Welcome to our National Day; America’s 241st birthday.
Our MC covered most of the protocol and in the interest of time I won’t repeat him save to recognize our Guest of Honor, the Honorable Minister of Finance Felix Mutati.
I would also like to recognize at the outset all the work done by the Embassy staff to make this event possible. Thank you all and in particular thanks to Tracey Chandonnet, who pulled this event together but who can’t be with us today.
And I would also like to thank the American companies who contributed to this event.
Most of all I’d like to thank my wife, Klaudia, and my sons Alek and Adam. This is the third July 4th event that we will have hosted here in Lusaka at our home. It is most likely our last. It will certainly be the last for Klaudia and the boys, who will be returning to the U.S. this summer.
If you will allow me a moment I’d like to invite my wife, my partner, to come to the stage for a moment. Klaudia is really the force behind this event and every other at this house for the past three years.
It appears I will be staying on a bit longer, though I don’t know how much longer.
Staying in Zambia without my family will be difficult but it will be made easier by friends and colleagues. I know I speak for Klaudia and my sons as well when I say we have never lived in a country as friendly and welcoming as Zambia.
We have had some close friends from abroad visiting us the past week and it has been interesting to see Zambia through their eyes: the beauty of the country, the warmth of its people, and the promise of its future.
In that regard, it is no accident that I asked Honorable Mutati to be here today. In my time here, I have tried to highlight the great economic potential of this country.
Two years ago, in my July 4 remarks, I described what an economically successful Zambia could look like with vibrant mining, power, agriculture and tourism sectors generating jobs, growth, and revenue.
I know this is the task the Minister has set for himself and it is one with which the United States is committed to helping.
That assistance is more than rhetorical. For a decade now, Zambia has been one of the ten largest recipients of U.S. humanitarian assistance. At well over $500 million annually, it is the highest in the world on a per capita basis.
We are also, of course, major contributors to the IMF, the World Bank, the Global Fund, and other international and multilateral institutions that also provide assistance to Zambia.
The billions of U.S. dollars we have contributed to this country over the years have saved the lives of millions of Zambians, have helped educate a generation of Zambians, and have helped spur increases in agricultural productivity and rural incomes.
And recently, we have even been seen actually building something, a new drainage and sewer system for Lusaka that will improve the health and well-being of hundreds of thousands of Lusaka’s residents, including in some of this city’s poorest neighborhoods.
The economic future of this country rests first and foremost, I would argue, on the development of its human capital, something to which we are proud to have contributed.
However, it will also rest on the country’s political context: Zambia’s continued democratic success and the long-term peace and stability that it provides.
In that regard, in the context of recent events, let me, on behalf of the United States, appeal again for Zambians to reconcile with one another politically so that the country may move forward together to a bright and prosperous future.
We regret the divide that has emerged among Zambians and the way it has affected international perceptions of this country.
At this juncture, dialogue, reconciliation, and respect for due process and civil rights are more important than ever. We call on all Zambians, no matter what political affiliation, no matter what ethnicity, to exercise restraint and engage in positive dialogue to resolve the country’s current political difficulties.
We call upon all Zambians to preserve and to protect Zambia’s reputation for democracy; its reputation for peace; its reputation for civility. Zambia has come too far, and has too far yet to go in its development, to sacrifice the needs and rights of the many for the narrow political interests of the few.
July 4th is a celebration of democracy and its virtues. We believe that it is the one system of government that can best promote a country’s development because it is the one form of government that derives its authority from the will of the people.
The United States is a friend of Zambia’s and of Zambians. I believe our actions have proven that time and time again. And as a friend we want the best for this country; we will remain engaged; we will continue to work for Zambia’s future.
With that, allow me to offer a toast to Zambia, to the Zambian people, and to His Excellency, the President of Zambia, Edgar Chagwa Lungu.