CHINESE Ambassador to Zambia Li Jie says China will consider cancelling interest on Zambia’s debt to that country maturing by the end of 2020 as a way of cushioning the impact of Covid-19 on the African copper producer.
And President Edgar Lungu has assured the people of Southern Province that he will continue working for them despite opposition UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema, who is more popular in the region, making a mockery out of government’s development efforts.
Speaking when the Head of State handed over housing units to the Zambia Police Service in Mazabuka district of Southern Province, Saturday, Jie announced that China would consider cancelling interest on Zambia’s Chinese loans and would further consider extending the debt repayment period in order to help the country recover from the economic challenges brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Jie also said Zambia would be one of the first countries to benefit from the Covid-19 vaccine once found by China.
“China and Zambia are now facing a severe challenge; the Covid-19 pandemic has brought about tremendous challenges to our public health and to our economy. But our two countries have been very united in combating this common enemy. China will always remember the invariable support Zambia gave to us in the past. And to cushion the impact of COVID-19, it is important that we conduct even more closer cooperation and consultation. On our part as China, we will continue to do whatever we can to support Zambia to combat Covid-19 by providing medical supplies; sending medical expertise and we hope that once the medical vaccine for Covid-19 is found in China, Zambia will be among the first countries to benefit,” said Jie.
“We will also consider canceling the debt of Zambia to China in the form of interest free payment of loans that are to mature by the end of 2020. We will further extend the period of debt suspension for Zambia from May 31st to the end of 2020 to help Zambia during this period of the COVID-19 pandemic. We will work tirelessly with the Zambian government in fostering development.”
Jie accompanied President Lungu to Monze where he commissioned and handed over modern Chinese-built housing units to the Zambia Correctional Service under the Ministry of Home Affairs before proceeding to visit the construction site for the Holy Trinity Cathedral and handing over the land title deed to the church leaders in the district.
During the handover ceremony, President Lungu said he would not be destructed by remarks such as those coming from Hichilema because he had the mandate to develop the country.
“We are in these positions not for personal gain but to save the people of this country, including you in Southern Province. I will continue doing so as your President even when the leader of UPND (Hakainde Hichilema) goes into my strongholds and mocks me by telling the people that I am wasting time in Southern Province. I am told I will not be able to deliver in Northern Province where they voted for me because I am spending most of my time in Southern Province. But I will ignore those remarks because politically I am being built. I will continue working as a leader and as a parent of Zambia for all Zambians,” President Lungu said.
The Head of State also said the government would look into the housing needs of other civil servants like teachers and doctors in the future.
“Teachers, health workers and all of us by definition are entitled to housing as a right and government will ensure that we all have access to decent housing. But we had to start from somewhere and we chose to start with our colleagues in the Ministry of Home Affairs because they were the most neglected. I am sure that the Ministry of Housing and Infrastructure is on top of things to make available housing to all of us,” said President Lungu.
And Home Affairs Minister Stephen Kampyongo encouraged the occupants of the new housing units to continue working hard, saying officers who maintained law and order deserved to be motivated.