28 January 2010

Zambia: First Lady Calls for Stronger Ties Between Los Angeles, Lusaka

FIRST Lady Thandiwe Banda has called for the forging of stronger ties between Los Angeles and its sister city Lusaka to help Zambia meet some of the most pressing challenges facing the country.

Mrs Banda was speaking when she held a meeting with Los Angeles city officials as part of her schedule which has seen her hold a series of engagements with a cross-section of authorities.

In the meeting in the Los Angeles City Hall and also attended by Tourism, Environment and Natural Resources Minister Cathrine Namugala, the first lady said Zambia had a lot to learn from Los Angeles which twinned with Lusaka in May 1968.

She said although the Zambian government was doing its best to making life bearable for its citizens, there were some areas that needed the intervention of such well-wishers as the sister city of Los Angeles.

"There are so many people in my country who need help. But the Government can only provide so much. So whatever assistance we can get from you will be appreciated," she said.

Mrs Banda cited agriculture, education, health and infrastructure development as some of the sectors that could benefit from the technical expertise of Los Angeles.

And the Los Angeles council members, led by deputy mayor Mary Long, pledged to strengthen the relationship with Lusaka as it was the only sub-Saharan African city that had ties with Los Angeles.

The council members said they were willing to partner with Zambia in the areas of empowering women involved in small and medium business enterprises.

Other areas of interest were on how to address the impact of climate change, dealing with HIV/AIDS and the empowering of people with disabilities.

Los Angeles council director of community services Betty Wilson said people with disabilities were mostly of African and Latino descent and that there was a high co-relation between poverty and disability.

In the same meeting, Ms Namugala said social welfare was an integral part of national development and that Zambia would be willing to work with Los Angeles in the strengthening and enforcement of various pieces of legislation.

Mrs Banda's delegation was later taken on a conducted tour of the city hall and to the junction which has the names of all of Los Angeles' sister cities.

She also held a closed meeting with the Los Angeles Council on World Affairs at the Marriot Hotel where matters of mutual interest were discussed.

While here, Mrs Banda has also met management at the Ronald Reagan Medical Center at UCLA (University of California at Los Angeles) where it was agreed that the institution and the Zambian Government implement a programme in which personnel from the institution would help train Zambians.

A similar meeting was held at the Anderson School of Business Management, venue of a women's entrepreneurship workshop that was attended by 13 Zambian businesswomen who had accompanied Mrs Banda here.

The business women include Veronica Mukuni, who is the wife of Senior Chief Mukuni of the Toka-Leya people of Kazungula district.

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