Muyeba Chikonde’s Freedom of the City of London ‘Award’ Is A Joke

A story in various media outlets suggests Muyeba Chikonde, Zambia’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, has foolishly accepted the Freedom of the City of London. The unsavoury character of some of those given the Freedom of the City has been noted in one of our previous posts, so Muyeba Chikonde now finds himself in the company of paedophiles and disgraced politicians. The coverage we’ve seen in the Zambian media suggests the story is based on a press release issued by the Zambian High Commission in the United Kingdom. However Google search results label some of this coverage ‘satire’. While getting the Freedom of the City of London is a joke, we think it likely Chikonde really did receive this ‘award’ on Monday 10 December 2018.


The last time we spotted a Freedom of the City of London award being featured on the news/press section of this council’s website was back in the summer when Bank of China CEO Sun Yu got one. Earlier this month Chinese ambassador Liu Xiaoming was also given the Freedom of the City. Sun Yu was presented with his award by last year’s Lord Mayor Charles Bowman, while Liu Xiaoming was disgraced by the newly installed Lord Mayor Peter Estlin pressing his flesh. The head of the Common Council Catherine McGuinness also turned up for Liu Xiaoming’s award. We haven’t been able to determine if McGuinness was around when Sun Yu was disrespected. Graphically illustrating the different treatment China and African nations get from the City, Zambia’s High Commissioner seems to have had the City Remembrancer as the highest-ranking official at his ceremony – the Lord Mayor and head of the Common Council presumably being too busy or too grand to bother with him. Regardless here’s the Zambian High Commission’s press release about Muyeba Chikonde’s ‘award’.

Zambia’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom His Excellency Mr. Muyeba Chikonde has been bestowed with the Freedom of the City of London, becoming an honorary citizen of the City. He has been honoured for his contribution to Diplomacy.

Freedom of the City is the highest honour that the City of London can bestow. It is given to individuals who have made a significant impact in their field. This includes Politicians, Diplomats, the Clergy, Actors, Sportsmen and Musicians, among others.

The presentation ceremony took place in the Chamberlain’s Court of the historical Guildhall building. In attendance was the Remembrancer of the City of London, Paul Double, whose traditional role dates as far back as 1571 of being the channel of communications between the Lord Mayor and the City of London, on the one hand and the Sovereign, royal household and Parliament on the other.

The award is also a demonstration of the existing good relations between Zambia and the United Kingdom. Since his appointment, High Commissioner Chikonde has facilitated several high profile visits, among them by the Lord Mayors of the City of London to strengthen business ties between Zambia and the UK.

In February 2016, The Lord Mayor of the City of London, Jeffrey Mountevans, led a business delegation to Zambia in order to strengthen bilateral trade between the two countries.

And in February 2017, The Lord Mayor of the City of London, Alderman Dr. Andrew Parmley visited Zambia. The Lord Mayor’s visit marked the start of a new collaborative campaign by the UK’s financial and professional services sector to build relations with international partners as part of a Commonwealth expansion programme.

Zambia and the UK have both benefitted from strong relationships bilaterally, which have deepened in recent years.

High Commissioner Chikonde joins world leaders including; Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Late Princess Diana, former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, The Queen, Actor, Morgan Freeman, Florence Nightingale, General Eisenhower and former American President Theodore Roosevelt and High Commissioner Anderson Chibwa among others.

The Freedom of the City of London is an honour conferred by London City Corporation upon a valued member of the community, a visiting celebrity or dignitary. The City invites individuals who have made a significant impact in their field to take up the Freedom to acknowledge their particular contribution. The Freedom of the City of London dates back to 1237 where beneficiaries were able to undertake trade in the city.

Though, some of the traditional privileges associated with the Freedom, such as driving sheep over London Bridge, are not commonly practiced presently, the Freedom has maintained many other privileges in addition to providing the receiver a link with the historic City of London and one of its antique traditions.

High Commissioner Chikonde honoured with Freedom of City of London award, attributed to a press release by Abigail Chaponda, First Secretary Press and Public Relations, Zambia High Commission in the United Kingdom reproduced in Lusaka Times, 12 December 2018. Here via Internet Archive:

We certainly wouldn’t feel honoured to be awarded the Freedom of the City of London; the Zambian High Commission press release fails to point out that any City of London resident can go through a simple application process to obtain it, but most wouldn’t want to dirty themselves by joining the unsavory company that hold it. It is an utter disgrace that in order to stand for election as a councillor to this local authority one has to accept this demeaning ‘award’. The City of London is the capstone in the world’s tax haven and money laundering system and so it is hardly surprising that it’s Freedom has been bestowed upon paedophiles like Keith Harding, and disgraced politicians like Ian Paisley Jr and Aung San Suu Kyi!



The header shows Zambia’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Mr. Muyeba Chikonde (R), receiving the dishonour of the Freedom of the City of London from Paul Double – the City’s Parliamentary lobbyist who has the absurd title of Remembrancer – at the Guildhall on Monday, December, 10, 2018. Picture by Abigail Chaponda

Chinese ambassador to the UK Liu Xiaoming (centre) receiving Freedom of the City of London with Catherine McGuinness (left) and Peter Estlin (right).

Speech by Chinese ambassador to the UK Liu Xiaoming at his Freedom of the City of London ceremony below.

I would like to begin by expressing my appreciation to the City of London Corporation for bestowing upon me the honour of the Freedom of the City.

I also wish to thank all of you who are present today for joining me on this significant occasion.

Being a “Freeman” is an extremely high honour. My British friends told me that two hundred years ago, being a Freeman would have given me the privilege to “carry a naked sword in public” or “drive sheep over London Bridge”.

Today, it is still a great privilege to be a City Freeman. The City of London is such an extraordinary institution. My summary of the City’s status is as simple as one, two, three, four: In a space of one square mile, the City hosts two thousand financial institutions, contributes to three percent of the UK’s GDP and manages four trillion US dollars of assets.

I cherish this honour of the Freeman.

I believe it is a recognition of the work of not just myself but the Chinese Embassy.

It demonstrates the importance that the City of London attaches to China-UK financial cooperation.

And it embodies the friendship between the people of our two countries.

In nearly nine years as the Chinese Ambassador to the UK, I have visited the City of London numerous times. Each time, I was impressed by its profound strength and exhilarating dynamism. Each time, I could sense the enormous potential and broad prospects of China-UK financial cooperation.

Such cooperation has contributed to at least three important records in our bilateral relations.

First, it has achieved the greatest number of “first’s”.

The UK was the first major Western country to apply to join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), the first to contribute to the AIIB special fund, and the first to sign the Guiding Principles on Financing the Development of the Belt and Road with China.

The UK is also the first Western country to issue RMB sovereign bond. It is only natural that London becomes the world’s largest RMB offshore trading centre and the second largest RMB offshore clearing centre.

It was in London that the Bank of China issued the first Green Covered Bond in 2016.

It was at the London Stock Exchange that the Ministry of Finance of China made its first overseas issuance of RMB sovereign bond of three billion yuan.

These “first’s” demonstrate the vitality of China-UK financial cooperation. They also emphasise the leading role of the financial sector in the business cooperation between our two countries.

Second, of all sectors, China-UK cooperation in financial service has been most productive.

This year marks the tenth anniversary of the launch of the China-UK Economic and Financial Dialogue. After ten years of strenuous efforts on both sides, EFD has become an important platform for our two countries to enhance macro policy coordination and match development strategies in the financial sector. Of the 72 outcomes of last year’s EFD, more than half are related to financial services.

As of today, seven Chinese banks, including the top five state-owned commercial banks, have set up branches in London. Six of the branches were opened during my tenure as the Chinese Ambassador to the UK. The only exception, the Bank of China London Branch, was established in 1929, well before I was born.

Other Chinese financial institutions, including China Re, PICC and China Taiping Insurance Group, have also set up branches in London. Moreover, the Bank of China has opened the Private Banking Service Centre in London, which is the first of its kind outside Asia.

By opening these branches, the Chinese financial institutions have cast their vote of support and confidence for the City of London as Britain leaves the EU.

Third, China-UK financial cooperation has the most extensive and far-reaching significance.

Such significance has gone far beyond the bilateral scope.

China and the UK have established the G20 Green Finance Study Group.

We have issued the China-UK Strategic Plan for Financial Services.

And we helped launch the China-UK Financial Services Summit led by the private sector.

Through these efforts, our two countries are not only engaged in more comprehensive and strategic bilateral cooperation. We are also taking the lead in international cooperation in the financial sector

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Freedom award is an honour. This honour is based on trust. This honour imparts confidence.

Today, I want to share this honour with you. I also want to share with you my confidence in China-UK cooperation. My confidence comes from the following three aspects:

First, I have confidence in deeper reform and further opening up in China.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of China’s reform and opening up. President Xi Jinping has reiterated on many occasions that China will not close its door; instead, it will open its door even wider to the world.

The financial sector will be a key area for opening up in the next stage. China will significantly increase access to its financial market. We will work with the UK to accelerate the preparations for the Shanghai-London Stock Connect.

Deeper reform and further opening up will create more business opportunities for China-UK financial cooperation at a higher level and in a wider scope.

Second, I have confidence in China-UK cooperation on the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

This year marks the fifth anniversary of the BRI. In the past five years, the BRI has adhered to dialogue and consultation, invited all partners to pitch in, shared the benefits of win-win cooperation, pursued cultural exchanges and mutual learning, and showed a new direction for sustainable development in the world.

Reproduced from Speech by Ambassador Liu Xiaoming, China Daily, 4 December 2018 at Internet Archive:

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