President Banda’s New Year message in full

GOOD EVENING, FELLOW ZAMBIANS.

TONIGHT WE BID FAREWELL TO THE YEAR 2009 AND WELCOME THE YEAR 2010. LET ME INVITE YOU ALL TO JOIN ME IN THANKING OUR GOD ALMIGHTY FOR HIS GUIDANCE AND FOR THE ACHIEVEMENTS WE HAVE SCORED AS A NATION. AS A PEOPLE, WE HAVE BEEN THROUGH QUITE A LOT — MOMENTS OF JOY, OF SADNESS, AND OF REAL ACHIEVEMENT — MOMENTS THAT I BELIEVE HAVE BROUGHT US ALL CLOSER TOGETHER.

I KNOW THAT, TONIGHT, IN MILLIONS OF ZAMBIAN HOMES, PEOPLE ARE PREPARING FOR THE NEW YEAR WITH CELEBRATIONS. BUT EVEN AS WE REJOICE, LET US REMEMBER THAT FOR SOME ZAMBIANS, THIS WILL NOT BE AS HAPPY A FESTIVE SEASON AS IT SHOULD BE. SOME PEOPLE ARE LOOKING AFTER THE SICK, OTHERS HAVE LOST THEIR BELOVED ONES, AND SO ON. LET US REMEMBER ALL THESE PEOPLE IN OUR PRAYERS.

COUNTRY MEN, WOMEN AND YOUTH,

AT THIS SPECIAL TIME OF THE YEAR, WE ALL RENEW OUR SENSE OF HOPE FOR THE FUTURE. THIS IS THE TIME WHEN WE NEED TO REFLECT ON MAJOR NATIONAL ISSUES AS WE PREPARE TO FACE THE NEXT TWELVE MONTHS AND HOPE TO ACHIEVE EVEN BETTER RESULTS IN ALL OUR ENDEAVOURS.

OVER THE PAST YEAR, WE BEGAN THE LONG, HARD WORK OF MITIGATING THE NEGATIVE EFFECTS OF THE GLOBAL ECONOMIC CRISIS. OUR PROGRAMME FOR MITIGATING THE NEGATIVE EFFECTS OF THE GLOBAL CRISIS HAS WORKED REMARKABLY WELL. ALREADY, WE ARE WINNING THE BATTLE AGAINST THE ECONOMIC RECESSION AND AGAINST INFLATION, AND THAT VICTORY WILL MEAN MORE GROWTH IN THE ECONOMY, MORE JOBS, AND MORE OPPORTUNITY FOR ALL ZAMBIANS.
A FEW MONTHS BEFORE YOU VOTED ME INTO OFFICE IN NOVEMBER LAST YEAR, THIS COUNTRY WAS FACING ECONOMIC PROBLEMS AND AN UNCERTAIN FUTURE OCCASIONED BY THE GLOBAL ECONOMIC CRISIS. THE CRISIS HAD RESULTED IN, AMONG OTHERS, THE CLOSURE OF SOME MINES, THE SCALING BACK OF OPERATIONS AND INVESTMENTS AND JOB LOSSES IN THE MINING SECTOR.

FELLOW CITIZENS,

OUR BELOVED COUNTRY HAS COME OUT OF THIS CRISIS RELATIVELY UNSCATHED DUE TO MY GOVERNMENT’S PRUDENT ECONOMIC MANAGEMENT. A RECENT INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND ASSESSMENT CONFIRMS THIS. ALL ZAMBIANS, REGARDLESS OF POLITICAL AFFILIATION, MUST BE PROUD OF THIS ACHIEVEMENT.

I AM, THEREFORE, HAPPY TO INFORM THE NATION THAT THIS YEAR WE EXPECT A GROWTH RATE OF 6.3 PER CENT IN OUR ECONOMY. THIS WILL BE ONE OF THE HIGHEST GROWTH RATES IN THE HISTORY OF THIS COUNTRY SINCE INDEPENDENCE. NEXT YEAR, WE EXPECT EVEN STRONGER GROWTH IN THE ECONOMY. THIS WILL MEAN MORE BUSINESSES STARTED, MORE INVESTMENTS MADE, MORE JOBS CREATED, AND MORE PEOPLE ON PAYROLLS. IN TURN, THIS WILL CREATE A STRONG REVENUE BASE FOR THE GOVERNMENT TO INCREASE AND SUSTAIN THE PROVISION OF SERVICES TO ZAMBIANS.

THE PRICE STABILITY THAT WE HAVE CONTINUED TO ENJOY IN FORM OF A DECLINING INFLATION RATE AND A STABLE EXCHANGE RATE MEANS THAT THE HARD-EARNED INCOMES AND EARNINGS OF OUR PEOPLE WILL CONTINUE TO HAVE VALUE. IN THIS REGARD, I WOULD LIKE TO THANK ALL OF YOU FOR YOUR DEMONSTRATED UNITY OF PURPOSE THAT ALLOWED THIS NATION TO ADDRESS THE NEGATIVE EFFECTS OF THE GLOBAL ECONOMIC CRISIS.

COUNTRYMEN, WOMEN AND YOUTH,

THE MAJOR FOCUS OF MY GOVERNMENT IS TO PROMOTE EMPLOYMENT AND WEALTH CREATION THROUGH SUSTAINED GROWTH AND ECONOMIC DIVERSIFICATION. MY GOVERNMENT HAS CONTINUED TO UNDERTAKE REFORMS AIMED AT IMPROVING THE COMPETITIVENESS OF OUR ECONOMY THROUGH, AMONG OTHERS, SIMPLIFYING THE BUSINESS REGULATORY FRAMEWORK AND INFRASTRUCTURE DEVELOPMENT.

OUR MAJOR FOCUS AREA IS AGRICULTURE. TOURISM IS ANOTHER KEY FOCUS AREA. IN THIS RESPECT, I URGE OUR TOUR OPERATORS TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE 2010 FIFA WORLD CUP TO BE HELD IN SOUTH AFRICA TO INTENSIFY THE MARKETING OF ZAMBIA’S TOURISM PRODUCTS IN ORDER TO INCREASE TOURIST ARRIVALS IN OUR COUNTRY.

WE HAVE ALSO INITIATED THE PROCESS OF TRANSFORMING THE TELECOMMUNICATIONS SECTOR WITH A VIEW TO IMPROVING SERVICE DELIVERY AND REDUCING COMMUNICATION COSTS IN THE COUNTRY. IN ADDITION, THE MEMORANDA OF UNDERSTANDING FOR MAJOR INVESTMENT AND DEVELOPMENT ACTIVITY SIGNED WITH MALAYSIA, SOUTH AFRICA AND OTHER COUNTRIES ARE A PROMISE OF BETTER THINGS TO COME NEXT YEAR AND BEYOND.
AND FOR THE FIRST TIME IN THE HISTORY OF THIS COUNTRY, MY GOVERNMENT HAS CHANGED THE BUDGET CYCLE TO ENSURE THAT DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS ARE IMPLEMENTED WITHIN A PERIOD OF TWELVE MONTHS AS OPPOSED TO NINE MONTHS.
FELLOW ZAMBIANS,

DESPITE OUR STRIDES IN MAINTAINING PRUDENT ECONOMIC MANAGEMENT, WE STILL HAVE A CHALLENGE TO ENSURE THAT THE CURRENT GROWTH IS BROAD-BASED AND TRANSLATES INTO SIGNIFICANT IMPROVEMENT IN THE LIVING STANDARDS OF OUR PEOPLE.

IN 2010, GOVERNMENT WILL CONTINUE TO DIRECT RESOURCES TOWARDS PRIORITY PROGRAMMES THAT HAVE A DIRECT IMPACT ON SERVICE DELIVERY, ESPECIALLY IN EDUCATION AND HEALTH. IN THE CASE OF HEALTH, I AM HAPPY TO INFORM YOU THAT, FOLLOWING AN AGREEMENT SIGNED BETWEEN MY GOVERNMENT AND COOPERATING PARTNERS, FUNDS HAVE STARTED FLOWING TO THE HEALTH SECTOR.

MY GOVERNMENT HAS NOT FORGOTTEN PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES. I AM HAPPY TO INFORM THE NATION THAT GOVERNMENT HAS NOW RATIFIED THE UNITED NATIONS CONVENTION ON THE RIGHTS OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES. ONCE THIS TREATY IS DOMESTICATED, IT WILL BE MUCH EASIER FOR MY GOVERNMENT TO PROTECT PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES.

TO ENCOURAGE OPPORTUNITY AND JOB CREATION RATHER THAN DEPENDENCY AND WELFARE, WE HAVE SUCCESSFULLY IDENTIFIED SIX AREAS ACROSS THE COUNTRY FOR MULTI-FACILITY ECONOMIC ZONES. I EXPECT ZAMBIANS TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THESE ZONES TO PARTNER WITH FELLOW ZAMBIANS AND FOREIGN INVESTORS TO CREATE A STRONG PRODUCTIVE BASE TO FOSTER JOB CREATION AND ECONOMIC DIVERSIFICATION.

COUNTRYMEN, WOMEN AND YOUTHS,

BESIDES WORKING TO EMPOWER OUR WOMEN, WE WILL ALSO HELP OUR YOUNG PEOPLE, WHO HAVE THE HIGHEST UNEMPLOYMENT RATE, FIND JOBS THROUGH SKILLS TRAINING AND ENTREPRENEURSHIP, SO THAT THEY CAN KNOW THE PRIDE OF WORK AND HAVE CONFIDENCE IN THEIR FUTURE.

FELLOW COUNTRYMEN, WOMEN AND YOUTH,

MY GOVERNMENT HAS ALSO INTENSIFIED THE FIGHT AGAINST CORRUPTION. FOR THE FIRST TIME IN THE HISTORY OF THIS COUNTRY, WE NOW HAVE AN ELABORATE ANTI-CORRUPTION INSTITUTIONAL FRAMEWORK IN PLACE. I, THEREFORE, CHALLENGE EVERY ZAMBIAN TO WORK WITH MY GOVERNMENT IN IMPLEMENTING THE ANTI-CORRUPTION POLICY.

FELLOW CITIZENS,
AS I SPEAK TO YOU TONIGHT, WE STAND ON THE THRESHOLD OF A GREAT ABILITY TO PRODUCE MORE AND DO MORE AS A COUNTRY. OUR ECONOMY IS NOW WELL-POSITIONED TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE GLOBAL ECONOMIC RECOVERY TO ACHIEVE HIGHER RATES OF GROWTH AND GENERATE MORE JOBS AND WEALTH.

AS WE ENTER THE YEAR 2010, I CHALLENGE EVERY ZAMBIAN, MALE, FEMALE, YOUTH, TO RE-DEDICATE THEMSELVES TO HARD WORK AND DISCIPLINE. HARD WORK AND DISCIPLINE ARE THE KEY TO A PROSPEROUS FUTURE FOR ZAMBIA.

COUNTRYMEN, WOMEN AND YOUTH,

LET ME COMMEND ALL OF YOU FOR YOUR VALUABLE CONTRIBUTION TO OUR UNITY, PEACE AND STABILITY. TOGETHER WE HAVE LIVED IN HARMONY DESPITE DIFFERENCES IN OUR POLITICAL VIEWS. AS WE BEGIN THE YEAR 2010, LET US MAINTAIN THIS UNITY BY DELIBERATELY USING OUR DIVERSITY OF OPINION TO ENRICH THE QUALITY OF OUR THINKING AND ACTIONS. IN THIS REGARD, I EXPECT THE MEDIA – BOTH PUBLIC AND PRIVATE – TO UPHOLD OUR PEACE AND UNITY.

MAY I ALSO COMMEND OUR COOPERATING PARTNERS FOR THEIR CONTINUED SUPPORT TO OUR COUNTRY AND, IN PARTICULAR, FOR DISBURSING THEIR COMMITMENTS FOR 2009. OVER THE LAST FEW MONTHS, DONORS HAVE POSITIVELY RESPONDED TO THE MEASURES PUT IN PLACE BY MY GOVERNMENT TO IMPROVE FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT IN THE PUBLIC SECTOR. ALMOST ALL THE DONORS WHO HAD DELAYED THEIR FUNDING DURING THE FIRST HALF OF 2009 HAVE DISBURSED THEIR COMITTMENT OR INDICATED THEIR WILLINGNESS TO DO SO.

SO, IN A SPIRIT OF GRATITUDE FOR WHAT WE HAVE BEEN ABLE TO ACHIEVE TOGETHER OVER THE PAST YEAR AND LOOKING FORWARD TO ALL THAT WE HOPE TO ACHIEVE TOGETHER IN THE YEAR AHEAD, THE FIRST LADY AND I WANT TO WISH YOU ALL THE BEST OF THE YEAR 2010.
GOD BLESS YOU ALL.
GOOD NIGHT.

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