Africa-Press – Zambia. The United Kingdom has pledged commitment to support the upcoming election process by working together with all Zambians in ensuring free, fair, credible and peaceful elections.
To prove this partnership, The British High Commissioner to Zambia, Nicholas Woolley has contributed K16 million to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to directly support the preparations and delivery of the elections.
“I am pleased to announce that the UK is contributing £500,000 (approximately 16 million kwacha) to the “Democracy Strengthening in Zambia” (DSZ) programme, as managed by the United Nations Development Programme,” Mr Woolley said.
“As close bilateral partners, friends within the Commonwealth, and fellow members of the Global Community of Democracies, the UK has been a strong supporter of Zambia’s democracy for decades. Our development and diplomacy activities have supported Zambia’s elections processes over many years, in line with the fundamental rights and freedoms that Zambia’s Constitution provides its citizens. And this year will be no different,” he added.
According to a press statement issued to ZANIS in Lusaka today, the British high commissioner appealed to all political parties to uphold Zambia’s long-standing reputation for democracy and peace.
“There is no place for violence. Disagreeing with someone’s political affiliation is not a reason to hound them from their office, to commit physical harm, to forcefully disrupt radio broadcasts, or to damage their livelihood and property. All of us have a responsibility to discourage and call out violence in the strongest possible terms,” he said.
Mr Woolley said Zambians should get ready to forge a new sense of unity after the elections to care for the most marginalized and vulnerable in society.
Meanwhile, UK High Commission’s Development Director and responsible for the UK’s aid programming in Zambia Steve Beel noted that the upcoming elections have the potential to be the closest and most actively contested since Zambia’s Independence.
Mr Beel said the UK and wider international community look to the electoral processes as a key indicator of the health of democracy and the basis for our engagements in country.
“A key expectation is that all individuals, across the civil service, the electoral institutions, the media, wider stakeholders and public at large, can play their roles in this crucial democratic process, and be ready to get behind whatever government emerges after the elections to drive forward Zambia’s future development,” he added.
And UK’s Head of Elections Programming in Zambia, Markus Weimer said UK’s wider work with the civil society is designed to ensure Zambian citizens have the widest means possible to engage in the electoral processes.
Through the UNDP’s multi donor elections fund, the international community supports the government of Zambia to strengthen democracy through functional and inclusive electoral processes which is provided through the UNDP’s three-year Democracy Strengthening in Zambia (DSZ) programme.
The DSZ builds on previous UNDP-led electoral cycle support to Zambia, addresses challenges and incorporates lessons learnt from previous electoral cycles. The UK has actively engaged in the programme’s development and management processes.
The DSZ project is aligned with Zambia’s Seventh (7th) National Development Plan (7NDP) 2017-2021 in which the government of Zambia pledges to promote transparency, accountability, citizen participation, and strengthen governance institutions.