I AM highly honoured to officiate at this important installation ceremony of Henry Kanyanta Manga II, as Paramount Chief Chitimukulu of the Bemba people.
Mwinelubemba, I wish to extend my sincere congratulations for this position of honour which has been bestowed on you.
It is my prayer that the Almighty God will grant you the grace to have wisdom, as this will enable you to effectively oversee the affairs of the people of your chiefdom, and most importantly to collaborate with Government to foster development.
Allow me to also thank the organising committee for extending an invitation to me to witness this joyous occasion.
On behalf of my Government and the people of Zambia, let me also express gratitude for the cooperation that Northern Province has been rendering to the Patriotic Front administration in the implementation of developmental projects and programmes.
Your Royal Highness, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.
The event we are witnessing today is very important to demonstrate the importance that we the people of Zambia attach to our traditional leaders as custodians of our traditions, heritage and customs.
This ceremony is also an acknowledgement of the immense contribution that our Royal Highnesses make in upholding and promoting our countryâ€™s traditional and cultural values.
Our traditional leaders are vital in the development process of our nation because they are very close to the grassroots. In this connection, as a country, we should at all costs avoid situations that trigger disunity in chiefdoms, but instead we should be preaching peace and unity.
Cultural events of this nature are significant as they not only unify us, but also remind us of our customs, norms and traditions. Culture is a very important ingredient that defines our humanity.
Through such occasions, we are also socialised, especially our young people into who we are, our existence and how we ought to respect and honour our leaders.
In this regard, my Government will continue to uphold and respect traditional events such as this, because of the significant and positive role they play in unifying our people.
My government is resolute in providing continued support to Northern Province and other regions in the country. This is in an effort to meet the peopleâ€™s needs and aspirations.
Let me also reiterate my Governmentâ€™s commitment to implementing developmental projects in your chiefdom and other chiefdoms across the country.
At this juncture, I wish to highlight some of the key developmental projects being implemented in Northern Province in various sectors of the economy:
On infrastructure development, I am happy to note that the Patriotic Front government has continued to place priority on improving the road network in the province through programmes such as the Link Zambia 8000 and the Pave Zambia 2000.
Transport and communication technologies are important in achieving development goals and promoting citizen participation in social and economic progress.
Under Pave Zambia, distribution of equipment has been completed in all the provinces including Northern Province. Government is seriously looking for resources so that work on our township roads commences under this programme.
I am also elated to be associated with the Link Zambia 8000 project whose progress has been tremendous as can be seen from projects such as Mbala- Nakonde road, Kasama-Mporokoso road, Kasama-Mbesuma road and Luwingu- Mansa road.
Works on Luwingu – Chaba, Mporokoso-Kaputa, Luwingu-Kasaba and Nseluka-Kayambi are expected to commence soon.
In addition, upgrading of township roads in Mungwi, Mpulungu and Kasama districts are progressing well, while plans are underway, to upgrade township roads in Mbala, Mporokoso, Nsama and Kaputa districts.
My governmentâ€™s unwavering resolve to improve the countryâ€™s road network is yielding results. For the first time since independence our people will now have township roads of bituminous standards.
Under the agriculture sector, poor crop yields may be anticipated in Northern Province and other parts of the country due to long dry spells caused by late rains.
For this reason, I urge all district disaster management committees in Northern Province and the whole country to work closely with the office of the Vice-President to ensure that affected areas are urgently assisted.
In the year 2014, Government through the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) procured a total of 147,436 metric tonnes above the target of 95,000 metric tonnes of white grain maize valued at K206,252,830. Farmers who supplied the maize to the agency were paid their dues. Let me assure you that this year, my Government is committed to continuing with the programme and the floor-price will soon be announced.
In an effort to curb the sporadic foot and mouth disease (FMD) being experienced in Mbala and Mpulungu districts from spreading further, my Government has instituted a ban on stock movement and scaled up the slaughtering of affected animals including surveillance activities.
Other measures that Government is undertaking include:
â€¢ Construction and rehabilitation of livestock infrastructure. A total of five dip tanks are under construction while four are under rehabilitation in Mbala district at a total cost of K809,047.88
â€¢ Construction of the veterinary regional laboratory at a total cost of K3,600,000 in Kasama is underway
â€¢ Construction of community and public infrastructure under the livestock infrastructure support programme (LISP) is also underway. The project is being funded by the Zambian government in partnership with the African Development Bank
â€¢ Government has also revamped operations at Kalungwishi ranch to improve cattle breeding stock in the province. So far, the ranch has 60 breeding stock.
Regarding health infrastructure projects in the province, I am reliably informed that they are progressing well and let me cite the following:
â€¢ Construction of phase two Mpulungu district hospital has been completed, and phase three is at 80 percent.
Phase one of Chilubi District Hospital has been completed; contract for phase two works has been awarded.
â€¢ Rehabilitation of Lukupa (new midwifery school) an annex for Kasama School of Nursing has advanced and is 90 percent completed.
â€¢ Construction of Mungwi District Hospital has commenced and the contractor has moved on site.
â€¢ Sites for 35 out of 69 sites for the construction of pre-fabricated health posts have been handed over though the contractor has been a bit slow.
â€¢ We are following up the matter to ensure that we expedite the works. Materials for the super structure have been received by the province.
Under the education sector, success has also been made on the construction of new secondary schools in Chilubi, Mporokoso, Luwingu, Kaputa, Mpulungu and Kasama districts.
This project cost an estimated K350 million. The construction of these schools are at various levels are expected to be opened this year while others will be commissioned in 2016. Rehabilitation works were also carried out at Luwingu, Mporokoso and Mbala secondary schools.
In order to increase access to tertiary education, Government is constructing skills centres in Mbala, Mporokoso, Mpulungu, Luwingu and Chilubi districts.
Northern Province is endowed with abundant tourism resources, as well as, cultural heritage sites. Tremendous strides have been made in the development of tourism in the province. This includes infrastructure development at heritage sites, and formation of a northern tourism circuit to promote tourism.
Under the energy sector, the province has been facing serious challenges of intermittent power supply. To address this situation, Government has embarked on a number of projects which include the following:
â€¢ Upgrading of Lunzuwa Hydro-Power Station from the current 0.6 megawatts to the expected 14.8 megawatts. The project is completed and commissioned.
â€¢ Upgrading of the 66kv Pensulo to Kasama powerline to 330kv. This project is well advanced and is expected to be completed before the end of 2015. It is anticipated that the project will enable supply of industrial power to the province hence attracting industrial development.
â€¢ Upgrading of Chishimba Hydro-power from 6.8 megawatts to 14.8 megawatts is also expected to commence soon.
Once these projects are completed, load shedding and low voltage being experienced in Northern, Luapula, Eastern and Muchinga provinces will be greatly reduced.
In order to avert the challenges being faced by people regarding fuel, Government has embarked on projects to construct fuel service stations in Luwingu and Mporokoso districts. Contractors have already been shown the sites.
The province will also benefit from Governmentâ€™s programme of constructing bulky fuel storage facilities in Kasama like the one already functional at Mpika.
The development activities I have out lined are a clear testimony of my Governmentâ€™s dedication to deliver on the solemn promises we made to the Zambian people across the width and breadth of our country and the province in particular.
The country is going through unprecedented record of development in health, education, roads, communication, energy, and agriculture among others, and I can only urge all citizens to do more to move the country forward.
It is my sincere wish that this very important event that is being celebrated today will unify us.
As I conclude, may I extend to you, your royal highness long life and a successful reign?
I wish you all well and for those who have travelled from far places to come and witness this occasion, a safe journey back to your respective destinations.
May the Lord bless you all and bless our great nation Zambia as we unite under our motto â€œOne Zambia, one nationâ€™â€™.
The author is President of Zambia.