PRESIDENT Hakainde Hichilema has told State House officials to relate well with Cabinet Ministers rather than trying to be masters.

And President Hichilema says he has appointed a Special Advisor to the President for COVID-19, Dr Roma Chilengi to help deal with the pandemic.

The President was speaking at State House during the swearing-in ceremony of Collins Nzovu as Minister of Green Economy and Environment, Elias Mubanga as Minister of Small and Medium Enterprises, Credo Nanjuwa as Provincial Minister for Central Province, Robert Lihefu as North-Western Province Minister and Bradford Machila as Principal Private Secretary at State House.

Others sworn-in include; Dr Oliver Kalabo as Permanent Secretary State House, John Msimuko as Permanent Secretary for Green Economy and Environment, Jito Kayumba as Special Assistant to the President for Economics and Development Affairs State House, Dr Lawrence Mwananyanda as Special Assistant for Projects and Monitoring State House and Dr Chilengi.

President Hichilema said he had noticed in the past that some State House officials behaved like they were masters in their own right.

“You will see change, I think you are already noticing if you are observant that we are creating clusters in the Presidency that will bring combined skills, individual but combined skills to function so that this House functions to serve the people. This your State House works with Cabinet Office, works with the Minister of Finance and other Ministers to deliver. So, the theme is the same, emphasis may be different, but the theme is the same,” he said.

“State House is not a master of everything. State House is a unit to make things happen. Our constitution allows an Executive President that should be accountable to people but must deliver to the people. You as a team in State House must do just that. Relate well with your colleagues in other Ministries, you are not the masters. I have seen this too often that people in State House begin to behave like they are masters in their own right, no! We are servants.”

President Hichilema said there was need to revise the tender processes and procedures that lead to wastage of resources.

“I would like us to move from these ceremonies but simultaneously begin to implement the policies and the measures that will benefit the people. What are these measures? For example, procurement; three rules, buy at the right cost, the quality must be right, anything we do must be delivered on time. The Ministers that are here, Permanent Secretaries, State House start on a clean slate. Let us revise the tender processes and procedures that lead us to wastage of people’s resources. The next time I stand here, I will expect a brief that I will share with the public on the measures that we have taken to control tenderpreneurs who sit in government Ministries either as Ministers, PS or directors, all they do is chase tenders and give themselves tenders at a high price,” he said.

“I want to announce to the public specific measures and a possible projection of savings. Fertilizer, madam Vice President, your officials in this government that have gone before were buying fertilizer at $1,200 per tonne, when at that time the price of fertilizer was $450 per tonne. Just imagine what that means? Wastage. Yes, the price of fertilizer has gone up a little bit. I am talking about not waiting for these ceremonies every week but to effect prudence and cost controlling measures. Every day we don’t do it, the taxpayers are losing money and impairing our capabilities to create jobs for the youth.”

And President Hichilema said he had appointed Dr Roma Chilengi to help deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The reason the people decided for change is to deliver change anchored on the improved economy, to make food available for our people, jobs, business opportunities. That is why particularly today, we are very pleased today that we have an advisor to deal with the Coronavirus Pandemic. To bring that pandemic within the challenges that we face under control. Without bringing it under control, it will be very difficult to achieve the agenda of reconstructing the economy because COVID will stand in our way,” he said.

“As we go to New York for the UN General Assembly that is what we are going there to do. The Coronavirus Pandemic, issues that will help this country and other African countries to bring it under control will be top of our agenda. The Coronavirus advisor will be required to play a critical role from yesterday so that we have a successful mission around this subject and we can come back home with more support given our local limitations to serve the lives of our people. I chose to pick on him because it is a circumstantial appointment because of the Coronavirus situation.”

President Hichilema further urged citizens not to relent on COVID-19 preventive measures.

“I want to urge our people not to relent, not to push for relaxation of the Coronavirus control measures, mitigation measures. Because if they do, the fourth wave will catch us in a weaker position and we shall lose lives. We do not wish that. So, the Presidency will provide direct leadership support to the advisor of COVID-19, to the Ministries, Ministry of Health in particular and other frontline workers Ministries, teachers, those that interact with the people. We have to have a programme for markets, Mr advisor, public places where food is sold and bought,” said President Hichilema.