Anti-corruption drive, reforms dominate new president's vision for Zambia

Hakainde Hichilema outlines government's priorities in maiden parliamentary address

James Kunda   | 10.09.2021
Anti-corruption drive, reforms dominate new president's vision for Zambia

LUSAKA, Zambia

The focus was on recovering Zambia’s “stolen assets,” rooting out corruption, and enacting reforms as the country’s new President Hakainde Hichilema delivered his maiden address to parliament on Friday.

Hichilema took office last month after defeating his predecessor Edgar Lungu in the Aug. 12 presidential election, centering his campaign on what he said was rampant corruption and abuse of power by Lungu and the Patriotic Front.

“We will introduce specialized mechanisms to fast-track the recovery of stolen assets, as well as courts, focused on corruption and economic crimes,” he told lawmakers while opening the first session of Zambia’s 13th National Assembly in the capital Lusaka.

Hichilema promised a “zero-tolerance policy” on corruption and vowed his government will spare no effort to ensure that perpetrators are held to account.

He said the government will pursue constitutional reforms, including expanding the bill of rights to integrate economic, social, and cultural rights “anchored on a broad-based consensus among all 18 million Zambians.”

Hichilema also promised electoral reforms aimed at increasing the independence of the country’s elections commission, as well as changes to the Public Order Act to prevent its misuse.

On the fiscal front, the president said his administration envisages a diverse economy that can sustain its debts and provide more formal and informal employment opportunities for Zambians.

Mineral royalties and other taxes will be reviewed to ensure that Zambians benefit from the nation’s natural resources, he added.

Hichilema said operations and management of the country’s power utility firm Zesco will also be reformed to make it more efficient and cost-effective.

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