PRESIDENT Hakainde Hichilema has declared that his administration shall not condone lawlessness, insisting that this marks the end of caderism.
And former president Edgar Lungu was yesterday booed by thousands of citizens at Heroes Stadium when he arrived to hand over the instruments of power to the UPND leader.
Giving his inaugural speech, Tuesday, President Hichilema vowed to restore the rule of law.
“We will restore the rule of law, general order in our public places and communities, and return our country back to normalcy. Read my lips, no more cadreism from any political party. There is room, there is space for all of you but there is no space for thuggery, no space for violence. It is a new dawn for the country going forward. I pray that God will continue to guide us throughout our journey. He is our anchor in all seasons. We said bally and team will fix our economy, but we will do more than that. We will grow our economy so we can lift more people out of poverty than ever before. We will promote unity in diversity and ensure respect for the fundamental human rights, liberties and freedoms for all,” he said.
President Hichilema said days of retiring civil servants in national interest for political reasons or unfair grounds were now over.
“Time has come for all Zambians to be truly free. I want to reiterate what I said during my acceptance address that gone are the days when political cadres would take over the functions of public service workers in markets, bus stations, government offices, and other places. Our administration will not allow such disorder. Sanity will return to all places. The days of government workers being retired in national interest for political or unfair grounds, are over. The days of political interference in public institutions and parastatals are over,” he said.
The Head of State promised that a lower cost of living would soon be a reality to all citizens.
“The road ahead will not be without challenges but with a clear vision and plan, which we have, and relentless determination, we shall overcome and deliver on the aspirations of our people. To the jobless youths, a new dawn is here where you will be skilled and find opportunities to work or do business in an economy that will be revived vigorously very soon. To the mother, struggling with the high cost of food, a lower cost of living will soon be a reality to all your family members. To the entrepreneur, seeking capital, an investor and a better operating environment, a government is here that understands your challenges and knows exactly what you need in order to thrive. To all citizens of Zambia, this is truly your moment!” he said.
“The high levels of unemployment, especially among our youth is of great concern to us and this will be high on our agenda to address. Food should be available and affordable for all our people. At least three decent meals each day, this is important to our people and we will work to deliver that. The people have hope and expect us to address the cost of living that is beyond the reach of the majority of our citizens. We believe that a time will come when poverty in our country will not be tolerated and those days are coming very soon. No Zambian should go to bed hungry.”
President Hichilema vowed that his government would deliver on its promises.
“We showed the world the resilience of our democracy and we reaffirmed that power belongs to the people. You, the people of Zambia, resoundingly spoke with your vote and I thank you from the depth of my heart. The people decided it was time for change and today, we can boldly say, change is here! You have entrusted the UPND alliance with the responsibility of serving you and running the affairs of the nation with your interests at heart. We do not take this responsibility lightly. We will truly be your servants and you the people, our masters, that is our promise to you. As your president, as your servant I will ensure that we deliver on our promises,” he said.
President Hichilema further thanked the former Head of State for facilitating a smooth transition.
“I wish to take this opportunity to thank Mr Edgar Chagwa Lungu, our outgoing president, for his service to this nation and facilitating a smooth transition. We choose not to call it “transfer of power” because power belongs to the people. It is therefore to the great credit of the people of this nation that today marks the third peaceful, democratic transfer of leadership since the advent of multi-party democracy, three decades ago,” he said.
The Head of State assured his political opponents that they would be free to mobilise without undue restrictions.
“I wish to thank and commend all political parties and individuals who participated in the elections. Your participation makes our multi-party democracy stronger. To you competitors, we pledge a better democracy where your voices and fundamental rights, liberties and freedoms will be exercised without restrictions from our government. Mark my words. You will have your freedom. To the church, we thank you for your prayers and guidance before, during and after the elections. To our traditional leaders, your wise and invaluable counsel is much appreciated. I invite all political parties to work with us within the remits of a democratic society. We must put aside our election-related and other differences and pull in one direction as a country. We have a lot more things that unite us than those that divide us. We must devote our energies to contribute meaningfully to the national development of our country,” President Hichilema said.
And President Hichilema said the UPND government’s focus over the next five years would be restoring macro-economic stability and promoting growth of the economy,
“I invite our development partners to continue your cooperation as Zambia’s recovery requires concerted effort given our current difficult situation economically and socially. Going forward, you will see rationality from us, prudence and effectiveness from our side. Our focus over the next five years will be on restoring macro-economic stability and promoting growth of the economy,” he said.
The Head of State added that his government would lower the fiscal deficit and reduce public debt.
“We will pay special attention to lowering the fiscal deficit, reducing public debt and restoring social and market confidence. We will also promote national unity and good governance by strict adherence to the rule of law. We will focus on inclusion and not exclusion, unity, and not divisions, gathering and not scattering our people. Economic management is very important. Over the last decade, we have witnessed the erosion of our economy,” President Hichilema said.
“The debt situation has become unsustainable, reducing the country’s capacity to invest in productive areas of our economy and addressing the gaps in healthcare services, education and other social services. We must restore this situation. Our national budget has been overwhelmed by debt servicing, emoluments and consumption, when there should be no room for this because the greater room that exists should be for investment, for growth. Not to consume and to continue wastage, not good for us, not good for our children.”
President Hichilema said corruption would not be tolerated in his administration.
“The scourge of corruption has not only eroded our much-needed resources, but it has also robbed us of the opportunity for growth, for job creation, for health services and the list is long. We shall have zero tolerance to corruption. This will be our hallmark. The fight against corruption will be professional, it will not be vindictive. We will not be going out there for retribution or vengeance, that is not for us. The institutions however mandated to investigate and prosecute will be given unfettered autonomy to effectively and efficiently carry out their mandate without fear or favour of political bias. That is our promise,” he said.
“We are determined to free our country from the ills of mismanagement and malpractice, and promote that which is better for all our people. We will undertake an ambitious economic and social transformation agenda to move Zambia forward, to create equitable opportunities for all our people, and to reduce poverty.”
The Head of state further noted that some of the key priority sectors that would drive economic growth and reduce poverty were agriculture, mining and energy, among other sectors.
The President promised that the Executive would not interfere with other arms of government.
“The UPND alliance administration will enhance good governance and strictly uphold the rule of law. We will live up to our campaign promises by ensuring that all citizens are equal before the law without exception. None anything close to animal farm, but we need proper equity, proper equality before the law. We in the Executive should not interfere in the work of the other arms of government. Our constitution provides separation of powers of these arms of government and we will, therefore, endeavor to promote this principle in order to enhance good governance in our country and hopefully that will have an impact on the region, in a small way and in the global village,” President Hichilema said.
“Coordination to deliver for our people will however be of critical importance because these four arms of government and I shall indicate, including the media, the need to coordinate,the need to have a shared vision to better the lives of our people. So coordination is important and it will be done. It is a new dawn.”
President Hichilema said the media would operate independently.
“The fourth estate, as I said the media will be freed. For you the media, you will be truly free, you will operate independently without looking over your shoulder, who is teargassing you, who is shutting down your radio station, who is shutting down your television station because you said something that we do not like. It is your role to self-regulate, it is your role to report fairly, responsibly so you can build this society to be at a level never seen before. That is your responsibility. Responsibility comes with obligation. Sort out the mess amongst yourselves but you have to have the freedom to do that,” he said, adding that the media would coordinate with other sectors in order to actualise his vision for Zambia.
“Coordination to deliver for our people will however be of critical importance because these four arms of government and I shall indicate including the media need to coordinate , need to have a shared vision to better the lives of our people. So coordination is important and it will be done. It is a new dawn.”
The Head of State said his government would also ensure that standards for quality education were met.
“With regards to education, we will pursue policies that will address the core barriers of access to education. We will also ensure that established standards for quality education are met and enforced. In addition, we will enhance linkages between education and industry to ensure graduates have relevant and employable skills. Further, we will promote innovation and entrepreneurship for job and wealth creation,” said President Hichilema.
Meanwhile, Lungu and his vice-president Inonge Wina were yesterday booed as they arrived at separate times for the ceremony.