By Abigail Chaponda in London, United Kingdom
Her Majesty’s representative the Marshal of the Diplomatic Corps who is also former British High Commissioner to Zambia, Mr. Alistair Harrison has said High Commissioner Chikonde made positive contributions to UK/Zambia relations and represented His Excellency President Lungu with dignity and honour.
And His Excellency Mr. Muyeba Chikonde, outgoing Zambia’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom has praised the existing excellent bilateral relations between Zambia and the United Kingdom and thanked the
UK government for their continued support and cooperation in various sectors in Zambia.
Meanwhile speaking on behalf of High Commissioners and Ambassadors, H.E Mr. Filipe Chidumo, Mozambique’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom said that High Commissioner Chikonde was not just his colleague, but also his friend whose legacy in London would be cherished for eternity.
During a farewell reception, organised in collaboration with the Zambian Comminity, held at the Zambia High Commission Chancery to mark the end of his four-year posting to the United Kingdom, High Commissioner Chikonde thanked His Excellency the President of the Republic of Zambia, Mr. Edgar Chagwa Lungu for giving him the opportunity to represent him as High Commissioner in the United Kingdom and countries of extra accreditation as Ambassador to the Republic of Ireland and the Holy See.
“This has been an incredible journey and I would like to express my utmost gratitude to His Excellency President Lungu for the honour and privilege of serving at this key mission. I also want to thank each and every one of you for making it even more special and memorable. I have done close to eight years of Diplomatic Service beginning with South Africa from 2012 to 2015. It is for this reason that I wish to remember and thank, with fondness, the late President His Excellency Mr. Michael Chilufya Sata, who first made me transit from being an Architect to a Diplomat. I think the two professions have a lot in common in terms of processes,” he said
Mr. Chikonde thanked Diplomatic and Local support staff for the friendship and their contribution to the enhancement of relations between Zambia and the United Kingdom and countries of extra accreditation.
“To all the Excellencies and friends, it is difficult to name each one of you but just know you hold a special place in our hearts. As part of the London Diplomatic Corps and the wider Zambian Community, we have all joined in sharing, celebrating and embracing our cultures, values and identities as well as learn from each other the virtues of tolerance and care. Please give my successor the support you have always accorded me,” he said.
And giving a tribute on behalf of the Mission staff, Counselor Economic Mr. Mukela Mutukwa gave a moving speech highlighting High Commissioner Chikonde’s contribution during his tour of service.
He described High Commissioner Chikonde as a steadfast leader who was open to all irrespective of rank adding that Mr. Chikonde was a parent, friend, brother and mentor who offered support and guidance to all.
“During your Tenure, bilateral cooperation with the United Kingdom has grown from strength to strength and people to people contact enhanced. We had high level visits to Zambia by the Lord Mayor with a Business Delegation; the Trade Envoy Baroness Lindsey Northover and the Royal visit by the Duke of Sussex-
Prince Harry just to name a few. Your Excellency you have actively participated in two Commonwealth Heads of Governments Meetings one of which you were honoured as leader. You were bestowed, by the City of London Corporation, with the Free Man of the City of London,”.
“In 2015 we held our investment forum here in London and the fruits of this initiative are still seen today with many British companies operating in Zambia such as: Sunbird, Tower Resources, Commonwealth Development Cooperation, Prudential and many more. Currently NMS Infrastructure with funding from
the UK Export Finance have undertaken the construction and equipping of over 108 health posts and three District hospitals to a value of $ 300 million,” he said.
Mr. Mutukwa said High Commissioner Chikonde represented President Lungu with honour and dignity and served the people of Zambia with distinction adding that he galvanised Zambians in the Diaspora and enthusiastically fostered closer bilateral relations with the UK.
“With the Economic and Trade, Press and Tourism portfolios of the Mission, under your leadership High Commissioner, we have endeavored to target International Media and Tour operators with various projects such as the Forbes Africa Zambia Edition , the Zambia Independence supplement published in the
Daily Telegraph, all aimed at enhancing Zambia’s visibility in those sectors. All these initiatives are with the view of doing more with very little,” he said.
And speaking on behalf of the Zambian Diaspora, Interim Chairperson for the Zambian Diaspora Steering Committee Tanya Fooks said High Commissioner Chikonde and his team managed to forge strong partnerships with the Diaspora in promoting trade and investment through various groups.
And Mr. Alistair Harrison who spoke as Her Majesty’s representative thanked Mr. Chikonde for enhancing good bilateral relations between the two countries saying the relations had continued to improve over the years with the ongoing projects in many fields in which both countries are collaborating.
He said the UK and Zambia enjoyed a long-standing, strong and growing relationship underpinned by deepening people-to-people links. He added that with the Support of UK Export Finance, the project to construct and equip over 90 health posts and three District Hospitals was amongst one of UKs big
Programmes that once completed will benefit the country enormously.
“I bring goodwill messages from Her Majesty the Queen who wishes you and your family well as you return to Zambia. Zambia is a beautiful country with friendly people and has the best Game parks and waterfalls. I enjoyed my diplomatic posting to Zambia, and I wish you and your family well.,” he said.
The reception was attended by Her Majesty’s Marshal of the Diplomatic Corps Mr. Alistair Harrison, members of the diplomatic corps, representatives from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Princesses ’Foundation, the Zambia Catholic Chaplaincy UK, the Zambian Community, British investors and other guests and friends of the High Commissioner.