Along with the Country Director of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Zambia, James Wakiaga, and the IDEA International Regional Director for Africa and West Asia, Dr Sharamo Roba, the former President of Sierra Leone, His Excellency Ernest Bai Koroma paid a courtesy call on the vice president of the Republic of Zambia, Ms Mutale Nalumango at her offices at the Cabinet Complex in Lusaka.
The Sierra Leonean statesman is in the country on the invitation of IDEA International and the UNDP to, as an Elder African statesman, share his rich experience, on peace and democratic consolidation at a High Level event marking the International Day of Democracy.
The Vice President expressed profound delight for the visit by her esteemed guest. Referring to the Sierra Leonean statesman, Ms Nalumango, who was acting as President at the time of the visit, said it was an honour for her to receive President Koroma on behalf of President Hakainde Hichilema who’s away on an international trip.
“It is an honour, Mr. President, to receive you in my office, on behalf of your brother President Hichelema. You led your country well, ensured stability, peace, and economic growth. You left the scene graciously. We are proud of you and the example you have set for us,” the Acting Vice President said.
The Vice President went to recall the several honours President Koroma had received, including from the United Nations Secretary- General relating to his post conflict peacebuilding and reconstruction of Sierra Leone She also mentioned the fact that the President Hichilema led government had accorded President Koroma with Zambia’s highest national honour, the Order of the Eagle of Zambia 1st Division.
“No wonder that you have been honoured all around, including by the United Nations and the Government of Zambia, Acting President Nalumango stated.
She further extolled President Koroma’s democratic credentials, saying that he’s a man for Africa who should be going round as he’s doing to share his rich experience with other governments and institutions supporting democratic good governance.
“President Hichilema is trying to follow your footsteps to govern democratically. He’s trying to walk the talk of democracy. Although it is not easy to govern democratically, we are trying our best,” said Ms Nalumango.
The acting Vice President expressed concern over the democratic setbacks in Africa, particularly lamenting the resurgence of military coups, which she deemed a shame. She also highlighted the issue of constitutional coups, emphasizing that they manifest in the arbitrary manipulations made to constitutions.
She challenged the UNDP and IDEA International to ensure that this conference does not become another ‘Talk Shop’
Ms. Nalumango beseeched President Koroma to continue his support for the improvement of democractic good governance. She said it was important for the current crop of leaders to leave a legacy of good governance, peace, and stability in Africa.
‘Thank you for this very warm welcome to me and my delegation- UNDP and IDEA. I feel at home coming to Zambia more so that I’ve been accorded the highest honour,” said former President Koroma, in responding to his host.
Through the Acting President, President Koroma also extended his profound appreciation to his friend and brother, President Hakainde Hichilema, his government and people of Zambia for the hosting this conference, which was held on the back of several setbacks, including a startling re-emergence of military coups in Africa politics.
President Koroma acknowledged the Acting President’s concerns about next steps and asserted that it was extremely important that action be taken to address the kneading good governance challenges which are chewing away public trust in view of Africa’s perenial political leadership failure.
The Sierra Leonean statesman acknowledged the ongoing reviews of the African Union and ECOWAS good governance and electoral frameworks and urged expedition of such reviews in view of the prevailing disappointment and frustrations by the African people.
He commended the current Zambian government of President Hakainde Hichilema for the strides taken so far in deepening democratic good governance. “Keep doing the right things. You may not be able to solve all the problems but make concrete efforts that visibly provide hope to citizens,”the president suggested.
The event was climaxed by a high-level panel marking the International Day of Democracy.