January 15, 2015.
It’s been some time since I posted a blog. I thought it best to wait until I was credentialed by the Zambian Government, which happened in mid-December. And then there were the holidays, vacations, etc.
So a lot has happened since I last wrote.
And we are in a new year and 2015 is off to quite a start for Zambia.
Next week, Zambians will go to the polls to elect a new president to serve out the remainder of former President Sata’s term. We here in the U.S. Embassy hope and expect a free, fair, transparent, and peaceful election. Such an election would build on Zambia’s past democratic progress.
More importantly it could form the foundation for a government dedicated to growing Zambia’s economy and, more importantly, ensuring that the fruits of that growth are distributed fairly.
The United States is a middle class country. Even rich people in the U.S. often consider themselves middle class. And we believe that it is the middle class, not the elite, that spurs economic growth and that provides political stability. So to us, it is Zambia’s growing middle class that is the key to the country’s future and many of our programs are designed to grow Zambia‘s middle class further, whether through education, or health assistance, or by promoting policies that open the economy to the young and to the entrepreneurial.
We are not just hoping for a Zambian government that would pursue such policies, we are actively encouraging it in our discussions with all political parties in Zambia. And we are not just hoping for a free and peaceful election, we are actively assisting Zambia financially and technically, especially its excellent Electoral Commission, the ECZ, to achieve this.
As I have said before for us it is not who wins that is important but how they win – and how they govern afterwards.
It is a happy coincidence for us in the Embassy that the day before Zambia’s election, we will celebrate the birthday of our greatest African-American leader: Martin Luther King, who died a martyr for the cause of justice and equality in America. Dr. King once famously said that “now is the time to make real the promise of democracy.”
That is as true in America today as it was fifty years ago.
And it as true in Zambia as it is America.