A PLACE TO LIVE FOR

Zambia 2017 | DIPLOMACY | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Susan Sikaneta, Ambassador of Zambia to Ethiopia & Permanent Representative to the African Union and Economic Commission for Africa, on championing peace across the continent, advancing women's rights, and promoting Pan-Africanism.

Susan Sikaneta
BIOGRAPHY
Prior to serving as Ambassador of Zambia to Ethiopia and Permanent Representative to the African Union and Economic Commission for Africa, Susan Sikaneta was High Commissioner of Zambia to India and served for 12 years as permanent secretary in Zambia’s Ministry of Information and Broadcasting services, Cabinet Office, Lusaka Province, Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Youth, Sports and Child Development. From 2002 to 2005, she worked as Ambassador of the African Union, and was the First Executive Secretary of the African Union at the Southern Africa Regional Office in Malawi.

How has Zambia contributed to the African Union over the years?

Zambia, through Dr Kenneth David Kaunda, was one of the founding members of the OAU in 1963. The OAU's main agenda was to attain independence for the whole of Africa from colonial rule. Zambia became a leading country in the liberation struggle of the southern African states: Angola, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. With almost the entire African continent liberated, Zambia has continued to champion peace for the continent. Zambia was elected to the African Union Peace and Security Council (PSC) in 2016 for a three-year term and since then it has used the seat on the council as a strong advocate for peace and security on the continent. In 2016, Zambia hosted the PSC in Lusaka, where the Roadmap on Practical Steps to Silence Guns in Africa by 2020 was drawn up. It has also taken part in missions of peace-building in coordination with the UN and EU to discuss resolution of conflicts in the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Libya, Mali, Burundi, and South Sudan.

Following your championing of women as peacemakers, what initiatives have been launched by the AU to harness female potential across Africa?

There can be no sustainable and lasting peace without the active involvement of women. Participation of women in conflict prevention, peacekeeping, and peace building is extremely important and cannot be overemphasized if we are to ensure success in Africa's peace-making efforts. However, female representation in peacekeeping and in protecting lives in challenging security environments is too low for comfort. Some initiatives have been launched by the African Union to empower women and involve them in peace-making. In 2004, the Solemn Declaration on Gender Equality in Africa adopted by heads of state and governments called on the need to ensure the full and effective participation and representation of women in peace processes, including the prevention and management of conflict and post conflict reconstruction in Africa and to appoint women as special envoys and special representatives of the African Union.

How can collaboration between the AU and Zambia help tackle the challenges facing Zambia currently?

The government of the Republic of Zambia under the directive of HE President Lungu successfully ratified and deposited a number of OAU/AU treaties from the time he took office as President in January 2015 to date. These include the following instruments that were ratified and deposited at the African Union Commission: The General Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the OAU; The African Charter on the Values and Principles of Public Service and Administration; the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights on the Rights of Older Persons; the Protocol on the Establishment of the African Monetary Fund (AMF); and the African Union Convention on Cyber Security and Personal Data Protection, among others.

What areas will the AU-Zambia partnership focus on in the future?

Zambia and the African Union have enjoyed a strong relationship since the early 1960s. Zambia is a founder member of the OAU and now the AU and is committed and consistent to the ideals of Pan Africanism. In 2001, Zambia hosted, in Lusaka, the historic Summit of Heads of State and Government, which led to the transformation of the OAU into the AU. Projects of focus that Zambia is involved in include the Integrated High Speed Train Network (IHSTN), which intends to connect all African capitals and commercial centers through an African High-Speed Train in order to: facilitate the movement of goods, services, and people, reduce transport costs, and relieve the congestion of current and future systems; hosting the Africa Centre for Disease Control (Africa CDC) in Ndola; the Economic Social and Cultural Council (ECOSOCC), whose headquarters are to be constructed in Lusaka; and finally hosting the AU Summit in 2022.