IF PRESIDENT Edgar Lungu will not be available, then I am also not available for politics, says Tourism and Arts Minister Ronald Chitotela.

And Chitotela says he doesn’t believe Health Minister Dr Chitalu Chilufya contradicts President Edgar Lungu’s COVID-19 guidance because he is a “faithful servant”.

Meanwhile, Chitotela said the President’s directive to open lodges and hotels in Livingstone has been welcomed by all the operators.

Speaking when he appeared on MUVI TV’s The Assignment program, Sunday, Chitotela said he would only be available for politics if President Lungu remained the president of the party.

“I am not intending to contest under PF presidency. I have said clearly, even under my carpet that me I believe where I am coming from because I am not a subject even where I am coming from. So if President Lungu will not be available, then I am not available for politics. I have not spoken this to the public but you can check 10 years from now, you will be able to mark my words. If President Lungu will not be available, then I have no ambition of becoming the President. I have consulted this from the church and because there
were some situations that could have forced me to abandon my political life but I was told not to do so looking at the relationship I have with President Lungu and the church told me that I can’t embarrass him and I said ‘okay, I am going to hang on but in an event that the President is not available then, I am not available too,” Chitotela said.

And Chitotela said there was no contradiction between President Lungu and Dr Chilufya when it came to giving direction on COVID-19.

“…Remember in Livingstone we said…A president aka Kamba, osa kambulula (when the President speaks, don’t twist his words to suit yourseld) …When the Presidents speaks, it becomes a policy and we must begin to implement the Presidential direction. He is superintending over the affairs of this country and so he must balance between health and economic activities and if we don’t, then we will find ourselves in a situation where we will find ourselves in a deeper position than where we are now as we fight this COVID-19. The President gave a clear direction that as we open, let’s continue observing the new normal by observing social distancing, masking up, washing our hands and there is no contradiction to what he said. President Lungu gave a policy direction and I don’t think that there is a contradiction between the President and my brother Dr Chilufya,” he said.

“Remember, Minister of Health is an appointee of the President and I know he is a very faithful servant, he has served the President to the best of his ability and so when the President speaks, we must be able to implement what the master is saying. So I don’t think there is any contradiction maybe you ask Hon Chilufya if he is contradicting with the President when he said stay home.”

Meanwhile, Chitotela said the President’s directive to open lodges and
hotels in Livingstone had been welcomed by all the operators.

“We will continue under the new normal to operate even if we record any case of COVID-19 in Livingstone. COVID-19 is in Lusaka and we have seen restaurant operating. So I pray that Livingstone continues to remain COVID-19 free. But we shall continue the operations even when we record the cases. By the way, the people are happy with the President’s direction that hotels and lodges should be open. I keep on receiving calls applauding the President for what he did,” Chitotela said.

He said indications were that a quarter of employees in the tourism sector had lost their jobs since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

“No country on earth prepared for COVID-19 because as you may be aware
it is a new disease. Zambia as a country that never prepared for it, travel and tourism industry has been highly affected globally. Tourism sector in Zambia is the second employer, from agriculture, we employ direct jobs in excess of 300, 000 jobs both in lodges and hotels. I am grateful to a number of operators in the country who have vowed not to lose their employees though we have seen a number of employees sent on forced leave, others sent on unpaid leave while others sent on leave where they are just getting basic salary. We are still collecting the data but I can say maybe quarter of the workers in the sector have
lost their job and ministry will this week call for meeting and before the end of May, we will be able to inform the nation on the actual number of people that have lost their job,” said Chitotela.