PRESIDENT Hakainde Hichilema says those who stole from the public should not consider asset recovery as a tribal war.

And Senior Chief Chiwala of the Lamba speaking people says government should ensure it puts in place a good civil service which will follow government programmes.

Speaking when he met traditional leaders from the Lamba Lima Royal establishment at the Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe International Airport in Ndola, Wednesday, President Hichilema said he had no second thoughts about recovering stolen money which would benefit the people.

“I was praying to God that when we are given a chance to run this country and when all this ethnic smell that has been pushed on certain citizens of our country is invalidated, we will change certain things. We want to shift resources away from a small click of people in Lusaka that have been stealing 90 percent of our money, pretending to be leaders and grabbing people’s money. They put money in their pockets, building mansions and buying homes in Dubai when orphans have no schools. I have no second thoughts about that issue and my mind is very clear. When we begin to recover assets, no one to say this is a tribal war because this is not a tribal war. This is to take money as Jesus said ‘give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar’. This is to ensure that public resources are utilised for the benefit of the people who own the money,” President Hichilema said.

“In fact, I am proposing that we get a conference for all traditional leaders to come together to share issues with the rest of the traditional leaders. You will not see from us any smell of segregation which we saw in the previous situation where some chiefs were favoured while others were demonised.”

President Hichilema said the abolishment of the Ministry of Chiefs and Traditional Affairs had not taken away the function of traditional leaders.

“I am glad to announce that in the very first draft budget of the UPND which we will be announcing this month end, you will see deliberately us shifting resources from the centre through devolution into the constituencies. Then you will decide where your water points will be. This has never been done before. Going forward, while the national budget will be debated, the constitutional budget will also be debated in the council chambers,” he said.

“We will be looking up to you to assist the central government to be part of this agenda. I know some traditional leaders have been complaining that the Ministry of Traditional Affairs is gone but the function is not gone. That Ministry was hanging there and there was nothing there. The functions will be more rationalises and more effective now. You will be part of the decision making in delivering development.”

President Hichilema said the new dawn government would restore the dignity of traditional leaders.

“We want to being back respectability and to bring back dignity. I understand the traditional set ups, not fully but to some extent. You are the first line of governance in our communities upon which any decent government must depend on in governing the country as well as resolving conflicts in the communities. You help in creating opportunities for the people in the communities on the traditional platform. I have no hesitation to say many of you were abused by systems. This government will not abuse traditional leaders, this government will work with you in dignity, respect but more importantly in development,” he said.

“We will focus your roles and responsibilities. Together with yourselves and this UPND government will change the paradigm. We will work together as two partners with self respecting and create opportunities for our citizens who are residents in your chiefdoms.”

President Hichilema thanked the people on the Copperbelt for delivering change despite the hostile environment during campaigns.

“The people of the Copperbelt convincingly managed to change for the better of the country. I was never allowed to come on the Copperbelt, but the people decided to deliver change. It is refreshing that I can come to the Copperbelt without teargas, no fighting and no running away. Although we were not allowed to campaign here during the last campaign period and not able to visit even churches and the environment was hostile. Despite all of this, you, abena kopala (the people of Copperbelt) on the 12th of August this year rose and went to vote and delivered for the UPND and the Alliance partners. Natotela mukwai (thank you very much). I am going to kneel down to say thank you so much for your belief and trust in us. You were resolved. You delivered this change for a better life,” said President Hichilema.

“Going forward, we intend to focus on improving the lives of the people across the country. Our mothers, children and miners we are aware of your challenges. Mine suppliers and contractors we are aware of your challenges. We start a walk towards dealing with those issues that made you decide not to fear tear gas and not to walk away from the campaigns. We have been in office for one month and three weeks but sometimes it feels like one month already because we are in a hurry to do things. We want to bring coronavirus under control then we can focus on the economy. We made an appeal at the UN General Assembly and we were able to come back with more support and more resources because of the trust they have in us.”

Meanwhile, Senior Chief Chiwala said government needed to get rid of corruption in allocation of land.

“A lot of people are frustrated because they were just in for personal gain. Corruption is deep rooted in the country and here on the Copperbelt, we have big challenges. The current leadership in the Ministry of Lands has been in the forefront taking and giving land illegally. During the previous regime, we were literally trampled and not recognized and not regarded as people who were partners in government. Everything they did was not in the interest of the people. Everything was contrary to the rule of law. Anyone who does not work, the change is not about you but us as a people. If this country is to pick up economically, it is the people that should ensure that they get involved. We need to recover from the mess of the past,” said Senior Chief Chiwala.