PRESIDENT Edgar Lungu says there is no denying that the country’s economy is biting, but promises that it will grow due to the sacrifices which government is making.

Speaking when he opened the PF Northern Province conference, Saturday, President Lungu said people shouldn’t listen to those who have never run government before, arguing that “the devil you know is better”.

“There is no denying that the economy is biting. People are struggling to put food on the table. And the COVID-19 pandemic has further slowed economic growth. But Northern Province; we have been through worse challenges throughout our history. Yet because of our resilience, determination, and hard work, we have turned around our fortunes. Northern Province; the economy will rebound soon and the sacrifice we make today will be rewarded tomorrow. Do not listen to naysayers and prophets of doom, they have never run government before; yet they speak with great authority and confidence. We may look humble, but we have seen it all, better the devil you know,” President Lungu said.

“2021 is a significant and crucial year for us as a party and the nation at large. It is a general election year hence the need for us to prepare adequately. This year marks 30 years since multiparty democracy was restored to our nation. Thanks to President Kenneth David Kaunda and all Zambian citizens at the time, Zambia’s political landscape has evolved democratically since. Since then, we have not only had eight general elections, we have had five republican presidents, including myself. It is because of this history that Zambia is seen, the world over, as an example of the success of democracy in Africa.”

President Lungu said despite PF being a pro-poor party, Zambians must not resign to begging as God would punish them for being lazy.

“This year marks 20 years since president Michael Chilufya Sata, founded the Patriotic Front, our party, a pro-poor party. President Sata, throughout his time as a public servant of the people saw the suffering of many Zambian people. He did not just form the Patriotic Front to become President, he formed the Patriotic Front to free the people of hunger and poverty. So, the fact that the Patriotic Front enjoys nationwide support is no coincidence, it is because the Zambian people relate with the party without discomfort. We all feel welcome in this party,” President Lungu said.

“I share president Sata’s dream of putting money in people’s pockets but I also add that this has to come with hard work. All Zambians must work hard. In whatever you do, work hard. Don’t resign yourself to begging. God will punish you for being lazy. So let us all work hard for mother Zambia. Integrity and respect will only come if you work hard to feed yourself and your family, those are my values. Those are my beliefs, venture into some business, even if you are not in formal employment, do some farming. The weather is good, do something. My government, on the other hand, is facilitating and helping small-scale farmers and businessmen and women to succeed in their effort.”

President Lungu said the continued infrastructure development being rolled out by the PF had put money in people’s pockets.

“For us to create an enabling environment in which our people realise their dreams, the Patriotic Front government subsequently embarked on a robust agenda of nationwide infrastructure development. The sudden demise of president Sata will linger in our memories forever. He was a man of unbelievable talents and a wealth of knowledge. I learnt a lot from this great man and I will forever remain indebted. But president Sata’s dream has not died. President Sata must be proud of what we have achieved since his passing,” President Lungu said.

“The schools, universities, hospitals, roads, bridges, malls, that we have built have not just transformed the image of Zambia. They have simplified lives for our people. This is what president Sata meant when he said more money in people’s offices. Where we were taking a day to reach our destination, we now spend half the time. Where are children could not find a place in schools, colleges, and universities, they now have places. Where lives were being lost because of lack of health centres, we now have hospitals and lives have been saved. We are headed for actualising vision 2030.”

He reiterated that the PF still remained people’s party of choice.

“We continue to grow and expand our party based on the strong foundation of what we have done. It is a foundation rooted in the people. It is a legacy that carries with it a heavy sense of responsibility on anyone who belongs to the Patriotic Front. We will not allow challenges to overwhelm us; to prevent us from actualising our mandate to the people of Zambia. We are unstoppable in our quest to create a better life for all Zambians, irrespective of gender, tribe, status, race or religion,” said President Lungu.

“In the last 20 years, the Patriotic Front has endeavoured to uphold fundamental democratic principles as a hallmark of our party. It is, therefore, no coincidence that the Patriotic Front remains the people’s political party of choice. We remain a grassroot movement of the people and we draw our strength from this. The people are Patriotic Front and the Patriotic Front is the people. On this score, I wish to implore all Patriotic Front members to exhibit exemplary conduct.”