Cape Town – Zambia President Hakainde Hichilema accepted a rare invitation to address the European Union (EU) Parliament in Brussels, Belgium, on Thursday, 23 June 2022.
President Hichilema’s visit to Brussels was at the invitation of Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Union (EU) Commission and Roberta Metsola, President of the European Parliament.
In his address to MEPs, Zambia’s President Hakainde Hichilema thanked Parliament for its support, advocated closer relations with the EU, and condemned the war against Ukraine, said a statement issued by the European Parliament on Friday.
Introducing President Hichilema, EP President Roberta Metsola said Zambia stands as an example of a mature democracy for the whole of the African continent.
“Now more than ever, in the current troubled geopolitical context and during Russia’s efforts to increase its influence in Africa, Zambia’s progress needs to be supported.”
President Metsola also reminded MEPs that, back in 2017, Parliament adopted a resolution condemning the incarceration of President Hichilema on politically motivated charges.
“Zambia is back in business, in the Champions League”, President Hichilema said, referring to the results of the country’s most recent elections.
Furthermore, he reiterated Zambia’s commitment to putting people’s interests, reforms, free media, the rule of law, youth and education at the top of his political agenda.
He advocated for enhanced Africa- EU cooperation, more trade, and more exchange of knowledge.
“We categorically say no to the war in Ukraine. It is tragic and heartbreaking to witness the thousands of lives lost, and millions displaced unnecessarily as a result of an avoidable conflict in Ukraine”, President Hichilema said while speaking about peace and security in the world.
He added that the impact of the war was felt in his country in the form of higher fuel, food and fertilisers prices, and he urged all parties to focus more on improving the lives of people, not waging war.
Hichilema also offered his help in overcoming food shortages.
Hichilema also expressed his profound gratitude for the support of the European Parliament for him and for Zambia during his incarceration and the dark days of Zambia’s democratic development.
“I remain indebted to you for standing up for human rights and freedom of all people in Zambia”, he said.
You can re-watch the formal address by President Hichilema here.