With less than two weeks to go before the official opening of the Commonwealth Conference, preparations in the Zambian capital of Lusaka have reached an advanced stage.
With less than two weeks to go before the official opening of the Commonwealth Conference, preparations in the Zambian capital of Lusaka have reached an advanced stage. Before the conference gets under way, Queen Elizabeth the Second of Britain plans to visit Zambia as the guest of President Kenneth Kaunda -- leader of the landlocked central African state since 1964. As titular head of the Commonwealth, the Queen will preside over the formal opening ceremony on August the first, but she'll take no part in the talks that follow.
SYNOPSIS: These spacious villas in Mulungushi village, will house the delegates, their wives and aides. Doctor Kaunda toured the village recently, and seemed pleased with the facelift given the villas -- originally built for the 1970 Summit on Non-aligned Countries. Total cost of the facelift is estimated at one-point-five million kwacha, or two million U.S. dollars.
Venue for the conference will be here, at Mulungushi Hall. The complex was also built for the 1970 Summit, largely with Yugoslav assistance. Lusaka's reputation as a rambling garden city is also being smartened up. New trees and shrubs are being planted, important buildings repainted, and potholes in main thoroughfares filled in.
Zambia is determined to prove a worthy host to Commonwealth delegates. But this has put a new strain on an economy struggling to overcome a shortage of foreign exchange, basic commodities and raw materials for its industries.
Fleets of cars will provide transportation for officials and the hospitality will be lavish. Sixteen thousand bottles of wine and seven thousand bottles of whisky are on the shopping list. But Doctor Kaunda and other government leaders are quick to point out the long-term gains to Zambia. There are also, they say, immediate benefits to be had from the presence of the estimated one thousand visitors.