Vice-President Mutale Nalumango says youths are at the heart of President Hakainde Hichilema.

Launching the 2022 National Youth Indaba on behalf of President Hichilema, Wednesday, Vice-President Nalumango said the Head of State had not neglected the youths.

“Let me assure you that, you the youths are the passion, the heartbeat of President Hakainde Hichilema. He never forgets about you, he has not neglected you, he thinks of you day and night. That is why you hear so many programmes through the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Arts, because the President is thinking about you. This government is thinking about you. If other Ministries were to stand, I think you will hear what is happening, what plans they have, something is already happening in their Ministries. If I ask the Minister of Technology now, he has beautiful programmes for the youths. Zambia will not be the same, we are walking the talk because this government is here to work for the people,” she said.

“Small and Medium [Enterprise Minister] has a lot up his sleeves, there is a lot being put on the table. There is a lot in Green Economy, I did hear the youths say Mukula, it is no longer just about Mukula, when this is revealed, you will see the many beautiful things that this government is planning. That will also tackle the climate change issues. You can trust your government, let us hold our peace and see what will come out of this government of President Hakainde Hichilema. This is just the beginning of many good things to come. You can trust Hakainde, as you trusted him and gave him the vote and gave his Ministers the vote. Hold on, you held on for a long time, some of you have grown in hope, hope never disappoints.”

She said gatherings like the National Youth Indaba should not be politicised.

“I have been informed by the Minister and I believe that this gathering must not be taken to be a political gathering. This is in accordance with what the UPND, the ruling party promised the people of Zambia that we are going to unite the Zambians. This is unity because you youths gathered here come from different political parties. Yesterday is gone, we have a new dawn empowering the youth. This government does not draw a line, this government looks at the youths in their own independent capacities and therefore you are so welcome. For once we can feel Zambian and not divided on the political divide. You have come from everywhere. The inclusiveness does not exclude those with disabilities. Disability is not inability. We know how much talent is vested in people with disabilities because they can also improve themselves, they can also live a full life in their own possession. This is why everybody is here, this is a demonstration of inclusivity in this place,” said Vice President Nalumango.

And reading a speech on behalf of President Hichilema, Vice President Nalumango said government was expected to create 2 million for the youths in the future.

“Government with support from the United Nations Agencies both bilateral and multilateral partners , civil society and the private sector, will be placing youth volunteers and interns in strategic industries and sectors of the economy to enhance service delivery to its citizens, particularly the youth. This strategy is expected to create over 2 million job opportunities to the youth of Zambia over the foreseeable future. These policies and plans being advanced are a clear demonstration from my government that it is no longer business as usual,” said President Hichilema.

“Because our population is largely youthful with 36 percent aged between 18 and 35 years, we have a unique opportunity to leverage this productivity by investing in it. My administration will provide equal and balanced opportunities to all the youths of this country. To ensure inclusivity, let me mention here that the revising of the youths policy and its implementation plan as well as the National Youth Development Strategy will involve provincial consultation to be held in all the 10 provinces.”

Meanwhile Youth Minister Elvis Nkandu said his Ministry had recovered K2 million from loans given to youths.

“When we were ushered into office, we noticed mismanagement in the implementation of youth empowerment. However, I want to report that we have redesigned the guidelines to ensure inclusivity and we have repossessed some equipment such as buses to repair them and redistribute them. We are also attaching the youths who benefited from tanker trucks to oil marketing companies so that they can mentor them before the loan is repaid in full. I have also been going around the country to encourage those who benefited to pay back the loans so that others can benefit,” he said.

“We have started seeing a tremendous improvement in loan repayments as over 20 million has been recovered since we came into office. It is important to note that when we came into office not even K1 was collected. For the past five months, we have been in office, we have collected 20 million.”

He said the new dawn government would never take the young people for granted.

“It is important to mention that the new dawn government will never take the young people for granted. We know what we did on 12th August 2021 and we are alive to the fact that there are promises that we had promised as the new dawn government and I can assure you that will come to fruition. The new dawn government is very determined to create equal opportunities for all by resources mobilization and ensuring that 80 percent of procurement is given to the youth led enterprises. This was a directive from the Office of the President that we need to create an atmosphere where 80 percent of any procurement at my Ministry should be given to the youth led companies or youth led cooperatives,” said Nkandu.