PRESIDENT Edgar Lungu has directed the National Heritage Conservation Commission (NHCC) to declare more sites as National Monuments to stimulate rural development especially in chiefdoms.
The Head of State has also urged all Zambians to become tourists of their own beautiful country.
Mr Lungu said most heritage sites were found in various chiefdoms and hence there was need to declare them as National Monuments to encourage rural development in various parts of the country.
He said this in Livingstone yesterday at Victoria Falls World Heritage site in a speech read for him by Ministry of Chiefs and Traditional Affairs Deputy Minister, John Kufuna, during the commemoration of the first ever African World Heritage Day celebrations.
African countries will for the first time this year going forward, start celebrating May 5 as the African World Heritage Day which is a month commonly referred to as Africa month.
This is the month in which Pan Africanism was born years back during the period when th founding fathers such as Nkwame Krumah, Kenneth Kaunda, Jomo Kenyata and Mwalimu Julius Nyirere among others reigned Africa.
May 5 also marks the 10th anniversary of the African World Heritage Fund.
“I wish to direct the National Heritage Conservation Commission (NHCC) to declare more sites as National Monuments to stimulate rural developments as most of these sites are found in chiefdoms.
“My Government recognises the fact that heritage sites provide opportunities for tourism especially waterfalls that attract a number of tourists and social-economic developments such as adventure tourism, hotel industry, cultural and eco-tourism.
“These activities have spill-over effects on other sectors of the economy such as agriculture, transport and communication which are pivotal to national development,” Mrt Lungu said.
He noted that since most natural heritage sites were located in the rural parts of the country, they had potential of reducing rural poverty through the creation of employment opportunities.
Currently, Zambia has a total number of 4, 052 cultural and natural heritage sites.
Mr Lungu said he was aware that the NHCC was reviewing the Heritage Conservation Act of 1989 and was in the process of finalising the National Heritage Conservation Policy whose process started in 2009.
“I would like to urge the Ministry of Chiefs and Traditional Affairs to ensure that both the Policy and Act must provide for participation off local communities, vulnerable groups and the private sector to stimulate rural development and the creation of sustainable jobs,” he said. .
And President Lungu urged all Zambians to be tourists to be tourists of their own beautify country.
He hoped that Zambians would have the opportunity in their lifetime to visit heritage sites and monuments which mark the historical journey as a people of One Zambia One Nation.
“Our country offers diversify and abundance of cultural and natural sites that encapsulate both the beauty and history of the country.
“Indeed we are fortunate to be living in a country blessed with this beauty, despite having one World Heritage Site (Victoria Falls) which is recognised by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO),” he said.
UNESCO Director General, Irina Bokova, said the World Heritage Day was meant to increase global awareness of African heritage and to mobilise greater cooperation for its safeguarding.
In a speech read for her by Zambia National Commission for UNESCO Secretary General Charles Ndakala, Ms Bokova said Africa’s cultural and natural heritage was a force for peace and a driver of development and innovation.
“Out of the 129 cultural and natural sites on the list of World Heritage List, 17 are also on the list of World Heritage in danger.
“The list of threats is long from armed conflict, terrorism, poaching and global warming to uncontrolled urban expansion and mineral and oil exploration,” she said.
NHCC board member, Clifford Chishala said World Heritage Sites had been known to be key drivers of social and economic development in most countries.
Mr Chishala said the survival and fame of Zambia’s tourist capital Livingstone was largely due to the existence of the Victoria Falls World Heritage site.
He further said that heritage sites required the support and involvement of many stakeholders at national and international level.