PRESIDENT Hakainde Hichilema says people should be happy that there is over enrollment in schools across the country, arguing that this shows that the free education policy is actually working.

And President Hichilema says the UPND government is not in competition with traditional and church leaders, but recognises the need to work together in order to better the lives of people.

Meanwhile, Paramount Chief Mpezeni of the Ngoni speaking people says government’s decision to increase the allocation to the Constituency Development Fund is a bold one which will foster development.

Speaking during the Nc’wala ceremony, Saturday, President Hichilema said people should not worry about over enrolment because government will build more classrooms and employ 30,000 teachers.

“It is on the basis of unity, strong individual, family and community values that we want to run this country to drive peace and stability to deliver economic and social development for all our people. The local people know what they want to prioritise in their communities. In the past, your priorities were never supported. The new dawn government made a decision to support those local decisions with financial capacity. We have increased the CDF to allow constituencies to advance development. Unlike in the past, we want to assure you that these funds will be disbursed to all constituencies in full before the end of this year. This is the fairness we believe in,” he said.

“We made a dramatic decision that will support free education. This is the second month of the new dawn budget and we have delivered free education from grade one up to grade 12. I have heard now that schools are now over enrolled with pupils and some people are complaining. You should not complain. You should be happy that there is over enrollment. It means that pupils were sitting at home and not going to school before the free education policy was put in place. We must prove that the policy is working already. Our duty is to support the schools with more classrooms and that is why we have delivered money through CDF including the 30,000 teachers we will employ.”

President Hichilema said he was committed to restoring the integrity of traditional leaders.

“The theme of this Nc’wala ceremony would not have been better than what it is. Peace, Stability, Unity in our country is of great importance knowing where we are coming from just about seven months ago. The importance of cultural values like the Ngoni community is no doubt one that we want to promote because it builds the characters that we are in our global village. The spectacle of this Nc’wala ceremony is evidenced by the great multitude from all parts of our country and beyond our boundaries. We want to encourage all the traditional leaders across the country to focus on working together and fostering these values through different traditional ceremonies like this one,” he said.

And President Hichilema said government was not in competition with traditional or church leaders.

“We are committed to working with yourselves as partners in development. The UPND government is not in competition with traditional leaders neither is it in competition with church leaders. We are complementary and we will work together to better the lives of our people here and everywhere else. We are determined to restore the integrity of traditional leaders. In the past, traditional leaders were treated differently but not so good. Going forward, you will be happy with the way we will relate with yourselves in serving our people,” said President Hichilema.

“I am aware that some chiefs have no palaces. We want to institutionalise every chiefdom by making sure there is a palace in every chiefdom. Otherwise, there is no way a chief will help govern this country if they do not have a proper official office and establishment. That is important to us and there will be no segregation. It does not matter which chief voted for who, it does not matter. We are now in government and we will look after everybody because that is our duty. Traditional and church leaders, let us work together to end child marriages, early pregnancy exercises and gender violence. Let us also continue fighting covid.”

Meanwhile, Paramount Chief Mpezeni said the decision to increase CDF was a bold decision.

“Our cultural heritage is a mirror of our national unity. We take note that Zambia is blessed with diverse tribes and culture. The Nc’wala in particular attracts people from all corners of Zambia and indeed outside Zambia as being seen by the huge and diverse turnout here today. The Paramount chief declared this year’s theme as promoting healing, unity and reconciliation. This is in line with President Hakainde Hichilema’s call to unite by focusing on what unites us and not what divides us. This makes the dream of realising the One Zambia, One Nation. This year, there are clear indications that we may have some food shortages in Zambia and Eastern Province is not excluded,” said chief Mpezeni.

“I would like to appeal to our people, the farmers both in Eastern Province and other parts of Zambia not to rush selling maize and other crops. This year and part of next year we must all support and work with the government to ensure that we safeguard and maintain the national food security by being responsible citizens. The Ngoni people will remain reliable partners and committed in the fight against COVID-19. The decision to increase CDF will improve the lives of people in the constituency. This was a bold decision to foster development and take development to each and every district of Zambia.”

He also appealed to government to change the name of Mwami border to Inkosi Yama Nkosi Mpezeni so that it was in line the area’s language, heritage and history.