PRESIDENT Hakainde Hichilema says it is unacceptable that a lot of Zambians are living in poverty 57 years after independence.

And President Hichilema says Zambians have every reason to put aside differences and celebrate the country’s liberation from colonialism.

Addressing the nation, Saturday, President Hichilema said his government’s desire was to develop the country.

“Our greatest desire as the new dawn administration is to develop this country. It is unacceptable that 57 years after independence we are still poor. We have a lot of our people living in poverty, this is unacceptable. It is for this reason that we have placed emphasis on economic transformation. We are eager to restore macro economic stability and growth, attain debt and fiscal stability and improve the livelihood of the Zambian people especially those that are vulnerable. It is only through economic transformation that we will reduce or we will become food secure, reduce poverty and create the much-needed jobs and business opportunities especially for our youths,” he said.

President Hichilema said independence day was a reminder of the need to promote patriotism and national unity.

“Our great nation will celebrate 57 years of our independence, the day invokes memories of our founding fathers and mothers who fought hard and won us our freedom from colonial rule. The day gives us the opportunity to reflect on our freedom and self rule. The day also reminds us of the need to promote patriotism and national unity. On this day, we have every reason to put aside our differences and celebrate our liberation from colonialism and celebrate our journey to sovereign and prosperous Zambia,” he said.

“We cannot forget our brave men and women who made this freedom possible. It is important that we pay tribute to all our freedom fighters, we remember Dr Kenneth David Kaunda and Mr Simon Zukas who recently passed on. This generation of selfless and patriotic citizens sacrificed for the freedom we enjoy today. As we thank God for them, we must not forget what they stood for, we must never forget their works, we must emulate their hard work and selfless leadership.”

The Head of State said his government would do everything in its power to end corruption, lawlessness, poverty and indebtedness.

“The 57th independence anniversary celebration will be held under the theme ‘celebrating a new dawn anchored on good governance, national unity and development’. As we commemorate our 57th independence anniversary tomorrow (Sunday), let us be comforted by the fact that a new dawn is here with us. The new dawn brings renewed hope for a better Zambia. You, our people, have put your trust in our administration, and believe that we will make your lives better. Be assured you made the right choice. We promised and we will deliver to you our people. The rule of law, as well as law and order, epitomized by enhanced protection of the rights and civil liberties of all our people across the country,” President Hichilema said.

“The new dawn administration promised and will deliver to you our people transparency and accountability in the management of public affairs, government agencies, civil society and the private sector, we will be accountable to all our people. We promise and we will take decisions and actions which will offer the greatest benefit to our people. Our people deserve dignified lives. This we shall deliver. We will therefore do everything in our power to end corruption, lawlessness, poverty and indebtedness which have eroded our dignity and freedom as a people.”

President Hichilema urged citizens to aim at remaining a united people not only in words but also in deeds.

“The importance of national unity cannot be over emphasized, national unity is the strength as well as the core that binds and inspires us as a people. Our forefathers and mothers resolved to build a strong and united nation from all the ethnic groups and regions of our country. Our forefathers and mothers did not only accept, accommodate each other but also celebrated the unique heritage of each other in terms of ethnicity, in terms of religion. They laid a strong foundation for One Zambia, One Nation. This foundation has remained solid for the past 57 years. This foundation is therefore everyone of us to build upon, we must therefore take the necessary concrete steps to nurture and grow our unity as a people. We must aim at remaining a united people not only in words but also in deeds,” he said.

“There is renewed strength in unity as exemplified by the admirable journey to independence by our forefathers and mothers. Let us love, respect and appreciate one another so that we gunner the necessary unity of purpose and determination to achieve our common goals.”

The Head of State said a lot of positive things could be said about Zambia among them, peace, stability and rich cultural diversity.

“Many positive things can be said about Zambia at 57 years old. We have a maturing democracy, peace and unity. We have a rich cultural diversity, we have a youthful population and abundant natural resources. We are equally making advancements in the areas of technology. As a country, we have continued to enhance our democracy in accordance with our constitution, we hold credible elections to choose our leaders at various levels regularly, at least every five years. Three times now, there has been a smooth transfer of leadership from one political party to another, this is commendable. We have continued to uphold the separation of powers among the three arms of government,” said President Hichilema.

“The new dawn administration is further determined to enhance our democratic credentials. As a country, peace and stability has been our greatest asset since we gained independence in1964, for this, we are admired and recognized as a beacon of peace in the region and the rest of the world. Let us all commit to doing our part to maintain this peace for ourselves and for the generation to come. We must care for one another regardless of our ethnicity. One’s ethnicity is not decided by them individually. Gender, race, political affiliation or religion are all ingredients for a collective unity in our country. Long live our beloved country, Zambia.”