President Edgar Lungu says the country has no choice but to increase electricity tariffs “otherwise Zambia’s economy will completely collapse”.

Speaking during the May Day national event in Lusaka today, the Head of State said the upward increase in electricity tariffs was aimed at addressing the economic challenges the country was facing.

“The need for us to increase electricity tariffs cannot be compromised or negotiated. I am afraid, if it means you voting me out in 2021, please do so. I will not make decisions just to keep myself in office because there is life beyond my term of office,” President Lungu said.

And the President wondered why critics were asking him to be tolerant while ignoring provocations from the other political parties.

“You talk about political tension in the country, if only there was dialogue in the political arena of the country we would have been better than we are. This is because that by telling me to be reasonable, telling me to dialogue, telling me to be tolerate they get somewhere, we can not get somewhere like that, tell the other guys also. Everyone who wants to comment on this subject says I should be tolerant and that I should listen, but the other partners in the game are not being told be tolerant. I would be very happy if all those who are telling me to be tolerate can find time to talk to all those others and also respect others because dialogue is for two or four people,” President Lungu said.

“If you are asking for dialogue among stakeholders, I talk to MMD, I talk to all the political parties we listen to each other but only one political party is mischievous and then you are saying that I should find room for dialogue, there is room for dialogue already. Those that want to dialogue in this matter just accept the results wait for 2021 and move on, that’s what is expected. Not to say no, there is tension in the country, I woke up this morning only to be told that Kafue DEBS [office] has been burnt, and you are talking to me about dialogue, what dialogue is there? So I would urge the social dialogue that is growing in the labour movement and employers to be extended to the politicians so that we move on. Otherwise I have not refused to dialogue with anyone, bring a case, tell me let’s meet and talk and I will meet you and we talk.”

And the President said government was working towards improving the conditions and policies of workers in the country in the line with this year’s Labour Day commemorations dubbed “Securing decent work for sustainable socio-economic development”.

And the Head of State promised another 200, 000 jobs annually.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, my Government intend to create, at the minimum, 200, 000 decent jobs on an annual basis for us to attain this goal of higher growth in employment. Government has finalised the seventh national development plan, which is underpinned by appropriate policies and structural reforms to be implemented over the medium term. The plan highlights our priorities, which include, economic diversification and job-creation, reduced poverty and vulnerability, enhanced human development and reduced developmental inequalities.,” President Lungu said.

Meanwhile, Zambia Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) President Chishimba Nkole said Zambia was grappling with unprecedented political violence.

He also cautioned against over dependence on copper mining for economic recovery.

Nkole further called for an end to tribalism, saying it had impacted badly on the country’s economy.

And International Labour Organisations (ILO) Director, Alexis Musindo says Government needs to put in more effort to create employment opportunities for the Zambians.