President Edgar Lungu says government has put several development projects on hold because the resource envelope has depleted.
And President Lungu has insisted that UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema will never be Head of State because his character is not that of a patriot.
Speaking to journalists at Kansanshi Hotel in Solowezi today, President Lungu said Zambia’s resource envelope had depleted.
“I am President of the Republic or Zambia and my duty is to develop Zambia across its breadth and width. There should be no problem about that. And Zambia is not Kitwe, Ndola or Lusaka, Zambia is the whole component from North, East, South, West, so we’ll continue but right now we have scaled down, not because of anything else but the resource envelop has depleted,” President Lungu said.
“You know, we were very ambitious when we started but we are playing 90 minutes. The first 15 minutes you play full burst but you run out of steam and half way, you just hold oh in the game until you have enough energy. So we are restricting some of the projects so that we’re able to meet them. Like the roads for example, some of the roads we intended to have them tar marked but we may have to just do gravel for a while, to make them passable and maintain them over a period and when we have resources, put tar mark on them. We are not letting anything go, but we will continue with development. The story is that no Zambian will be left behind, for whatever reason. Whether you voted black or red or green or blue, you are Zambian, you are entitled to development. The benefit that lies in this region will benefit all of us.”
And President Lungu insisted that Hichilema would never be Head of State.
He also said it was unfair for people to crucify him for responding to tribal sentiments.
“I must explain that in the same spirit I was explaining that there is no need for tribe for one to become a President and that’s why I said that the current UPND leader cannot become President and it was distorted that I said ‘Tongas will never be President’, I never said that. What I said was that ‘tribe is not going to be a factor for anyone to ascend to the Office of the President in this country because we have seen it doesn’t work. And I even further clarified, I said ‘look, I know there is a guy who wants to be President from the opposition, namely UPND and I said ‘not him, but any other person from the region could become President’. That guy’s character is not national or patriotic and that’s what I said. But I get disappointed when chiefs and other people who have the capacity to read and write, analyse issues begin to say Lungu said this, Lungu said that. Anyway, I am told when you have a big head, you can’t miss being hit,” President Lungu complained.
“So I get upset when people begin talking about tribe as a factor. And when people begin talking about tribe as a factor, I have a right to allude to what has been said. And I am not a stranger to this talk because we were in the PF/UPND pact and one of the reasons which led to the crash of that pact was the other guy was saying ‘you don’t want me to be President just because I am Tonga’. And those were the sentiments coming from our friend the leader of the opposition in UPND. At the time, Mr Sata was telling him ‘let me be President, you are young, you’ll have time, and you can be my vice, we will Work together’ but the sentiments which were coming were that ‘you don’t want me to be President because I am Tonga’. With such sentiments, if I am going to comment, I shouldn’t allude to tribe? And then I should be put on the cross and crucified because I am talking tribe? If for example I say ‘this guy is Bemba but he can’t be President. Any other Bemba can be President but not this particular Bemba, I should be crucified as attacking the Bemba? It is not fair. But the truth is that tribe is there but it is not a factor anyway. But when people use it as a factor and create problems for our people, we are duty bound to denounce it, and that’s what we are doing.”
He also condemned the conflict between the Lundas and the Luvales.
“On the political front, what is worrying is the tribal conflict we are witnessing in Zambezi district which as you know very well started with the delimitation exercise. The delimitation exercise was premised on the desire by the Electoral Commission to demarcate one constituency to be called Zambezi Central which would encompass Zambezi West, Zambezi East and I think cut out some portions but we are informed that one tribal grouping don’t want to mix with the others. [They say that] we’d like to have our own constituency and there was a drama between chiefs by way of media reports but that has saddened me more because when we are in Lusaka, I see the Luvales as Zambians, I see the Lundas as Zambians and we work together in government and some are very senior. But to come here and find that some of them are trying to create a tribal war because they want political power, it is very unacceptable. That’s why I am appealing to the church and traditional leaders both privately and publicly, I am telling them that ‘help us bring peace between the Lundas and Luvales of Zambezi district’ because there’s only one President at a time, there’ll only be one MP at a time and the President can be from any tribe,” said President Lungu.