PRESIDENT Edgar Lungu has promised Itezhi-Tezhi residents that he will ask the Electoral Commission of Zambia to extend the voter registration process and source for funds to make that possible.

And President Lungu says the people in Southern Province put him in an awkward position because he continues to take development to that area even though they don’t vote for him.

Speaking to traditional leaders and headmen in Itezhi-Tezhi, Thursday, President Lungu said ECZ was an independent body which controlled its own activities and that government was only responsible for funding the institution.

He, however, promised to ask ECZ to extend the voter registration exercise.

“The issue of voters registration is not the issue for the President of the Republic of Zambia. The President of Zambia just gives money through the treasury to the Electoral Commission of Zambia to do all the works related to voters in this country. The Electoral Commission of Zambia is independent and autonomous and works free from interference from government or political parties. So the only measure we get from you is that you are asking that they should consider extending the period so that more and more people can register. That, I promise you I will do,” President Lungu said.

“What I will do is ask for an extension, they will determine for how long they would want to extend, they will determine what extent they would want to go on and on. But we have the responsibility of looking for money to ensure that they do meet that obligation of extending. I hope that is clear we will let them play their role and we will do our part.”

President Lungu said political parties and other stakeholders should desist from undermining and interfering with the electoral process.

“I would also take advantage of that issue and ask those political parties who have issues to just raise their issues without undermining the whole process. Civil society organizations, stakeholder groups, political parties who are interested in the electoral process should not interfere with the process. They should just make known their concerns,” President Lungu said.

And President Lungu said he was in an awkward position because he continued to deliver development in Southern Province even though its people didn’t vote for him.

He wondered why the traditional leaders in Itezhi-Tezhi did not want to work with government.

“Why don’t you want to work with government? We were together in 2016 here, I gave you your member of parliament, Greyford Monde as Minister of Fisheries and Livestock. You punished him heavily in 2016, you rejected him. You refused honourable Monde in a very dramatic way and the reasons we understand is because he was for PF. He was working with the PF government, you didn’t want him. You knew that UPND does not want to work with government. At that time, it was established countrywide that UPND MPs were not allowed to work with government. Now [Herbert] Shabula continues with the same approach of not wanting to work with government. So at that point, you leave us with no one to work with here,” President Lungu said.

“So despite all that, I and PF continue wanting to work with people throughout the country. So when you complain, remember this history. I am saying this because I want to remind you in case you have forgotten. We are one Zambia one nation but you put me in a very awkward position because when I go to the Northern Province, where I got votes they tell me ‘why do you waste time on those people who didn’t vote for you, when we are here to vote for you and we will vote for you again in 2021’. So that puts me in an awkward position especially when HH himself and his UPND members go to Northern Province and say ‘President Lungu doesn’t love you! He is spending too much time in Southern Province and in other areas where they didn’t vote for him. So if you vote for me in Northern Province I will concentrate on you. I will not waste time on people who will not vote for me’. That clearly is not fair in politics.”

President Lungu called on the traditional leaders to work with government in ensuring development was brought to Itezhi-Tezhi.

“I want to assure you that whatever HH will say to the people in Northern Province or Eastern Province who voted for me, I will not leave any part of this country behind because we belong to one Zambia, one nation. So, I would like to encourage you to work with the DC, the provincial administration and my Ministers, to see what development we can bring here to the people of Itezhi-Tezhi. We are one Zambia one nation and because I am in charge of this country and if I fail, I would have failed not because of anything but because I am just Lazy,” said President Lungu.

“I want to succeed and I want to succeed with you, because I want you to work with me. I am saying this so that I put on record in the future which is coming and you would want to ask me what have you done for us in Itezhi-Tezhi? I want to come and tell you that I have done the road, I want to come and tell you that I have built some schools here, I want to come and tell you that I have developed the hospital. I can only do so if we begin working with us and make it easy for the DC and others in the absence of the area MP to deliver some of these things.”