I know that we have promised a lot of things but as politicians, we do not have the power of God to deliver overnight, says President Edgar Lungu.

And President Lungu says chiefs who do not support him should just work with him as it will be up to their subjects to decide if he should be voted back into office in 2021.

Meanwhile, President Lungu says it is unfortunate that opposition members of parliament don’t want to work with his government for fear of being accused of defecting.

Speaking when he met Central Province chiefs, Wednesday, the Head of State asked people to be patient with government in terms of delivery of promises.

“I know that we have promised a lot of things but let me conclude by saying to your royal highnesses, truthfully, that when we promise things, we don’t have the power of God almighty to do them overnight. The power that we have is the power of a human being and the resources available and it does not mean that when we don’t do some projects in one year or two years, we won’t do it, but to do it, we have to plan and consider the resources available,” President Lungu said.

‘I keep giving an example of a young man who married a woman saying that ‘Don’t worry, I will take you to the moon’ yet he has never even flown. But when he marries the wife, he had promised he will buy her a car but then he says first I have to buy myself a bicycle. So eventually, together, you achieve something. Instead of buying a brand new car, he buys a wrist watch of a vehicle the wife has to appreciate that ‘at least mwani gulilako motoka’. Then eventually, as they grow, they will get there, new car, new house and so on. We are like that. We as politicians when we come to you, to talk to you, you should ask us ‘why are you promising all this…we are not fools’. So that we make sure what we promise the people is tenable. What we promise can be done.”

And President Lungu asked chiefs who did not support him to work with him for the sake of the people.

“I have heard some people say that we no longer support President Lungu because he has no regard for the chiefs. Anyway, if you don’t support me now, I will find it very difficult to work with you. The best you can do is just streamline and work with me. In 2021, your communities, your subjects, your people will determine whether I am coming back or not. That’s all I can say on this issue because it is vexing me, why should it be an issue?” he asked.

“And indeed your royal highnesses, privately or publicly, I hear your contributions…you are key to our governance system. When you determine to turn your backs against us, it means that you have closed communication with government and the people. Who loses? It is not me, it is the people and you will also lose in the process.”

He assured traditional leaders that despite claims from certain politicians, he held them in high regard.

“Some people are saying I do not have respect for the royal highnesses, this is coming from some people who are politically motivated to win support by inducing a sense among you that I don’t have regards for you but I want to assure you that I have a lot of respect for you, a lot of regard for you and a lot of time for you. But please don’t allow yourselves to become political. Whether you voted for me, your people supported me, people voted for me and I am here to serve you. But these statements I am getting that I don’t have regards for you are unfounded. I don’t know what you want me to do to show that I have regard for you. I don’t know,” President Lungu said.

Meanwhile, President Lungu lamented that opposition MPs were failing to work with government for fear of being accused of defecting.

“We are finding it difficult, we are working alone as government. Our friends in the opposition don’t want to work with us. The other time we were here, we were launching the planting season on 1st December 2016, an MP from Keembe (Princess Kansune) came with us and we were delighted that we are comrades. She was rebuked, ridiculed and called names and now she can’t even come and contribute. So we are saying politics should have a season for campaigns and after that you start working together and so on. They drink tea together in parliament these parliamentarians but when the President is near, they can’t even go anywhere close. Not necessarily to welcome me but just to participate like you have highlighted the difficulties you are facing,” President Lungu said.

“But when you are seen talking to the Minister of Agriculture, they say you are a bad MP. But why do you send people to parliament? It is to work for you. I think we can do more. Your royal highnesses, challenge your MPs that time for campaign is gone, it is now time to work and you can only work with the President, with DCs and ministers…so I think that we need to work together.”
He said it was illogical to accuse an MP of defecting just because they were seen talking to a minister.

“The way they drink tea in parliament together. We know defecting is the culture, it is the nature of our politics that you can be in PF today, tomorrow you are UPND, we know but if we are seen together, they shouldn’t think that no, you are FDD, you have defected. When we defect, we announce that we have defected. Even those who want to defect to PF, we will receive them. But when you are seen with the Minister of Local Government or the Minister of Agriculture and they say you have defected, that is not good for our people,” said Lungu.