PRESIDENT Edgar Lungu is not worried by the eligibility case and he is standing in next year’s general election, says Special Assistant to the President for Press and Public Relations Isaac Chipampe.

And Chipampe says Information and Broadcasting Services Minister Dora Siliya was quoted out of context on her remarks to traditional leaders about social cash transfer.

In an interview, Chipampe said President Lungu was not moved by the ongoing national debate surrounding his eligibility ahead of next year’s general election because the period from 2015 to 2016 did not count as a term.

“The President is going to stand, he is going to be the (PF) candidate because he is eligible, he qualifies to stand. This issue was resolved by the court judgement which everyone saw. The matter is closed as everyone is saying. The matter is not in any way related to Bill 10. If you remember very well, in Bill 10 if you check, there is nowhere where there is mention of the President’s eligibility or ineligibility to stand. As far as he is concerned, it is closed. He is not worried in any way, he is going to stand and he is not moved, he is going to stand because that was not a term as the ruling from the ConCourt stated. The 2015 to 2016 (period) was not a term. A term should be at least three years as you know that is what the ruling said and that is what the President is saying. The President did not cover three years between 2015 and 2016,” Chipampe said.

And Chipampe said Siliya clarified that she was lobbying for traditional leaders to have access to the Social Cash Transfer (SCT) rather than trying to defraud government.

“I think the Minister of Information and Broadcasting, Honorable, clarified on Tuesday on that issue that she is not a tribalist as people were portraying her. And also that she did not try to defraud…from what I heard, she was just lobbying for them (traditional leaders) to have access to those donations. She did not in any way try to defraud. And also that she was quoted out of context. I am not trying to speak on her behalf, but that is what she said. So, based on that, it’s better we let this case rest,” said Chipampe.

Last week, when addressing traditional leaders, Siliya advised them to lie that they were poor and vulnerable whenever they faced SCT officers so that they can benefit from the funds to “buy clothes and look smart.”

“I have heard that you traditional leaders don’t benefit from Social Cash Transfer (SCT). We are here to tap about issues that affect our lives, we must not forget. I have heard that you are not benefiting, but the government has said if that was the case, it must not continue. Headmen should be taking social cash transfer as well. So those of you who would like to benefit from SCT, you must go to the DC’s office so that you can be told how to do it. They will ask you questions:

Does your house have iron sheets? Yes

Do you own cattle? Yes

Do you own a bicycle? Yes

How many times do you eat? You say we manage to eat four times a day…,” said Siliya.

“As you are answering the machine is recording. It will say that you are not a poor person and you cannot benefit with such answers. Let me share some wisdom with you: if you want to benefit from Social Cash Transfer, the DC will teach you that even when you live in a house with iron sheets, don’t say the truth so that you can be included on the Social Cash Transfer programme. That way, you can have money to buy shoes and bicycles so that you look presentable. As a government, we know that you traditional leaders have a lot of problems.”