UNITED States of America (USA) President Barack Obama has praised Zambia for her continued efforts to maintain peace and stability in the African sub-region.
Mr Obama said Zambia’s peaceful transition to self-governance and its commitment to maintaining peace for almost half a century will remain steadfast and that it is a positive example to neighbouring countries.
He said this at the White House when newly appointed Zambia’s ambassador to the USA Sheila Siwela presented her credential.
This is according to a statement released in Lusaka yesterday by first secretary at the Zambian mission in USA, Ben Kangwa.
Mr Obama said US recognises the growing role Zambia continues to play in regional security issues and in particular as part of the Troika leading the Southern African Development Community (SADC) on politics, defence and security co-operation.
He assured the Zambian government of his country’s continuous co-operation to advance a common agenda to strengthen the partnership between the two countries.
Mr Obama said Zambia and the USA have enjoyed a long-lasting relationship which dates back to 1964.
He also said the two countries have shared a vision of peace and stability in southern Africa.
Mr Obama said collaborative efforts in fighting HIV/AIDS in Zambia through the US President’s Emergency Fund for Aids Relief (PEPFAR) has contributed to putting over 229,000 Zambians on anti-retroviral treatment.
He said the fund has also assisted to reach 73 percent of pregnant women with HIV/AIDS counselling and testing services and served over 443,000 orphans and vulnerable children in 2009.
And Mrs Siwela conveyed President Banda’s gratitude for the USA’s continued assistance to Zambia.
She said the collaborative efforts have culminated in Zambia being a beneficiary of the USA Millennium Challenge Account (MCA), the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) and the PRPFAR of which Zambia is one of the lowest developed countries (LCD) beneficiaries.
She said under the MCA threshold programme in 2006, Zambia received US$22.7 million meant to reduce corruption, improve government effectiveness and to facilitate the country’s eligibility for the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), which manages MCA.
Mrs Siwela said it is for this reason that the Zambian government remains steadfast to fighting corruption in all its manifestations and to uphold the rule of law.
“To this effect, Zambia is looking forward to free and fair presidential and parliamentary elections in 2011,” she said.
Mrs Siwela said the MCC assistance has facilitated trade and investment in Zambia by streamlining processes in institutions such as the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), Zambia Revenue Authority, Chirundu border post, Immigration Department and the Ministry of Land.
On the AGOA, Mrs Siwela said because of the great importance Zambia attaches to it, Government has indicated willingness and readiness to host its 2011 forum in Lusaka.
“It is, therefore, important for the US government to be represented at the highest level possible. Zambia will be represented at the forthcoming AGOA forum to be held in Washington DC and Kansas City from August 2-6 at ministerial level,” she said.
On support to health care in Zambia, Mrs Siwela expressed gratitude to the US government for the US$90 million package announced on June 25, 2010, whose focus is on training and capacity building.
She hoped that this assistance would contribute to the improved and better health to millions of Zambians.
Mrs Siwela commended USA for the US$15 billion PEPFAR funding in more than 120 countries for combating HIV/AIDS.
She said of the amount, Zambia has received more than US$1.2 billion since 2004.
Mrs Siwela said significant progress was achieved in 2009 with 229,200 individuals receiving ARVs.