By Canisius Mushibwe
Zambia celebrates its 57th Independence anniversary today with a lot of economic hardships that leave the majority of its citizens in poverty.
Access to quality education and technology for most, is still but a dream not withstanding poor healthcare infrastructure which is leaves many in the rural areas of the country with very few quality options.
The New United Party for National Development (UPND) under the leadership of the new president Hakainde Hichilema has brought new hope for the future and promised to tackle these issues by prioritizing economic recovery policies.
The independence celebrations are being held under the theme ‘Celebrating a new dawn anchored on national unity and development’.
The President, in his national independence day address on the eve of the 24th of October, reiterated on live national TV that economic independence still remains a far-fetched reality for majority of the citizenry.
President Hichilema comforted all Zambians that there’s a brighter day on the horizon and with competent leadership at all helms of the government, all was possible.
He urged citizens to uphold the peace and unity that the country’s forefathers fought for earnestly, stating that Zambia is a beacon of peace in the region.
The head of state implored Zambians to be united empathizing the country’s diversity in colour, tribe or culture is a source of strength and that each should celebrate and embrace others’ distinct heritage.
He remembered the late former President, Kenneth Kaunda who brought 72 tribes together amidst domestic tensions that threatened the country’s cohesion.
The great pan Africanist managed to avoid war and united the country after spearheading the war of independence from colonial rule and inculcated the mindset of ‘ONE ZAMBIA, ONE NATION’.
This is the first time Zambia is celebrating independence without its hero, who believed in the ideologies of peace and unity.
President Hichilema reiterated the need to exhibit pride in Zambia’s rich cultural heritage and preserve it for the present and future generations, a social identity and the pride for the nation.
He said citizens must also use the rich culture to contribute to national unity and the development of work just as the African Union declared this year, as the year to celebrate culture and heritage as levers for creating the Continent we want.
The Zambian president said the Youth are on top of his administration’s agenda with two ministries set up to focus on their needs.
The ministry includes one for small and medium enterprises to provide a conducive environment for business development and a sharp focus in job creation.
Furthermore, the ministry of Science and Technology was introduced to enhance technology advances in the country and reduce the digital divide between urban and rural areas.
As the country celebrates its 57th anniversary, the president said people should have a mindset shift by forsaking vices and embracing hard work to achieve prosperity for all.
Present Hichilema said there is a need to fight inequality and reduce poverty by fighting corruption and mitigating climate change challenges.