STEVEN MVULA, Lusaka
A RECENT four-day tour of Shiwang’andu by President Lungu left him asking more questions than he could get the answers to.
The President, who appeared visibly upset, was touring infrastructure projects in the district of Muchinga Province when he demanded to know why they had stalled. It was certainly not what he expected to see.
If anyone could give an update to President Lungu on why exactly there was a delay in the completion of projects, it was Shiwang’andu Member of Parliament, Steven Kampyongo, who accompanied the President on the tour. But Mr Kampyongo could not provide a satisfactory response.
The President registered his displeasure in the presence of chiefs Mukwikile, Kabanda and Chibesakunda at the Shiwang’andu civic centre.
“This is really depressing,” President Lungu said. “Mr Kampyongo, this is your own area. What I have seen here is unacceptable. Why should all these projects stall? What are we going to tell people in 2021? What are we going to point at here?”
The President reminded Mr Kampyongo that he further carries the title of Minister of Home Affairs yet the police station in Shiwang’andu remains incomplete, which is unfair to him and the people that voted for him as MP in their thousands in order to see development.
But President Lungu also said he believes in equal and equitable development to all parts of the country including regions which did not vote for him as president because as a leader his duty is to represent everyone.
What he discovered in Shiwang’andu was a serious cause for concern and by his own admittance did not match the reports he receives in Lusaka or reflect the Patriotic Front (PF) agenda which seeks to develop all parts of Zambia in line with the party’s vision and manifesto.
President Lungu insisted that his administration should meet the expectations of people.
“Whether we fail or succeed, the buck stops at me. People will not look at any minister but they will look at Lungu and blame him,” he said.
As a supervisor the President said he would not allow any minister or leader to frustrate development programmes for the nation and promised to visit the province again mid-year.
Among the districts visited by President Lungu during the tour were Chama, Lavushimanda, Shiwang’andu and Chinsali.
President Lungu’s Special Assistant for Projects Implementation and Monitoring, Andrew Chellah found it hard not to disagree with the President’s sentiments.
“I totally agree with the President. Some projects are above 90 percent completion yet in the last four years have stalled. We have a problem in Muchinga. And the President should not be the one to inspect projects. His is to launch and commission but because of stalled projects, he has had to come himself,” Mr Chellah explained.
While the delayed projects riled the head of State, he was able to cool off at a rally held at Kalantekwe grounds.
The rally atmosphere was electric and President Lungu took to his feet to dance as music blared loudly through speakers and across the grounds.
The light moment was momentary and a brief distraction because the President once more expressed his concern at the lack of progress on projects initiated as far back as 2011.
It hurt him because the people of Muchinga Province voted for the PF in large numbers both in the 2011 and the 2016 general elections and he wondered what had gone wrong. He chose to reassure them.
Addressing the people of the province at a rally he said: “You the voters hold the real power. You determine the destiny of politicians. Without you, PF would not be here, Edgar Lungu would not be here. So we will deliver on the promises we made. I will not sit back and watch the areas that voted for me being neglected. I want equal and equitable distribution of development.”
At the same rally, he also donated 120 bicycles for party mobilisation and three million school books to be distributed to pupils free of charge.
Former Forum for Development and Democracy (FDD) spokesperson and deputy secretary general Antonio Mwanza who was present during the rally said politics is not about insults but about taking development to people.
“President Lungu is taking development everywhere in this country. He means well for the people. Why should I be insulting him? I will instead support him,” Mr Mwanza said.
The President’s diary during the tour also included a meeting with civil servants and party officials.
He was running late and the weather was not helicopter friendly because the skies had opened up and let down rain but he still met the two groups of people waiting for him.
“One Zambia, One Nation is not a political motto or slogan, all of us are bound by it. We all belong to the same government, whether you are PF or not, civil servant or not,” President Lungu said to the two groups.
He advised the civil servants not to be at variance with the PF manifesto as it is what guides the development of the country.
“I am aware some of you say you are not politicians but this government was formed by the PF so whether you belong to another, follow our manifesto, know it and that way you will not court trouble for yourself,” President Lungu said.
He also warned party officials against intimidating civil servants who he said should be guided when they fall short.
“I know that some of our party officials threaten civil servants with dismissals. You boast that you have my direct line and so you will report them to me,” President Lungu said.
At the same meeting, President Lungu apologised to farmers for a bumpy start in the implementation of the electronic voucher system.
He said Government will not backtrack on the e-voucher system because it has saved a lot of money from those who were siphoning using the old system.