In his meeting with Dr. Kaunda this morning, Zambia’s founding father praised the Secretary-General’s address to parliament as “formidable” and in an editorial The Times of Zambia called the oration “inspiring.”
During his three-day visit, Mr. Ban will also visit the Olympic Youth Centre Development Centre and the NGO Fountain of Hope with International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge and the Victoria Falls National Park in Livingstone, a World Heritage Site.
For further information, please contact Patrick Slavin, Chair, United Nations Communications Group, +260/211.374200 x2020,