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President Lungu New Year Speech

LUNGU

As we enter the New Year, I want to pay tribute to you all for your resilience and solidarity as we tackle the challenges facing the country.

On day one of my Presidency, I implored the nation to join the crusade against poverty by working hard and embracing the robust and transformative agenda of this government.

Looking back now, I am satisfied that you, our people and masters, have no cause to doubt the sincerity of this government, your government.

PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF ZAMBIA

ON THE OCCASION TO MARK

THE CLOSE OF THE YEAR 2015

AND

HERALD THE NEW YEAR 2016

 

I address you on this last day of the year of our Lord 2015, as a grateful and proud President of this great country.

I have been deeply touched and humbled by the support you have given me and my government from the time we assumed office at the beginning of this year.

 

Country Men and Women

Three months before that, the country had been brought together by the shock and grief that gripped the nation, following the sudden demise of our beloved President, his Excellency Mr. Michael Chilufya Sata. We mourned that great man in the true spirit of one Zambia, one nation.

I say thank you to you all for giving our late president a solemn and dignified send-off. May his soul rest in peace.

Country Men and Women

The months that followed the passing of our dear president were not easy. The very heart and soul of this nation was at stake as the country jostled to find another leader.

 

We could easily have fallen on the all-too-familiar path of African politics where elections are not a cause for celebration, but rather, a precursor to violence, destruction of property, loss of life and the general breakdown of law and order.

Thanks to the maturity and collective wisdom of our people, we avoided that grand narrative. Once again, we demonstrated to the outside world that democracy was truly alive and well in Zambia.  We showed the world that here, in this great country, the will of the people still reigns supreme, and that once the people have spoken through the ballot, we respect their choice.

During the January 20 elections, the people of Zambia reposed their trust in me and the patriotic front party by giving us the mandate to continue running  the affairs of this country. We shall forever remain indebted to you all for that distinctive honour and trust.

 

Country Men and Women

From the very beginning, as the 6th President of the republic of Zambia, I set out the principles that would guide my administration.

I did that after a great deal of thought and reflection. I spoke fervently about the need to foster the unity of our people if we were to develop as a country.

I called on all of us to focus on things that united us as opposed to those that divided us. I said then that there was no room for rancour or revenge in the aftermath of the elections. I still want the nation to live by that principle.

As Government we are determined to banish hunger and poverty from our midst and we cannot achieve that goal if we are consumed with bitterness and the spirit of revenge.

On day one of my Presidency, I implored the nation to join the crusade against poverty by working hard and embracing the robust and transformative agenda of this government.

 

Country Men and Women

Looking back now, I am satisfied that you, our people and masters, have no cause to doubt the sincerity of this government, your government.

I promised you a listening government and you now have a government that is truly at the service of the people.  For instance, government heard the cry of the mining sector and revised the mineral royalty tax downwards to attract more investments.

We also made progress on the constitution making process by passing a truly people-driven constitution during the last sitting of parliament. I stand proud and ready to sign into law that collective will of the people. This is an epic moment when the nation comes together to express their collective aspirations. It is a moment that calls for courage because we are doing things that have been dreaded in the past. That document will revolutionalise our politics in many respects. Let me take this opportunity to thank all Zambians for this great achievement. For the remaining aspects of the constitution, I promised the nation a referendum, and that is what the nation will get once we are ready!

 

Our people are now happy that the government rescinded its decision to increase road traffic penalty fees. Equally government has deferred the decision to re-establish a national airline;

 

Government is revising the former Presidents’ benefits act and the conditions of service for other constitutional office holders in order to reduce government expenditure;

You will also recall that I undertook to submit myself to your counsel and guidance. I have adequately demonstrated that.

I will remain true to the vision I set out on my inauguration day, regardless of the difficulties that may come our way.   When they do, we should be of courage to turn to god our creator and seek his divine counsel and illumination.

 

Country Men and Women

I am proud to note that in the first eleven months of my presidency, the country has continued to enjoy peace, stability and development.

At a revised projected 3.4 percent GDP growth rate, Zambia’s economy remains strong despite the slump in copper prices and the unfavourable weather conditions.

The latter has affected electricity generation and this has had telling effects on households, the farming community, business houses and the mining sector.

 

But the nation can be assured that growth is expected to improve in 2016/2017 as copper production picks up and power shortages reduce due to our robust interventions to speed up the commissioning of new power plants.

I remain committed to ensuring that my administration creates conditions to support a further rise in copper production; entrench political stability; improve electricity supply and assure investors of a more stable policy environment that will be anchored on the medium term expenditure framework.

In the southern African region, for instance, Zambia is one of the few countries that can boast of sustained national food security thanks to the hard work put in by our farmers.

I expect agricultural production to increase progressively in the light of our huge investments in rural infrastructure, which I have tasked the Zambia national service to rapidly execute.

Given favourable weather conditions, Zambia is poised to remain food-secure in the coming months. We are one of the few countries in the region that still has sufficient cereals to feed our people.

Our people today are also witnesses to and actively participate in the unprecedented infrastructure development taking place everywhere across the length and breadth of this country.

Construction of roads, schools, hospitals and universities is now a common sight in places where, not too long ago, people had lost hope of ever seeing their government at work.

Thanks to the visionary leadership of our party, today Link Zambia 8000, Pave Zambia 2000, l400 and C400 have become part of our vocabulary whenever we discuss the good things happening to our roads.

 

COUNTRYMEN AND WOMEN

In addition, this government has kept up the momentum to attract new investments in energy, manufacturing, tourism, agriculture and mining.

 

The overall goal of all these efforts is to create a vibrant economy that will in turn generate the much needed jobs for our people and bring about prosperity for all, regardless of whether they are in town or the countryside. That’s the hallmark of a responsible and smart government.

 

COUNTRYMEN AND WOMEN

These successes notwithstanding, the country has had its own share of economic challenges attributed mainly to developments in the global economy. Zambia’s major trading partners, especially the Eurozone and China, are experiencing a slowdown in the growth of their respective economies.

 

This slowdown in the Eurozone and China has impacted negatively on Zambia’s export earnings. Copper prices have dropped by 26 percent since the beginning of 2015, leading to a fall in production and scaling back of some mining operations in the country.

This situation is exacerbated by our over dependence on copper at the expense of agriculture, tourism and manufacturing. Further, earnings from non-traditional exports have declined by over 35 percent.

Developments in the external sector have led to a sharp depreciation of the Kwacha against the major convertible currencies.  I am happy to note the Kwacha has posted some appreciable stability and going forward I expect the measured central bank interventions to continue to enhance currency stability. We are a free market economy and even in the face of noticeable distortions in the market we remain committed to the virtues of a free market.

It is in this regard that I urge investors and citizens in general to ignore irresponsible rumour mongering of the previous weeks that Zambia may reintroduce capital and exchange controls.

The currency depreciation has impacted negatively on the general prices of goods and services thereby, fueling inflation but we remain committed to ensuring that inflation does not spiral out of control.

Needless to say, the fall in copper prices and the non-traditional exports has led to a reduction in government revenue and thus, adversely affecting expenditure.

COUNTRYMEN AND WOMEN

In the midst of these challenges, government has taken several measures to ameliorate the situation.  These measures are starting to bear fruit as evidenced by the sustained stability of the Kwacha during the last one month.

 

There has also been sustained supply of electricity following short term measures that government has undertaken which include emergency electricity importation.

 

COUNTRYMEN AND WOMEN

Looking forward into 2016, I expect continued stability of the exchange rate, a decline in inflation and interest rates as well as increased job opportunities.

 

Government will also endeavor to mitigate the suffering of those who have lost jobs in the mining sector by relocating the willing to existing farm blocks where further assistance will be given in form of skills for agricultural production.

 

To insulate our economy from external shocks, we will accelerate the pace of diversifying our economy from being over dependent on copper to agriculture, tourism and manufacturing.

Country Men and Women

Zambia is part of a global community that has become highly competitive.  To this end, government will continue to pursue the policy of enhancing its visibility abroad while being mindful of the austerity measures that i announced during the November 26 press conference relating to the suspension of the creation of new missions abroad.

In this vein, I would like to urge all Zambians to endeavor to project a positive image of our country both at home and abroad. You are our country’s best ambassadors.

 

Country Men and Women

The year 2016 will be a special one in the history of Zambia in that it will be the first time that the country will be going to the polls under the fifty percent plus one and presidential running mate provisions in the yet to be signed amended constitution.

I wish to commend our parliamentarians from both sides of the house for passing the Constitution Amendment Bill.

The people will be accorded an opportunity to consider the other aspects of the constitution as we proceed.

 

Country Men and Women

In the recent past the country has been faced with an increase in violence. Once again, I direct the Inspector General of Police to deal decisively with the perpetrators of this violence and to do so with impartiality.

The police should also ensure that the public order act is administered in a manner that ensures equity and fairness.

 

Country Men and Women

As we enter the New Year, I want to pay tribute to you all for your resilience and solidarity as we tackle the challenges facing the country.

We should not relent in continuing to seek the face of GOD in the New Year as we pursue our ambitious transformational agenda for a smart Zambia now and our vision of becoming a developed country by 2064.

To this end, hard work, unity of purpose and prayer are not an option but an imperative to ensure that Zambia succeeds.

To our partners in development, I wish to thank you all on behalf of the people of Zambia for the support you have continued to render to the country.

 

Country Men and Women

As I conclude, may I reiterate that as we go to the elections it is the responsibility of everyone to uphold law and order and avoid incidences of violence.

As political leaders we have a civic duty to ensure that the Zambian people exercise their right to freely express themselves and choose their preferred candidates without fear, intimidation or coercion.

Let me emphasise that Zambia is bigger than anyone of us and therefore citizens of goodwill must ignore those politicians who seek state power through divisive tendencies such as descending to base instincts of tribe, colour, sex and other such issues.

The problems that confront us cannot be the reason for hating one another; we are a nation of tolerance; we do not need extremism as a form of engagement; we are a nation of hope; a nation of peaceful co-existence; we are Christian nation!

Finally, I wish you all a happy and a prosperous 2016.

May the Almighty God Bless Zambia.

I thank you.

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