Cabinet backs dual citizenship

His Excellency Mr Edgar C. Lungu, President of the Republic of Zambia, chairing Cabinet Meeting at State House in Lusaka Zambia on Monday 16 March 2015. PHOTOS | EDDIE MWANALEZA

PRESIDENT Lungu has assured Zambians in the diaspora of the much-desired dual citizenship if Parliament approves the proposal in the draft constitution.
And the President has called on African countries to change society’s perception of women and begin to consider them as key players in the social and economic development of the continent.
Mr Lungu said dual citizenship is one of the non-contentious issues that cabinet at its last sitting considered for presentation to parliament for enactment in the phased constitution-making process.
Addressing Zambians living in South Africa on Saturday at a dinner hosted for him by the Zambian High Commission, President Lungu said Government is comfortable with granting dual-citizenship to Zambians living abroad.
“Government has agreed to allow Zambians to hold dual citizenship with some rights like the presidency (contesting presidential elections) being the preserve of those holding single citizenship.
“If Parliament chooses not to accept this, it will be another situation, but if it is agreed, you will have it,” he said.
He said Government is also considering the issue of voting rights for Zambians in the diaspora, through the Electoral Commission of Zambia which is expected to make the relevant proposals.
President Lungu said every Zambian should exercise the right to vote, but necessary mechanisms must be put in place and there should be consensus from every stakeholder, especially the opposition.
Mr Lungu said Government is further looking at ways of incorporating Zambians living abroad in national development through access to land and finance.
Government is also considering suitable incentives to attract Zambian professionals in the diaspora to return to Zambia.
And on the status of local government authorities, President Lungu said Government wants to revamp councils and enable them operate autonomously.
Mr Lungu also assured Zambians abroad that the country is at peace and they should not panic when they hear false stories suggesting otherwise.
Earlier, Minister of Foreign Affairs Harry Kalaba said his ministry is working on a diaspora policy, which they expect to complete by mid-October this year.
After interacting with Zambians living in South Africa, President Lungu who was accompanied by First Lady Esther and senior government officials, opened the floor with Dandy Krazy’s song.
Elated Zambians took turns to shake hands with the President and First Lady, while others took pictures of the couple.
Addressing the 25th Africa Union summit that opened yesterday, Mr Lungu said there is need to create an enabling environment in which women and the girl child can realise their productive and intellectual ability.
“When we assist women who are oppressed, we assist them to gain self-esteem and elevate them to a position that enables them to bring out the best of their ability to impact positively on the communities within which they live; that is empowerment,” he said.
Mr Lungu said empowerment of women in all sectors of the economy is essential and indispensable to any meaningful development.
He said the southern African region has taken women empowerment seriously by adopting stand-alone protocol on gender and supporting programmes to address the plight of women and the girl child.