President Hakainde Hichilema says changing legally elected governments through military coups should have no place in Zambia and the African continent as a whole.
And US President, Joe Biden, pledged nearly US$690 million to promote democracy across the globe.
Addressing the democratic community when he opened the African region session of the second summit for democracy, President Hichilema said African countries must desist from changing constitutionally elected governments through illegal means.
Mr Hichilema said African countries must embrace democratic means of changing governments through free, fair and transparent elections.
President Hichilema observed that Africa is littered with military coups which are unfortunately becoming the norm for changing governments.
“The summit for democracy is a significant one. It contributes to our firm resolve to strengthen our democratic governance on the African continent especially at a time when we have a number of countries experiencing military coups,” said President Hichilema.
He said military coups must never be entertained in African countries who should instead embrace the ballot to effect change in political governance.
He explained that the platform provided by the second summit for democracy must be used to devise measures and new commitments to furthering democracy on the continent.
President Hichilema further said Africa must mobilise and collectively respond to the challenges and threats the continent faces in its governance and development trajectory.
And President Hichilema has paid glowing tribute to African countries that rose above Covid-19 environment and held elections in order to honour the constitutional requirements for holding democratic polls to maintain stability.
President Hichilema told the delegates from over 16 African countries attending the second summit for democracy to build capacity of electoral bodies to oversee free, fair and transparent elections under conducive environment.
Mr Hichilema also said although strong leaders are necessary to inspire and drive the spirit of democratic dispensation, strong institutions are also needed to provide checks arising from human excesses in the application of political power.
President Hichilema noted that Zambia is convinced that democracy is the best model of governance as demonstrated by her embracing it after abandoning one party state politics.
He shared with the delegates that Zambia has made a lot of undertakings since the inaugural summit for democracy.
President Hichilema pointed out that Zambia has embarked on a number of legislative reforms to deepen democracy.
He said his administration has repealed the law which criminalised defamation of the President as well as abolished the death penalty in order to be in tandem with contemporary democratic tenets.
President Hichilema pledged the UPND administration’s continued committed to reviewing the Public Order Act in order to promote freedom of expression, assembly and association.
President Hichilema has since assured the democratic community that his administration will never close down any media house as the fourth estate is an important player in the country’s democratic dispensation.
Meanwhile, President Hichilema praised US President, Joe Biden, for the summit for democracy initiative and selecting Zambia to co-host the second edition at a time when several African countries have made strides to improve democratic processes in respective countries.
He urged African countries to do more beyond the summit and incorporate the summit for democracy ideals in the daily life, functions and work of government and respective institutions.
Mr Hichilema said civil society can play an enhanced role in providing checks and balances in furthering democracy in respective countries.
And speaking at the African region second summit for democracy event in Lusaka, US Secretary of Education, Miguel Cardona, praised Zambia for being a beacon of democracy in Africa and the globe.
“What you have accomplished in Zambia is an inspiration to the world,” said Dr. Cardona.
Dr. Cardona stressed that democracy delivers hope for change and choices to effect change through the ballot and provides a chance for inclusive economic growth and development.
“Today, I have the honour of speaking from one of the bright spots. Zambia, this is your moment. Zambia’s reform agenda today presents a model democratic and economic renewal,” said Dr. Cardona.
He connected with the Zambian delegates when he said ‘Zambia Kuchalo’, and famously interpreted Dr Kaunda’s Tiyende Pamodzi slogan, as “Let’s roll together ‘ in advancing democracy.
Dr Cardona, who led the US delegation to the Lusaka summit, said Zambia stands out in her quest to strengthening her democratic dispensation.
He praised young people for realising their democratic potential and being a catalyst for effecting change of government through constitutional means.
“Zambia’s young people are raising the bar for the country’s future. Here in Zambia, young people stood in long lines, waiting to cast their vote, they were able to change and determine the course and future of the country,” he said.
The US Education Secretary said his country will continue to remain a strong partner in the democratic dispensation.
Dr. Cardona said Zambia’s free education policy should be used to promote civic education, necessary for enlightening young people about their democratic role in society.
And speaking earlier, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Stanley Kakubo, said the summit presented an opportunity for African countries to share best practices on democracy.
Mr Kakubo said it is time for Africa to plant seeds of democracy for the generations to come as it provides for peace, stability and economic growth and development.
Minister of Justice, Mulambo Haimbe, Chief Justice Mumba Malila, Speaker of the National Assembly, Nelly Mutti, were among Zambian dignitaries that attended the second summit for democracy Africa region session in Lusaka.
Also in attendance were members of the diplomatic corps, representatives of foreign governments and local and international civil society groups.
And addressing world leaders virtually during the second summit for democracy, US President, Joe Biden, pledged about US$690 million in new funding to support democracy across the globe.
President Biden said strengthening democracy is cardinal to ensuring that a governance system that promotes citizen participation and freedom of expression, assembly and association and human rights takes centre stage.
Mr Biden stated that democracy must not be allowed to backslide.
He said there is need to promote a resilient and sustainable democratic dispensation that respects and guarantees rights of citizens and provides space for inclusive economic growth and social political stability.
“Today, we can say with pride that the democracies of the world are getting stronger, not weaker. Autocracies of the world are getting weaker, not stronger,” said President Biden.