Press Conference by Speaker

The President of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, (IPU) 
The Secretary-General of the IPU, 
Ladies and gentlemen, 
It is my pleasure and indeed honour for my country, Zambia, to host the IPU family for the next few days.

The hosting of the 134th Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) Assembly and related meetings constitutes an important milestone in the rich history of the African continent.  We expect it to leave an indelible mark on our memories, and to be part of our generational legacy.

This year’s theme which is Rejuvenating democracy: Giving voice to the youth could not have come at a better time than now when the majority of the constituents whom we serve through our countries representative democracies are the youths.  The ideas which the youths shared during the Third IPU Global Conference of Young Parliamentarians that was held here in Lusaka between 16th and 17th March, 2016, have convinced me beyond a shadow of doubt that the world’s future is in safe hands.  The energy, innovation and dynamism which the young parliamentarians displayed is what is required to rejuvenate democratic governance across the world.

For many years, Zambia, has recognised the efficacy of the IPU’s development strategy as a leading advocate of democracy by promoting and strengthening the institution of parliament through assisting parliamentarians to represent their constituents freely, safely and effectively.  The IPU provides a very important space and platform for people from different parts of the world to sit down and resolve some thorny areas of conflict which pose a danger to democratic governance. Examples include the Bosnia – Yugoslavia conflict, Apartheid in South Africa, Israeli – Palestinian Conflict, Iraqi war problems and the current ISIS problem in the Middle East.  The IPU is continually active behind the scenes in the world’s hot spots, helping to avoid or resolve conflict and to nurture fledgling parliaments.

It goes without saying that National parliaments are the cornerstones of democracy. Parliamentarians are ultimately responsible for the enactment of sound laws and the supervision of the process of governance.  That being the case, how well the world implements its new development agenda which are the Sustainable Development Goals, or SDG’s will largely depend on how as people’s representatives around the world reform the laws of our respective countries in line with the paradigm shift.  I am therefore glad that the different sessions of the Assembly will provide a concrete platform for us to firmly entrench the SDGs in the global development agenda.

It must be noted also that the IPU has campaigned tirelessly to improve the status of women and, in particular, to encourage their participation in politics.  In any case, the concept of democracy entails equal rights and representation for all sections of the community.  Albeit correcting the imbalance will take time and it is clear that the initiative must come largely from women themselves.  I hope that the meeting of women parliamentarians will come up with concrete and creative ways of energising the fight for gender parity in terms parliamentary representation across the world.  I have no doubt in my mind that the Zambian women parliamentarians will use the knowledge they will gather from the experiences of other parliamentarians to assist them encourage as many women as possible to not only to stand for parliamentary seats, but to also turn up in large numbers on voting day during the August 11 2016, Presidential, Parliamentary and Local Government Elections to cast their ballot.

As evidenced by the number of observer organisations which will be represented at the 134th  IPU Assembly, it is abundantly clear to me that the IPU has become an increasingly important bridge between parliamentarians and international decision-making in fields such as peace-building or global commerce.

With about 2,000 people attending the 134 IPU Assembly, Zambia has gratuitously appointed ambassadors across the globe who will speak about the tourism potential of the country. In an event, Africa targets to reach 130 million international tourists by 2030 and this exposure to the international community is no doubt a vital stepping stone to that feat.

Since, Zambians, being firm believers in the elections being key drivers of democracy go to the polls this year in August, 2016, I am delighted to acknowledge the messages of goodwill which the country has received from almost everyone I have been privileged to interact with from amongst those who have come to attend the IPU Assembly.  To them all I say, thank you.

Events like the 134th IPU Assembly, which can be referred as 'A uniquely African Assembly’ are critical in the realisation of an integrated economic-political entity called Africa.  As I conclude, Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, allow me to welcome everyone to this warm heart of Africa and to wish you the best in the deliberations and resolutions. Based on the preparations which we have put in place, I am sure that everyone will enjoy our truly African hospitality.  Here people will every morning wake up to the chirping of our birds and the aura of the African sun, and at the end of each day go to sleep under the star-filled African sky.

I thank you.