UPND spokesperson Cornelius Mweetwa says he was appointed Southern Province Minister because President Hakainde Hichilema recognised his ability to transform the area.

And Mweetwa has urged citizens to exercise patience and allow President Hichilema to unpack his economic recovery programme in order to actualise his promises.

At a media briefing, Thursday, Mweetwa said he was appointed Southern Province Minister because the President recognised his ability to transform the province.

“I have been given a mandate by His Excellency to take development from Lusaka to various Provinces, districts and constituencies. That is the mission sent to us. His administration wants to take money and power to other constituencies in order to allow local generated solutions to local challenges. Local people must be able to decide their developmental priorities. We have a job to turn out provincial capitals into cities,” he said.

“The President knows all of us, he looked at us to see who has the energy to run around and visit the entire province without getting tired and thus my appointment as Southern Province Minister. The President told me that because of my energy, he told me to use this energy ‘you have a mission to turn Choma into a city’. Let us go and create business opportunities so that those businesses can create job opportunities for young people. In 2026, we should not run around because what we will have done for the young people should campaign for us.”

And Mweetwa urged citizens to exercise patience and allow President Hichilema to unpack his economic recovery programme in order for the promises to translate into reality.

He insisted that UPND found the economy in a more dilapidated state than they envisaged from outside.

“There are a number of promises that still need to be delivered, like free education. We want to urge our citizens to be patient while awaiting fulfillment of some of these promises because we found the state of the economy in a more dilapidated state than we envisaged from outside. The extent and severity of damage is more colossal than we had understood. Therefore we ask for patience and allow the President and his administration to begin to unpack his economic recovery programme in order for the promises to begin to translate into reality. We are aware that the opposition Patriotic Front is in a hurry to begin to ask that the promises we made be put into practice such as universal free education. Vice president of the PF Given Lubinda and Stephen Kampyongo have been in the media saying ‘can you quickly now offer free education’,” Mweetwa said.

“We are not going to run away from the promises His Excellency gave to the people of this country but we will do it in a gradual and liberated way so that we do not hurt the economy. We are aware that for some of these promises to be fulfilled, the expenditure is consumption-based. Therefore, with the loot that the former administration did to the economy, they should be the last ones to have the morality to stand on a political pedestal and begin to ask us to translate our promises to reality when they know that they depleted the assets of this country. We must first put the basics of the economy first. So those colleagues in the PF should be the last ones to talk because they still have to account for the corruption they were involved in.”

Meanwhile, President Hichilema’s administration was a true reflection of all 10 provinces of the country.

“All the 10 Provinces of this country have been reflected in the appointment of Ministers of President Hakainde Hichilema’s administration. As a party, we want to thank the President that he has walked the talk. He has spent many years in the opposition campaigning around the theme of uniting the nation by reflecting in his administration the representation of all the corners of this country. We do believe that he has satisfied that promise that he has been making to the people of this country for a very long time. As a party, we, therefore, leave it to the people to judge whether the President has kept his promise. He has delivered and scored. So take a checklist and begin to mark him right or wrong,” Mweetwa said.

“May I take the opportunity to clarify that what you see in these appointments even outside cabinet is not about individuals. It is about those individuals representing other people. Therefore, judgment should not be purely cast on an individual. I thought it would be necessary for people to understand that when you see the line-up, they are not based on friendship but based on representation because that is what leadership is all about. The whole nation has been fully represented. Every person from each Province must feel that they are part of the governance system and they are fully participating.”

Mweetwa reminded public service workers that the UPND government would not tolerate any corrupt activities.

“President Hakainde Hichilema promised zero tolerance to corruption. And when he has been swearing members of his Ministries, he has reminded them that his administration will operate with an eagle’s eye on people. We wish to remind all those who are in public service to take President Hakainde Hichilema’s advice seriously. Like he said a few days ago, there is a new sheriff in town and that sheriff is not alone, it is all the people of Zambia checking what those who have been given the opportunity to preside over public affairs are doing,” said Mweetwa.