PRESIDENT Hakainde Hichilema says it will be unacceptable for citizens to misuse the constituency development fund after resources have been taken away from a small clique of corrupt people in Lusaka.

Speaking when he officiated at the commissioning of the Samu Lya Moomba site as a heritage site, President Hichilema refuted claims that the increased CDF was an ethnic agenda.

“I have heard the murmurings, I was in Scotland just two days ago, I heard the murmerings that the recovery of assets, the realignment of money from Lusaka to the local areas is an ethnic agenda, no, hunger knows no tribe. What belongs to you as an individual or as a family you can spend the way you want but what belongs to the nation must be left for the nation and the people to utilize…give the money to the people, that belongs to the people of Zambia, that’s all I am doing,” he said.

“It will be unacceptable that we bring the money to you, take it away from the corrupt people, small number only, bring it to you and you also misuse it. That will not be acceptable either.”

He said his government would not allow individuals to steal money from the citizens who were the owners of the money.

“We are realigning the way public resources are managed, complete realignment and you will see that, we want to move and we are moving resources from a small clique of thieves ion Lusaka, corrupt people and bring the money to you people here so you can decide on utilization. We cannot be in the leadership of our country and allow a few individuals to take away millions of dollars from you the owners of that money. We are pursuing that money, new are recovering that money, we are bringing it to you in the local areas,” President Hichilema said.

He noted the importance of the heritage site.

“Samu Lya Moomba, there, that is where the young freedom fighters structured their liberation struggle from, right there. During these days, this site was a meeting point for all the communities around there and far flung areas to strategize about our independence. It was clear that talking alone would not deliver independence and resources were required and that site over many years, that site received donations for the struggle, all sorts of gifts including cattle. The main one was cattle,” he said.

And speaking when he met chiefs, the Head of State emphasized that the K25.7 million would be discharged annually and was designed to benefit local contractors.

“This CDF of 25.7 million per year, maybe you haven’t heard us well, 25.7 million per year, every year as long as this son of yours remains the president, this money will come to you every year. And I am taking it away from a small number of corrupt people in Lusaka, and they are angry with me, they are already shouting and calling this thing a tribal issue, there is no tribe here, development is not tribal this is for the whole country. We are also changing rules, the contracts for using this money to build the classrooms, before, the Chinese will be building here, the British will be building here, the foreigners will be building here, a person from Lusaka will be building this classroom but now, this classroom will be built by people from your constituencies, in your chiefdom,” he said.

“What’s more important is that the decision on how to use that money will no longer be that of politicians only, it won’t just be councilors and chairmen or mayors or MPs, by the way we will have MPs back there but it will also be the chiefs, the headmen, you will select who will sit on that committee, the community and everyone.”

He also thanked the chiefs for the overwhelming support of their subjects in the August general elections.

“I must also indicate, through you, of how grateful I am that your subjects voted overwhelmingly in the 2021, 12 August elections to put us in this office to serve you with a landslide never seen before with a difference of one million votes which has never been seen before in this country. Which means your people are united and your people wants to remain united. You the chiefs must help your people be united,” he said.

He emphasized the importance of appreciating the country’s diversity in history and the various contributions to the country’s independence.

“The reason we are here today is to walk the path of unity that our freedom fighters who worked together from all parts of life to deliver independence decided that unity is the only way to construct the nation and we are walking the same path, to deliver the new independence which economic and social independence, that is our duty, that is the unity that we are seeking now. On that score, I started by visiting the late Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe’s graveyard, I think you all followed that, I went to Mbala to pay our respects to the late Harry Mwanga Nkumbula, today we are here at Samu Lya Moomba because some of the history was being distorted deliberately, we want to give the full history of the struggle for independence and have unity delivered,” he said.

“By bringing the diversity of our history, we will show how different parts of this country worked together to contribute to our freedom as Zambia. I think its our duty, under your leadership to continue that path of unity for the generations alive today, for the generations to come. Divide us, you will destroy the country, unite us, you will build this country, you the traditional leaders together with the political leaders, we work together to unite not to divide, to deliver opportunity for all, not to marginalize. That is the road we are going to go on.”

He highlighted some challenges which traditional leaders were facing and proposed to meet all the chiefs, and his ministers in order to address the challenges.

“I am aware the chiefs have issues, development issues, succession issues, your palaces, your issue of transport, issue of allowances, the issue of land. Here is what I am asking, I am asking that you now you are here, communicate with others, the provincial leadership of chiefs in all the provinces, the house of chiefs. I want to propose that all the chiefs, we agree on a full day when you and the President and his cabinet will seat together to discuss all these issues,” said President Hichilema.

And speaking on behalf of the chiefs, Chief Nalubamba expressed concern over the lack of proposal writing skills by locals in order for them to benefit from CDF and urged government to put in place policies that would ensure that locals benefitted from the decentralised resources.