They can withdraw their aid if they want but they can never withdraw our dignity, President Edgar Lungu said yesterday in apparent reference to diplomats accredited to Zambia who are pressing the government to release UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema.

Speaking to journalists after he visited Kala 48 Marine Barrack in Kawambwa yesterday, President Lungu lamented that economic dependency made the country vulnerable.

“Now they want come and regulate our governance. They want to tell us who to arrest, who to prosecute, what matters our courts should preside over; that we cannot allow. Because of our economic dependency, people now think they can tell the Army Commander what he can and cannot do, what I can and cannot do. They want to tell the OP what to do! No, ‘we will withdraw aid’, they can withdraw Aid if they want but they would never withdraw our dignity and liberty and as long as we have that, we will struggle to achieve economic freedom. We will do so by getting our Army to do the right thing; to become more productive, to defend and serve. And that is just an example,” President Lungu said.

“For some time, we have become too used to handouts and this only lead to oppression. We now have people who think they should own Zambia because we shouldn’t be going out begging and asking for help. Let us look to ourselves. When you fly over this country and you see the beauty, the water, and the available land to feed ourselves, why should we be importing vegetables when we can feed ourselves? No one will respect us if we become economically dependent on outsiders. That is why now they even want to interfere in our political dispensation. Now, they want to start telling us what to do and what not! We are politically strong and free just not economically.”

He also said; “If you are unable to pay your house rent and decide to rely on your neighbour, he will come and attempt to adjudicate over an argument between you and your wife. Who gave him the right? And this is exactly what is happening to some African countries but should never happen to Zambia. Let us work to strengthen our economy and this I can promise you, we will.”

President Lungu urged people to work hard.

“There is a lot of us who come from a humble background but have a story to tell because certain programs initiated by Dr. Kenneth Kaunda were robust enough to accommodate handouts. But in this era, we must inculcate values in our people. Values that should now be responsible in getting the very best out of them and contribute to our way of life. The Army here in working. They are into construction, they are keeping animals and growing vegetables. They are raring chickens and at the end of the day, they minimize the outflow of income in their homes. The same should apply in our homes; we should have a small garden in our back yard growing Tomatoes, vegetables, Onions. We should keep Chickens and for some, even Goats. The ideas is to feed ourselves first and sale the surplus,” said President Lungu.