TOURISM Minister Ronald Chitotela says everyone in the region is looking at Zambia as a success story because of proper leadership.

And Chitotela says the Seventh Day Adventist Church, among others, are ready to vote for President Edgar Lungu.

Speaking during a PF Interactive Forum, Sunday, Chitotela said the country was the envy of the region because of how it managed the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Why am I sampling the need why PF is supposed to continue governing under President Lungu? It is because he is a tested leader, he has been tried and he is proven to be a capable leader under difficult circumstances. Under the period of COVID-19, you didn’t sit in Cabinet, you did not see what we were doing. But today, we are the envy of the region. Everybody is looking to Zambia as a success story, a case of Zambia is a success story in terms of management of COVID-19. This is not by accident, this is by proper leadership, measuring, understanding how people live, the living standards of our people and making sure that we bring everybody on board. I would shudder to think what it could have been if the Zambian economy was completely shut down because of COVID-19. I don’t think we could have been here,” he said.

“A lot of people could have even died maybe out of hunger instead of COVID-19. President Lungu took a bold decision and said ‘we shall confront COVID-19 head on, we shall find solutions but we must be able to provide mitigant measures to the Zambian people. Majority Zambian people that depend on hand to mouth’. That is how a leader must be, a leader must feel for the downtrodden in society. Not those that were calling for the shutdown of the Zambian economy, those who wanted to close the borders of Zambia, but today they are the ones who want to jump and be the champions of feeling for the Zambian people. I want to assure you that you know that which you want and the Zambian people want to continue with the leadership of President Lungu.”

He said people who were arguing that the Head of State was not eligible to contest this year’s polls were scared to face him in the election.

Chitotela predicted that President Lungu would have between 60 to 65 percent votes in the coming election.

“President Lungu under PF, 2021, will have between 60 to 65 percent votes. That is why you have seen a lot of people who are scared of him fighting that ‘President Lungu is not eligible.’ The Constitution says ‘a President must be sworn in twice’ that is where they are basing their arguments. Did President Lungu serve for a period of 36 months? No. He served 17 months. The Constitution Court ruled against them that ‘yes he has been elected twice, he has been sworn in twice yes we agree. Let us interpret a term.’ What does a term say? Did he serve 36 months? No. So this provision does not affect him. This noise of President Lungu’s qualification, they know it is just politically motivated and the intention is to disenfranchise President Lungu to those voters who are standing on the fence, who have not made a decision to say ‘if you elect President Lungu again, he will be serving a third term,’” he said.

Chitotela further said Lusaka was the ruling party’s stronghold.

He added that the chiefs, the Church, including his church, SDA, were ready to vote for President Lungu.

“People were saying ‘this year we shall share Lusaka’ then I said which Lusaka are we going to share? Maybe they mean Lusaka beer. Politically, Lusaka is a stronghold for PF. Yes, maybe if they had ten percent they might increase to 15 percent but that doesn’t mean PF will lose in Lusaka and the Copperbelt. As members of the central committee after sitting, we are determined, we shall leave no stone unturned. We shall go out there and speak to the people. The church is ready, the chiefs are ready including my church, the Seventh Day Adventist, are ready to vote for President Edgar Lungu,” Chitotela said.

He said President Lungu was the second sitting President to construct a brand new airport.

“The Patriotic Front under president Edgar Chagwa Lungu, we need to realise that he is the second sitting president in the Republic of Zambia to have constructed a brand new international airport since independence. When we began talking about the fly over bridges in Lusaka, it was like a dream. A lot of doomsayers thought it was a political statement and said that it cannot be done, but in less than five years you are witnesses, you have seen how Lusaka has been transformed. Today things that we used to see in movies, things that we used to see when you go outside Zambia, we could only see them in South Africa, today we are able to see flyover bridges in Zambia. Quality road infrastructure has been rolled out,” bragged Chitotela.