National Development Planning Minister Alexander Chiteme has echoed calls by other PF officials that all stakeholders willing to dialogue should confirm their recognition of President Edgar Lungu as duly elected Head of State.

And Chiteme explained that government had accumulated huge levels of debt to foster development and improve the wellbeing of the citizens.

Speaking when he officiated at the 2018 Labour Day celebrations in Mbala, Tuesday, Chiteme insisted that the much-anticipated national political dialogue would only take place if all political stakeholders in the country recognised President Lungu as duly elected.

“When you are talking about issues of dialogue, don’t only speak to the government; speak also to other players that are party to that political dialogue. Bwana trade unionist, go and tell the other players that ‘the President of the Republic of Zambia is Edgar Chagwa Lungu, and the dialogue that we need will have to begin with your confirmation that he is the duly elected and sworn in Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces and President of this Republic’,” Chiteme insisted, in a statement issued by Ministry spokesperson, Chibaula Silwamba.

“My President His Excellency Mr. Edgar Chagwa Lungu has extended an olive branch to everyone that was so cynical enough to come to the dialogue table and discuss issues of national importance. But people have refused to recognise him as President of the Republic; people have gone into Parliament to try and impeach my President, they have gone to the international community to disgrace and discredit the Government of the Republic of Zambia, which is led by the Patriotic Front.”

And Chiteme added that government had accumulated huge debt to foster development and improve the wellbeing of the citizens.

“We have seen the developments that have come with that borrowing. There is no country in this world that has developed without borrowing. We have borrowed and used the money to build roads, good hospitals, clinics etc. Up-to this day, Zambia has never defaulted on any of its debt obligation, meaning that our debt is sustainable, and we are going to work very hard to make sure that our people have social amenities to live a decent life,” Chiteme said.

He also advised civil servants to remain non-partisan in the execution of their duties.

“Government workers should not engage in active politics and should remain non-partisan. When you become partisan you expose yourself and liable to a lot of things including being fired from the civil service. Recently, we had Cabinet reshuffles; it’s just like a transfer. If ministers can be transferred, why can’t a government worker be transferred? I want to make that clear because now it is coming out as if government is beginning to victimise people by transferring them,” Chiteme advised.

“When one joins government, you sign to the terms and conditions of your employment with the government. One of those conditions is that the government can, at will, transfer you to any other position and place in Zambia.”

Meanwhile, Chiteme dismissed the trade unions’ assertion that only the formal sector would be making monetary contributions to the National Health Insurance scheme, which was recently signed into law by President Lungu.

He reiterated government’s commitment to provide universal health coverage for all citizens, further pointing out that only greedy people were opposed to the National Health Insurance Bill because they wanted their insurance entities to thrive, while poor people had no access to good health services.