Zambia is set to celebrate its golden anniversary on Friday. The Southern African country gained independence from former colonial power Great Britain, on October 24, 1960. Officials say several heads of state and government have confirmed their participation in the celebrations.
Vice President Guy Scott said with its peace, political stability and economic performance over the years, Zambia has been the best kept secret for both local and foreign investors.
“People are very ready to celebrate. People like to be very proud of themselves, and surviving 50 years of quite a lot of instability in this region, without suffering much instability ourselves, and making tremendous progress in social equality and economic growth…. It hasn’t been an easy ride all the way, but most people are aware that Zambia has gone forward and is still going forward,” said Scott.
The celebrations, however, will proceed without President Michael Sata who is out of the country seeking medical attention for an unnamed ailment.
Local media quoted President Sata’s speech on the eve of the celebration read on his behalf by acting president Edgar Lungu, as saying “the primary task for Zambia and the future generation is the modernization and transformation of the country through sustained rapid economic growth…Zambia had a duty to uphold democracy through good governance, transparency, accountability and observance of human rights.”
Mr. Scott said it is regrettable that the head of state will miss the celebrations, but added that the government has implemented measures to ensure things run smoothly while he is away.
“It’s very sad …He is the best loved politician in Zambia. It’s a shame that he should be somewhere else when we are celebrating. He wouldn’t want us to do anything else,” Scott said. “Between acting president, vice president, former presidents and so forth, we can put on a pretty cool ceremony, and that’s what we will do.”
Critics say post-independence leaders and the current government have failed to unify citizens or present a clear vision to lead, and transform, the country.
Vice President Scott disagrees, accusing critics of playing politics. He said they have failed to acknowledge the significant strides the country has made over the past half century.
“Lots of people are ready to gripe and be very negative about what’s been done. There is no paradise on earth, but we’ve done a very commendable job,” said Scott. “Zambia is one of the best kept secrets anywhere in terms of its peacefulness and receptiveness to investment, investment confidence and so forth. It’s politics. You don’t expect the opposition to say ‘yes the government is doing a great job.’ ”