Speach by Rolf Svanström, Independence Day of 2009

Cutting the Independence cake at the Independence party 2009.

Cutting the Independence cake at the Independence party 2009.

Yours excellency, distinguished guests and friends

We are gathering here to celebrate the 45th anniversy of the young nation Zambia and I am honoured to be a part of this. occasion.  I had the privilege to spend three years in the service of the Zambian government on a Sida contract in the beginning of the 90s. Those years were veri rich in experience and changed somewhat the direction of my life. I didn’t know much about Zambia  before but I have learnt a lot since both about Zambia and Sweden. Things I took for granted in Sweden are the result of of many peoples hard work during many years to build a well functioning and complex state. I follow the development in both countryieswith great interest.

Lately the so called corruption scandal within the Ministry of Health and how it has been handled both in Zambia and in Sweden. To my understanding it was the Zambian authorities  with help from the civil society that discovered and reported the problem and not the donor community and their audit systems, which I regard as a positive sign, a feather in Zambia´s cap and not as a failure of the Swedish control system as the responsible minister formulated it.

This event has also initiated a debate in Sweden about development support which I think is good. But there is one important thing missing in my point of view – the time frame. Zambia, and most other African states, are very young. Most of the Zambian leaders were born when the country still was a colony. How long time does it take to build a nation with well functioning infrastructure and institutions? How long did it take in the Western world?

During my years in the Ministry of Health I was very impressed by how much energy and committment many of the colleagues put in, not everybody of course but many. So I think there is a lot of potential by the Zambian citizens and that Zambia will eventually develop to a good place for most of their people to live in but it will take time. We need to equip ourselves and our leaders with patience and endurance.

The Association is contributing in a small scale to the development of Zambia by the Youth HR project in Kitwe. Recently we were visited by three people from that project ,working together with us to develop realistic methods and tools for monitoring and evaluation of the effects of the project. I think we made good progress and the Zambain friends are saying that they had a very inspiring experience. They and we spent quite many hours on Zambian territory i.e. the premises of the Zambian Embassy. I want to convey the Association’s gratitude to the Ambassador for letting us using your beatiful office not only for this event but also for our board meetings where often somebody from your staff  is with us sharing information. We do appreciate it a lot and it strengthens the bonds between Sweden and Zambia. If you want to support the project there will be pins, vouchers and lottery tickets for sale later.

I propose a toast for the friendship between Sweden and Zambia.

Rolf Svanström, Chairperson SweZam

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