One resident, Mr. Munir Mulla, said “those of us who have ventured into business are having challenges to bring in goods from Zambia for reasons we do not understand clearly. It is surprising because we have been able to get items from other African countries into Sweden and other countries in Europe.”
Zambian resident in Sweden have called on the government to intervene so that imports from Zambia could be allowed into Sweden and other countries in the region. The Zambians made a range of requests and suggestions to the government at a meeting held at the residence of the Zambian Ambassador to Sweden, Ms. Rose Salukatula at the weekend.
Several of those who attended the meeting said they would like to come back to Zambia but did not have land on which to invest. Mrs. Joyce Phiri and Mr. Allan Kabanshi of Stockholm, both called for a government policy that would make it easier for Zambians in the diaspora to own land.
“We have been trying to find our way back into Zambia but this has not been easy because we do not have a place on which we can set up our homes. Most of us want to go back to Zambia but we do not have a place to stay. We would like, while we are here, to start preparing a place we can go back to when we retire,” Mrs Phiri said.
And Mr. Kabanshi added: “We need a mechanism that will help us to easily get land while we are here. A number of us would like to venture into activities such as agriculture if we were given some land.”
The Zambians resident in Sweden commended President Edgar Lungu for taking decisive action and taking the lead in containing the cholera outbreak which hit the country over the last four months.They said the President was firm, decisive and did not consider political expediency when he acted in the manner he did which was an indication that he believed in achieving what was the best for the nation.
Mrs. Docas Svensson of Uppsala, north of Stockholm, said it was commendable that for once, the government decided to risk its popularity and put the nation first by removing vendors from the streets.Mrs. Svensson urged Zambians to support the government on the decision to clean up streets as this had lasting benefits for the country.
“Zambians should realise that doing business on the streets in the manner that they were doing was exposing them to a lot of different hazards. The President was firm enough and decisive when he directed the cleaning up of the streets. It showed decisiveness without looking at political implications. He showed that he put the interests of the nation above his own and that is the Zambia we would like to see and the leader we want,” Mrs. Svensson said as the crowd cheered her on, with several others passing comments in agreement.
The Zambians have also called on Government to outlaw digging of rubbish pits in residential areas as these were a source of hazardous contamination. Mr. Mutepa Sokoni also of Uppsala pointed out that there was a lot of indiscriminate digging of pits in residential areas in which people through a variety of rubbish without regard to the harm caused to the environment.
“A lot of items thrown in these pits contain hazardous material and this will always get in contact with the aquifer which will lead to different diseases such as cancer as people drink water from boreholes and other groundwater sources,” Mr. Sokoni said.
The Zambians commended the embassy for arranging the meeting noting that it was the first time they were being invited to the Ambassador’s residence for just a meeting on an ordinary day.
“You are the first Ambassador that has invited us to merely come together unlike before when we have only met during independence celebrations. This is a good thing for us as Zambians living here as it helps us feel welcome by our country and understand what government is doing for its people,” Mrs. Svensson said.
And in response, Ambassador Salukatula said she was happy to hear that Zambians were following events back home and could even commend President Lungu for the efforts he was putting up to develop the country.
She said the support shown to the President by the Zambians in Sweden over the cleaning up of the streets went to confirm that there were still a lot more Zambians who were able to evaluate issues without being subjective and we’re seeing the many good things that the government was doing.
“It is unfortunate that the country has seen a growing culture of condemning everything for as long as it is done by the government. But today, I am impressed that you people here have set yourselves apart and are able to identify and commend a good thing for what it is. The action taken by the President was not meant to punish anyone but was done in the interest of protecting lives of the citizens and achieving a sustainable solution for the nation.”
In response to a question on what was being done to ensure that vendors did not go back onto the streets, Ms. Salukatula said the government was currently constructing markets which would accommodate traders who may not have had trading space.
On the cholera issue, the Ambassador said it had been discovered that contaminated water from shallow wells and boreholes in urban settlements was one of the major sources of the bacteria that led to the outbreak.
She said government, with the help of cooperating partners, was currently upgrading the water and sewerage reticulation system around the country.
Ms. Salukatula noted that government has also signed a Statutory Instrument to regulate the drilling of boreholes while improperly dug wells had been buried.
The government has also amended and strengthened the law against street vending and public nuisances which now included numerous other offences such as offering or sale of goods in undesignated places or streets, discharging rubbish or waste from one’s moving the vehicle, among others.
On land, Ms. Salukatula said the embassy would follow up the matter with authorities in Zambia before reverting to a position.
She urged the audience to revive the Zambians association as this would be an important vehicle through which they could pursue causes, such as the issue of land and others that were common to them.
“I am sure as an organised citizenry, you will find it easier to present your issues through your representatives to any entity that you may feel you need to engage. Even collaboration with your embassy here will be easier and more effective if you were an organised unit,” the ambassador said.
She called on all Zambians living in Sweden and the seven other countries to which the embassy was accredited, to register with the Mission so that they could easily be accounted for. The seven are Norway, Denmark, Finland, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, and Iceland.
The Ambassador also took time to brief the Zambians on President Lungu’s National Assembly address on 16th March 2018 in which the President made significant pronouncements relating to Zambia’s application of national values and principles over the last one year.
She said as the President said, it was important to note that the application of the national values and principles was not a matter for government alone but a responsibility of every citizen, family, community, institution, whether private or public and the Zambian society at large.
Ms. Salukatula told the meeting that it had now become mandatory to sing the national anthem in full at all official gatherings and in learning institutions and that it was important that all learnt the words of the national anthem and appreciated its meaning as this was a primary symbol of the citizens’ patriotism.
She urged the Zambians to remain the law abiding citizens that they have always been so that they continue making the country proud.
The ambassador also announced that the embassy had started processing applications for dual citizenship for Zambians living in Sweden and the other countries of extra-accreditation who would want to restore their Zambian citizenship which they lost upon acquiring other nationality.
The essence of the provision in the amended constitution is that a citizen shall not lose citizenship by acquiring the nationality of another country.
Ms. Salukatula said all those wishing to restore their Zambian citizenship could present themselves for an interview at the embassy and fill-out the appropriate forms.
ZAMBIAN EMBASSY IN SWEDEN
Source: Lusaka Times