SOME people will tell you that we are working hard because elections are around the corner but we have been working from 2011, says President Edgar Lungu.

And President Lungu has asked the clergy to pray for stubborn characters who say there will be bloodshed if they don’t win elections.

Speaking when he met Royal Highnesses, Chief Mukobela, Chief Machila, Chief Mungaila and Senior Chief Nalubamba’s representative in Namwala district, Southern Province, Friday, President Lungu said it wasn’t the looming election which was making government work.

“If we say no we will come and do it tomorrow, some people want it done today. If you don’t do it, they won’t vote for you but even if you don’t vote for us or you vote for us, we are in government and we have responsibility to do the work. And even after elections, we will continue working. Works have got no links with electioneering. Some people will tell you that we are working hard because elections are around the corner but we have been working from 2011. I can show you what we have been doing in 2016, 2017, we are working every other day. Even the roads we have started on that road from Monze cannot be completed overnight. Somebody was saying ‘no we will finish it before elections’ I said where? It can’t happen but we are continuing with our work. People who want to buy cattle here cannot come because of poor roads so we have a responsibility when we say we want to improve the economy to do the infrastructure which is necessary to support the economic prospects that we have,” President Lungu said.

President Lungu asked chiefs to understand if their roads had not been tarred yet.

“We have got a robust programme to make sure that the country is connected, all districts connect to one another through road networks and also through communication by way of ICT. So we are putting towers countrywide and I am glad that there is this complaint. There is no complaint here. I am sure communication wise you are able to connect to each chiefdom and beyond. What we need to do is work on these roads, feeder roads and ensure that the tarred roads are upgraded to a level where they are passable. In this respect, let me also reiterate what we said earlier on that we will continue working on infrastructure countrywide and because of lack of resources in some cases where we said we will do tarmac roads, we will reduce it to gravel which will be able to take vehicles throughout the year until we find enough money to do tarmacs,” President Lungu said.

“Don’t be harsh with us when you see that the road which was supposed to be tarred is not tarred, we will just gravel it to a certain level. It is because of paucity of resources but when money becomes available, we will bring tarmacs and ensure that the roads are ready. But be mindful, development never ends even if we put a tarred road they will say widen the roads, when we finish widening the roads, they will say we want double lanes so it’s an ongoing process. Let me guarantee that we will keep working with you. It is our responsibility. We cannot pass it on or blame anybody but we should be free enough to compare with what our forefathers did.”

President Lungu advised chiefs to tell any politician lobbying for votes that they would only talk to them after they build a palace.

“Other issues you have raised your Royal highnesses are familiar to us, the issue of palaces, the need of palaces amongst our traditional leaders. It is an ongoing programme. But I am glad that some are helping us in this respect by pledging to build, this is how it should be. I have always been saying that citizens as subjects of these traditional leaders where we are governed by chiefs should come to the fore and help us look into the welfare of the Royal highnesses. Motor vehicles, palaces, farming implements, it is our responsibility as citizens. This programme is costly but it’s ongoing and citizens don’t want to help us with the exception of Mr Mutale, others just come to you when they want votes and they will be coming very soon but probably when they come, be telling them that first build a palace then we will talk to you. Because it is our responsibility,” President Lungu said.

He said the economy could not be improved with ignorant and uneducated people.

“You talked about schools, I think schools are very important. I talked about it yesterday. You can’t improve the economy with ignorant people, uneducated people, it is very difficult to do anything with a mind that is not enlightened. So through education, we are able to enlighten our people in agriculture, we are able to enlighten our people in health, having to keep themselves from COVID, not only COVID, malaria, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and all these other problems so in the process you find that the bill that we take to the health sector is reduced. Early pregnancies and early marriages, all these things which we consider vices can be fought by having an educated population. So therefore, we need to upgrade the quality of education in rural areas,” he said.

And speaking when he met the clergy earlier, President Lungu emphasized that the clergy should pray for politicians.

“You have emphasized what we already know that the church will pray for us. I responded by saying thank you so much for that. I also urge you to counsel us and tell us that this is wrong from time to time. That is your prophetic role as the church and we respect that. But please continue preaching peace as we go to the elections in 2021 and this is a serious request because some people are saying if I don’t win, there will be bloodshed. But God forbid there will be no bloodshed because Zambia is a peaceful nation and we seek the grace of God to intervene,” said President Lungu.

Meanwhile, President Lungu hoped his colleagues would emulate him by remaining humble when they assumed high offices.