FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
12th November 2014
A NEW DAWN HAS COME
Fellow countrymen and women;
The past two weeks have not been easy for our country. We lost our President His Excellency Mr. Michael Chilufya Sata (MHSRIP) on 28th October 2014. Nonetheless, we should take pride in the way have come together peacefully to mourn the passing of our President.
I am very proud as a Zambian, that during this period we held onto our culture and the peace which we have always enjoyed. Of course there were some unsavory incidences but these were largely isolated. Indeed, we have put our late President to rest with the honour and dignity he deserved.
But it should not be only in difficult times that we come together as a nation, but at all times. It is only by moving forward in unity that real progress may be made.
Once more, our country is at a crossroads. This is not a time to be driven purely by emotion and sentiment. This, for us, must be a time for deep introspection and reflection. How do we move our country forward? How do we enter the next 50 years of our nationhood? As we approach the Presidential by-election we, the UPND, appeal to the nation to move forward together in harmony, respect and common brotherly spirit.
We have made history by being alive at a time when our country has attained 50 years of Independence, our golden jubilee. God has blessed Zambia with abundant resources, but we have not been fulfilling our potential due to poor Governance and management which could optimize these resources for everyone’s benefit.
I agree, our 50 years journey has not been an easy one. It has been full of hardships. Many of us have experienced and are still experiencing these hardships on a personal level. Our unemployment rate remains abnormally high. Maternal and infant mortality remain extremely high, 50 years after independence. And we are still struggling to make significant gains in governance and democracy. Now is the time to stop dragging our feet and getting distracted by infighting that not only hurts us, but also hurts our children and future generations. Now is the time for Zambia to once again unite as one and fulfill our potential in a new dawn that will bring jobs, improved education systems and develop better health care facilities. Despite these present hardships, we have every reason to be hopeful. When I look to the future, I see hope, I see prosperity for our country.
I draw my hope from the unique endowment of our country. Sixty eight percent of our land is arable and good for agriculture. We have untapped mineral resources. We hold almost 40 percent of all fresh water in Southern Africa and our climate is among the best in the world. Young people make up 55 percent of our population and majority of our people are hard working and very honest. We do not shy away from entrepreneurship. We are among the most hospitable countries in the world. This is what we are blessed with as a nation.
But to build a better Zambia depends on the decisions we make henceforth. It is our responsibility, you and me, to take our country forward. Our founding fathers and mothers brought us political freedom. Now it is time for us to bring economic emancipation for the present and for posterity.
It is time to strengthen our economy to allow for job creation, stable prices and wealth redistribution. We can only do this through prudent economic management. We need a strong and stable economy to support our middle class and SMEs which are basically struggling for survival. The middle class and SMEs are key to economic growth. We must support our economic development with a strong agriculture sector, free appropriate and good quality education, and quality healthcare.
We must build on the foundation that our past leaders and generations have built. You as an individual can do this firstly by participating in the upcoming election.
This is not time to be driven by sectoral and partisan interests but the common good. Those that are putting themselves forward in this election must be looked at critically, by voters, their abilities to deliver and capacity to hold this high office.
Voters must ask the questions and the candidates must answer. This is the spirit of democracy. The man or woman who the people of Zambia will choose shall become the custodian of the hopes and aspirations of thirteen million Zambians for the next two years. His or her decisions will affect our lives for many years to come and the lives of our children and their children’s children.
We must continue with the infrastructure development but at an accelerated pace. Infrastructure is the conduit for economic development. I have always maintained that where a good road goes, development goes. Nonetheless, infrastructure development must be done in such a manner that it does not hurt economic fundamentals. We must increase our revenue collection capacity to fund our infrastructure as opposed to borrowing expensive money. And in some cases we must partner with the private sector (Private Public Partnerships) so as to reduce pressure on the public purse.
Brothers and sisters, there is no better moment than this, for us all to realize the importance of a people driven constitution. If our constitution allowed for a running mate, the expense of a Presidential by-election would have been avoided all together. It is simply mind boggling that we must hold three Presidential elections within a space of six years. It is time we stopped playing games with the people’s aspirations and give them what they want. As UPND, we will not waste time in delivering a new constitution.
Lastly, I call upon my fellow politicians that we continue to restrain ourselves. We should put our country Zambia above our personal interests. Politics is just a competition to serve and, as in any competition, there will always be winners and losers. Let political parties adhere to the rules stipulated in their constitutions in choosing their candidates for the upcoming elections. This is the only way to avoid anarchy. Above all, let us observe the rule of law at all times.
Let us take Zambia forward.
I thank you and once again may the soul of the late President, Michael Chilufya Sata, rest in eternal peace.