YOUTH, Sport and Arts Minister Elvis Nkandu says it is impossible for a change of government to happen in 2026 because “history has proven that a change of government only happens in a year which ends with the number one”.

And Nkandu says the UPND government knew exactly what challenges were existing when they sought for public office, but fixing them was not a matter of “abracadabra”.

Meanwhile, Nkandu says his Ministry has currently recovered K21 million from various youth empowerment schemes from the past.

Speaking on Prime TV’s Oxygen of Democracy programme, Monday, Nkandu said the opposition could only come into government in 2031, if UPND did not deliver on its promises.

“The Zambian people should not expect that the PF will tell us good things or they will praise us, they will never. They will be looking for all sorts of issues. But because we understand and we appreciate the rule of law, which in the PF it was a dream, it was not there. So let them just accept that in Zambia, it is not possible for the PF to come back. Do your research, after UNIP got out of office, it has never bounced back, MMD also when they went out, they will never come back. So there is no guarantee that the PF will come back. Anyway, I will tell them that dreams are free, let them continue dreaming. The fact that they are saying they are coming back in 2026, my friends, that is not [the time new] governments come into office. The way governments come into office, I always say this, there is always a one at last,” he said.

“We changed a government in 1991, we also changed government in 2011 because there is a one at last. In 2021, we changed government because there is a one at last. It is not possible to change government in 2026, let them wait for 2031 and they can only change government in 2031, if we don’t do what we promised the Zambia people, that I can assure them. I think people are able to understand my research, I am not just dreaming, that is what happens. Are you telling me that we didn’t change government in 1991? That is a fact. Did you change government in 2006, in 2008? You didn’t, you changed government in 2011, there is a one. Again you changed government in 2021, unless I am lying, tell me when last we changed government without a one at last.”

He said the UPND government was confident because it had achieved a number of things.

“Do you know why we are so confident? Because of the propaganda that is going on now, they just want to discredit the new dawn government, but I want to tell them that there are a lot of issues that we have done. Before we could even come to the issues of the youth, you know people need to understand, the PF in their 10 years they only employed 7,000 teachers [but] seven months, eight months down the line, we are employing 30,000 teachers. This is what we were campaigning, when we were campaigning, we said these are the promises that we had given to the Zambian people, that we are going to create job opportunities. True to our word, we have created job opportunities. Apart from that, health workers 11,200, this is unprecedented,” Nkandu said.

“Let us look at other issues why people should have this confidence, the K1.6 million CDF that was being given to the constituencies was not enough. Just when we came into office, the promise we promised during campaigns that we are going to increase the CDF was increased to K25.7 million, this is unprecedented.”

And Nkandu said UPND knew exactly what hardships were present when it sought to form government.

“We found about $800 million in fuel [debt] under the Ministry of Energy, today I am happy that we have been paying and it is now about 500. Who borrowed that money? Was it the new dawn government or the Patriotic Front? Because they had that appetite to borrow as if they knew that they were going out. They were just borrowing so that the next government that may come will have difficulties, but we knew what we were entering into, that is also comforting. So when we compare, it doesn’t mean that we are not fixing that, we are going to fix it but we should tell the Zambia people that this is what happened,” Nkandu said.

“So people should not say that because this was done by the Patriotic Front, it was done by the Zambian government, not by the Patriotic Front, so people should desist from accrediting the PF. With that appetite they had, without vision, we have found ourselves in all these difficulties, but as I said, when we were campaigning, we said we have come to fix the economy. This was the economy that was destroyed in 10 years and you don’t expect us to use abracadabra to fix everything. Rome was not built in a day.”

Meanwhile, Nkandu said the Ministry had recovered K21 million from youth empowerment programmes.

“Another important one, what we are calling the National Youth Scheme, is a scheme where we have to identify extremely vulnerable youths in society. This is not a loan, it is a grant. In our budget, we have K23 million budgeted for this. Let me talk about the general empowerment program because it is very important. We have the money, ever since I came into office, we have now gone up to K21 million recoveries. We have recovered about K21 million. This is the money that these youths should apply for so that they get into their businesses. So this is under general empowerment programmes,” said Nkandu.

“There is also what we are calling a community scholarship programme under the Ministry of Community Development, plus an international organisation called ICOF, International Collision of Fellowships, we have partnered. We have now enrolled about 5,000 youths, meaning per province it is 500. We have distributed forms for free and this is going up to diploma level, this is tertiary free education. There are those who thought that their life has come crushing with only two subjects, they couldn’t even go to five subjects, five o levels. We are taking those people so that they further their education by giving them diploma courses. The diploma courses are Diploma in Secondary Education, Diploma in Primary Education and many more.”