President Edgar Lungu says diplomats must not think they can dictate what decisions government must make.
And President Lungu says diplomats must stop speaking to the opposition if they genuinely want to help Zambia because government is the one in charge.
Meanwhile, President Lungu has insisted that he cannot stop traveling unless he is incapacitated because Zambia gains a lot from his local and international trips.
Last week, the British Government advised Zambia to declare the hunger situation a national disaster in order to attract more international support.
Speaking when he met Vice President Inonge Wina at her office, British High Commissioner to Zambia Fergus Cochrane Dyet said the hunger situation in some parts of the country was worrying and needed urgent mitigating measures to prevent loss of life.
But when asked to comment on calls to make such a declaration, President Lungu said people would mot ‘stampede’ government into making rushed decisions.
He also invited those who were touched by the hunger situation to make donations.
“The Vice-President has got mechanisms, we all know that the Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit is well placed to know exactly when we can declare the emergency of that magnitude. We don’t want to politicize hunger. Those who are worried about hunger should out of their desire to help others show that they can help. We haven’t stopped anyone who is charitable from coming forth and showing that they can help people. I think that even as government, if someone wants to give us help by saying ‘we can give you 500,000 bags of maize to help the poor, DMMU will know where to take this,” President Lungu said.
“If you think that the people of Kasama are suffering too much and you have been touched, you can go and direct the contribution to them and so forth. So for us, we will not be stampeded into making decisions against the best judgement of our technocrats who know better. I think that there are people who are paid to come and tell us that, at this point now, I think we cannot cope. Even our cooperating partners, we are told are saying things, let them talk to government instead of talking to the opposition. We are in charge of the country. If you want to give help to the Zambian government, you don’t go to the opposition, you go to government. So those who are instigating lawlessness by trying to stampede government to get into a decision without thinking through, we’ll make a decision when we have interrogated all aspects of it because that’s what we are paid for.”
And when asked to justify his frequent travels, President Lungu said he wouldn’t stop unless he was incapacitated.
“What trouble have you found in my movements? Haven’t you seen what we have discovered through this? Weren’t we together that time when we discovered that the Zambia Police infrastructure was incomplete and there was no elevator and other things? Think please, so who is better? Someone who is touring and someone who doesn’t move? So you are the people who move with us, you are the eyes of the people, you should be explaining for us. I cannot sit at home if there is work to do. If everything is fine, I can sit at home because right now I am supposed to go for a SADC meeting in Tanzania and I cannot delegate when other countries are meeting at Head of State level, unless I am incapacitated. I have a trip which was arranged two years ago, I am supposed to go to India, the Indian government is ready, but I should not go because someone is complaining? You heard the man of God in church, people will always talk but I should approach these matters with the noble objective that is this worth doing? I am not running away from home, but I would love to be home with my grandchildren and my wife and everybody else but if duty calls, I have to go,” he said.
“What I am finding [when I travel] is that development is being delivered to the people and some people were lied to, so we are explaining to them the truth and the truth is better when you hear it on your own. I like to come when they are problems because the people can say ‘you don’t come quick enough’ and when I come, I find that things are moving faster when I visit places. When people hear that I am coming, without hesitation, they get focussed and they sweep, they mop, it is happening. So those who are complaining, if they have something sensible, we will meet them.”
On absentee members of parliament, President Lungu said there was need for a provision to recall lazy MPs.
“You see, our system is such that when you are given a mandate, it is five years, whether you are President or MP, unless you resign. What I would have loved is a system where people are answerable to the electorate and the electorate should have a right to recall, only the President is liable to impeachment, MPs are not, so I tend to think that there has to be mechanisms which will help people maintain a check and a watch in a way of an oversight mechanism so that those who are not working can be recalled and abandoned and new ones should come in,” said President Lungu.
“Right now they’re talking about NDF resolutions for example and Constitutional Amendment Bill which is coming into Parliament but I think very few members of parliament have gone back to their constituencies to ask what their views are on the proposals which came by way of resolutions from the NDF. A good messenger goes back to the people who delegated him and enquires from them what they expect him to do.”