PRESIDENT Edgar Lungu yesterday took time to campaign for Bill 10, telling Southern Province traditional leaders that it would give UPND a 30-day window in which to petition the presidential election instead of the current 14-day period.

And President Lungu has asked traditional leaders to respect his prerogative of appointing District Commissioners.

Speaking to headmen in Southern Province, Saturday, President Lungu highlighted some of the benefits of Bill 10.

“One of the things I can tell you is that after the elections in 2016, the UPND took a petition to the Constitutional Court of Zambia in Lusaka and they were given 14 days in which to prove their case and they complained that the period was too short, they failed to make their case and the case was lost. Now they’ve been saying they want more days in case there is loss again. So under Bill 10, you will be given 30 days, is there anything wrong with that? In Bill 10, we are saying that all the people who are disadvantaged, the youths, the women… we should give them potions. For example, if you get 40 per cent of votes, we allow 40 per cent of youths, 40 per cent of women so that they also have representation in Parliament. We have the blind, the dumb, and the disabled who ordinarily cannot compete to be in Parliament,” the President said.

“So people should not mislead you by saying Bill 10 is intended to make the ruling party stay in power forever or to make PF win elections, no it’s not intended for that, it is intended to cure the deficiencies in the Constitution as currently existing. The only way we can resolve differences in the Constitution is by having our members of parliament sit down and discussing these challenges and make new laws. So if your MP is going to walk out at a critical point of Bill 10 then you are going to lose out on your views to be brought on board in the new amendment.”

President Lungu insisted that Bill 10 would also help avoid leadership wrangles in chiefdoms.

“We have been told that chiefs will be determined by culture and tradition. But culture and tradition has brought so many chiefs now. So what we are saying is that let us remove this law which is very unclear and grey in the Constitution and find a law which will make us certain of how chiefs are chosen so that we get to know who is a chief because currently, even the House of Chiefs has not helped us. So we need to change the current Constitution in terms of Article 165 and bring new legislation which will help us know our chiefs so that we recognize them and respect them as such. I don’t see anything wrong with that proposal in Bill 10 myself, unless you tell me so that we interrogate that and see what help you members of parliament can give us,” President Lungu said.

“You may want to ask me why I am wasting so much time on the chiefs and traditional rulers in this country. Chiefs and headmen are all important because without you, we all wouldn’t be gathered here today. All of us have got villages where we came from, we all have a tribe where we come from. So it is you who determine the future of this country. So don’t be surprised to see in government that we have a Ministry of Chiefs and Traditional Affairs, it’s because we have a high premium on you. As far as we are concerned, you are our partners in governance. For that reason, I would encourage you to talk to your area members of parliament to talk to us about the needs of the community without fear or favour regardless of the political party on which you voted them.”

And President Lungu asked traditional leaders to stop interfering with his prerogative of appointment people to leadership positions.

“Let’s not worry about these things because it’s the President who appoints people and I look at the best interest of the people who are being served. And what we need to know is that the appointment is a prerogative of the President and I consider the best interest of the people to be served. And I will tell you that I don’t look at tribe, I consider extensively before I make these appointments, I even pray over it for a week sometimes. I can tell you this because all the appointment I have made in my life as President have been questioned by one person all another, no one had been 100 per cent. Even you as headmen not everyone accepted you. But because of your commitment, even when you know that this person does not like me because you are one people. So please respect my prerogative to appoint people because in a district, I only appoint one person to be DC, the Mayor is yours you elect, the MP is yours you elect. But me the law has only allowed me to appoint only one person,” President Lungu said.

Meanwhile, President Lungu told the headmen that their members of parliament did not want to tell the government about their challenges because they wanted them to continue suffering.

“You see what will happen is that we will fail to deliver to your area because your MP has not told us your needs and his mind he thinks that we will fail and people won’t vote for us in 2021. But elsewhere, we are delivering services and we will come back [in 2021] and suffering in your area will continue. If I can tell you one thing, these MPs when they are in Lusaka, they sit with my ministers, they sit with PF members and they drink together and they are friends. But they won’t talk about you because they want you to suffer so that you don’t vote for us. So for me, I am interested because my Constituency is not only Lusaka, my Constituency is the whole Zambia, all of you are my Constituency. For that reason, I was very upset when I heard on radio in Chama when the leader of UPND was telling the people in Chama that ‘Lungu is wasting time talking to people in Southern Province, North Western and Western instead of working for you that voted for him…’ I was very upset because that was very unfair,” said President Lungu.

“I want to promise you that I will continue working with you as traditional leaders and I am glad that through Chief Chikanta, I have been able to work. So I don’t care if the MP doesn’t want to work with me but you people as headmen and your chiefs, you should work with me so that we deliver development to the people. So I want to assure you that my constituency is all corners of Zambia and therefore, I will not be destructed by those talking regional and tribal politics.”

President Lungu is in Southern Province for a two-day working visit. He began his tour this morning by officially launching the construction of the Mosi-oa-Tunya resort in Livingstone .