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LUSAKA, Sept. 10 (Xinhua) — Zambia’s Acting President Rupiah Banda has reiterated the government’s commitment to continuing with late President Levy Mwanawasa’s vision of national development, planning and economic management

    Speaking during his national address on the state of the nation on Tuesday evening on Zambia national Broadcasting Services radio and television, Banda, who became the acting president after the sudden death of President Mwanawasa last month, said the late President’s administration reintroduced national development planning which has refocused on economic management.

    Banda, who has gained landslide support from the ruling party, the movement for Multi-Party Democracy (MMD), for his nomination of candidate to contest in the October 30 presidential by-election, said this has so far led the country to record tremendous economic progress.

    This was the first national address by an Acting President in the history of Zambia since the country gained independence in 1964.

    On the economy, Banda said the government will continue with the prudent fiscal and monetary policies for macro economic stability which have made the country’s economy to register growth rates averaging 5 percent and 6 percent in 2006 and 2007 respectively.

    “Low inflation has also been recorded with single digit levels attained for the first time in 30 years in 2006,” he said.

    The acting president said that the government would continue to increase exports, which, together with the debt relief, have led to a substantial build up of foreign currency reserves which now stand at 1.4 billion U.S. dollars.

    “This position has also contributed to a stable exchange rate thereby enhancing business and economic planning,” he said.

    He said Zambia’s economic strides have been appreciated in the international financial circles to an extent that the country was now poised to have a sovereign credit rating for the first time ever.

    On agriculture, Banda said the government would continue to maintain adequate strategic food reserves to ensure national food security.

    The government would continue to develop irrigation system in the country while farming blocks for commercial agriculture would continue to be opened up, he said.

    On the mining sector, Banda said the government would carry on with the same pace of developing the sector because it still remains to be the driver of the Zambian economy.

    “I want, in this regard to assure both local and foreign investors that there will be no departure from the current policies and focus in the mining sector,” he said.

    On Commerce and Trade, Banda said the government will continue with all economic programs that late President Mwanawasa’s administration had set.

    He said tourism and public service management would continue being pursued as before.

    Banda said Zambia’s development agenda will continue to be guided by the fifth National Development Plan within the context of the vision to become a prosperous middle income country by the year 2030.

    “Let us all in unity and fortitude to preserve the peace and stability that our country has continued to enjoy since independence. Let us together make our country a prosperous nation,” he urged.

    Zambia will hold the presidential by-election on October 30 to choose a successor to late President Mwanawasa who died last month.

    In his national speech, Banda appealed to Zambians to remain calm, peaceful and united during the pre-election period. He also urged political parties to conduct issue-based campaigns in a clean and dignified manner.

    The new president is to complete the remainder of Mwanawasa’s term before running for a second term of five years in 2011.

    President Mwanawasa, 59, who won re-election in the 2006 general elections, died in Paris on August 19 after suffering a stroke.

    Under the Zambian constitution, emergency elections must be called within 90 days from the date of the presidential office becoming vacant.

Editor: Wang Hongjiang