We are relieved to learn that President Edgar Lungu intends to work from the Copperbelt for a period of 5 days starting next week. In the past the President spent way too much time visiting other countries when our own country has numerous problems. We hope this a change for the better.
Nonetheless we are very much aware that even though this is a local trip, it still gives rise to extra costs to the government in terms of travel expenses, accommodation, allowances, etc for the President and the people travelling with him. We therefore implore the President to be cognisant of these extra costs and limit his entourage accordingly. This is the least we can expect of him in view of the ever dwindling national treasury and his lavish trip recently to New York.
We don’t expect the President to spend his time on the Copperbelt campaigning, feting cadres and meeting people whom he hopes will help improve his political fortunes.
We expect the President to work. We expect the President to meet the mining houses to give reassurance to them over the power shortages that have severely affected their operations. We expect him to discuss what relief his government has for them in view of falling copper prices. Such an approach would help secure jobs on the Copperbelt.
The President must also address the issue of cheap imported labour. These jobs must be reserved for Zambians. Foreigners should only fill even some senior mining jobs where a mining company proves that the required skills are not available in Zambia.
President Lungu must take time to face up to the at least 1,600 miners and their families who lost their jobs as a result of the closure of Baluba mine, and elsewhere, to console them and discuss his alternatives for them. He should also assure the miners that there will be no more job losses.
The President must also take this opportunity to meet students and lecturers from Copperbelt University to provide solutions to the problems that have rocked the institution for almost a year now.
Generally, the President must address the ever rising cost of living which is worse for the people on the Copperbelt because of the closure of some mines. President Lungu must tackle the rising prices of mealie meal, bread and other essential commodities, which is making the lives of the people on Copperbelt specifically, and Zambians in general, very unbearable.
Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba
UPND Vice-President Administration