And President Lungu says his government will refine the constitution even if others are opposed to it.
Speaking when opening the 4th Session of the 12th National Assembly in Lusaka on Friday titled “Accelerating sustainable development for a better Zambia amidst the impact of climate change”, President Lungu also directed the Ministry of Energy to stop load shedding health centers and water supply points.
He said he sometimes drives around the city at night where he noticed that many areas were without electricity.
“As I sometimes drive around the city at night, I see more and more areas in darkness due to load shedding because our dams that generate power do not have water. I have heard of people failing to leave or enter their homes because their electric gates have mal-functioned because of power failure. It saddens me and I fail to imagine people living in high-density areas having to walk in darkness to and from their workplaces. Surely, this poses a serious security risk on our people,” President Lungu said. “I am aware, Mr Speaker, of some health facilities going without power for long periods of time and I begin to wonder how our health workers are looking after our patients without water and electricity. Sir, in view of the above, I am directing the Ministry of Energy from midnight tonight to prioritize power supply to hospitals and health centres. Further, the Ministry of Energy should prioritize energy supply to our water supply operations. This is a very serious matter that should not be taken lightly.”
He said the inability to have adequate water to generate power and grow enough food to feed the people have all been greatly caused by the effects of climate change.
“We all seriously need to understand and begin to appreciate this in detail and stop pointing fingers at each other for failure to grow our economy at the desired pace. Climate change is real. My fellow countrymen and women, I would like you to fully understand that this not my problem alone or the problem of my government alone. This is nature but even if it is nature, we need to join hands and see what we can do about it together [and] no question about it,” President Lungu said.
And President Lungu said his government has demonstrated to the Zambian people that they are “indeed a government that can be trusted to deliver on our promises”.
“Yes, successive governments have come and gone yet the constitution-making process has remained a process. It’s only us who brought in this constitution. Mr Speaker, I am on record having asked citizens and various stakeholders to read the draft of the constitution before it was finally enacted by this house. Politicians and various interest groups rose to the occasion to have the current constitution enacted in its current form. We braved the storm to deliver a revised constitution to the Zambian people, even at the risk of losing power. People are scared of 50 per cent plus one but we got it in and we scored. This selfless act on our part is enough testimony that we mean every word we say and it is for this reason that I appeal to all of you to support the current process [that] we are in. Yes, we are back once more on the process of refining it. We are back for one reason [which is] because my government is a listening government. If you don’t want to refine it, we will refine it,” he said.
And on budgetary expenditures, the Head of State revealed huge spending on personal emoluments and debt servicing at 90.1 per cent of the total budget, which he warned will affect the 2020 national budget.
“I want to place emphasis on the need to dismantle these arrears while curbing further accumulation of arrears. My government has taken this very seriously and I have directed those tasked with the responsibility of managing this debt stock to ensure that stringent measures are actively implemented,” President Lungu said. “Mr Speaker, our non-discretionary expenditure which comprises personal emoluments (PEs) and debt stands at 50.1 per cent and 40 per cent respectively, giving a total of 90.1 per cent of our annual budget. This leaves the discretionary amount to stand at 9.9 per cent of our annual budget. This Mr Speaker is an alarming ratio.”
On the civil service, he directed the Secretary to the Cabinet to clean up the public service payroll and ensure service delivery by civil servants reflected expenditure o their salaries.
“It is cardinal that personnel emoluments must be reflective of service delivery to the Zambian people. I have observed that this is not the case. It is for this reason that I have directed Secretary to Cabinet to immediately clean-up the public service payroll to stop this hemorrhage today and not tomorrow,” President Lungu said.
On the fight against corruption, he made a commitment that he will not relent but ensure progress is made.
“I will not stand and see greedy citizens destroy the good fiber of our nation. Indeed, I will not expect government under my charge to fail to provide for the people of Zambia. I can only urge those who are charged with the responsibility of ensuring that the fight against corruption is attained to work hard,” said President Lungu.