The US Government has urged Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs) working in Zambia desist from engaging themselves in politics of the country ahead of the 2011 tripartite elections.
United States Ambassador to Zambia Mark Storella says the Volunteers should refrain from being partisan but respect the Zambian laws when the country goes to the polls next year.
Mr. Storella noted that Volunteerism is about promoting a better understanding of the people in communities noting that the Zambian government is in support of the services of the PCVs.
Mr. Storella said this in Lusaka last Friday when he swore-in 52 PCVs from America who will be deployed to 22 districts across Zambia in six provinces.
Mr. Storella disclosed that his government will continue to support Zambia’s development agendas such as spending US$1.5 million (more than K7 billion) towards boosting the registration of voters exercise and another US$4.5 million (approximately K22 billion) to run for two-years from 2010 to 2012 in strengthening public institutions like the National Registration Office which is 'allegedly' marred with corruption.
He also outlined the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the President's Malaria Initiative as avenues for dialoging with the Zambian government.
He said over 1,000 PCVs have been working in Zambian communities since 1994 in exploring innovative ways in creating opportunities aimed at poverty alleviation initiatives in the rural communities.
Mr. Storella told the 52 PCVs who will partner with the Zambian Government in the Ministries of Agriculture; Livestock and Fisheries and Health to promote world peace and friendship in communities to pursue HIV/AIDS prevention, promote food security as well as empowering women and children in the rural areas which he noted was key to national development.
The US Envoy warned the PCVs against under-playing President John F. Kennedy's values when he founded Peace Corps Services to Africa in 1961.
The Volunteers who under-went a 9-week training in Chongwe district will undertake fish farmers, teachers and health workers in remote areas of Zambia from Lundazi in Eastern to Mwinilunga in the North-western provinces respectively.
And Health Minister Kapembwa Simbao says the Zambian government appreciates the efforts of the PCVs.
In a speech on his behalf by Health Director of Technical Support Services Dr. Elizabeth Chizema, Hon. Simbao said the Volunteers would help address the quality of life for the people in rural areas.
He thanked the PCvs for coming to Zambia and hopped that they would transfer skills to their Zambian counterparts during their two-year period of service and expressed confidence that they leave the country with new skills.
"You have a lot to teach them but remember the Volunteer has come with a lot of knowledge, motivation and energy to work in order to accomplish your community needs in a sustainable manner and I’m confident that they would leave the country with new skills as well," the Minister said.
And Peace Corps Country Director for Zambia Mr. Thomas Kennedy expressed confidence that the 52 PCVs would work professionally and dedication to duty as they embark on their 'tour of duty'.
Mr. Kennedy urged the Volunteers to embrace the people they would find in the communities they will live in, noting that volunteerism calls for learning, being patient and exchanging cultural backgrounds.