THOSE who want to be president must wait until I am tired, President Edgar Lungu told Zambians living in New York on Wednesday.
And President Lungu says he doesn’t mind vote-buying if it will cause people to ascribe to the One Zambia, One Nation notion.
Meanwhile, first lady Esther Lungu caused some murmuring during the dinner event when she referred to gender minister Professor Nkandu Luo as “my rival”.
Responding to a question from Ndakala Siame, who introduced himself as a Copperbelt University graduate, President Lungu said those who want to be president will have to wait until he was tired.
Siame wanted to know what was causing divisions in the country and within PF.
“Let us not dwell on things which divide us because we will remain alone in isolation. The rest of Zambia will move. We were at the UN talking about people not being left behind but in Zambia, those of you who want to remain behind by being divided and isolated, you will remain behind and the rest of Zambia will move on. So I can assure you that differences are there and will always be there but there is unity in diversity, including in our own political dispensation. When we differ because we want to elect a new president, that is for that period only,” he said. “That is how I became President.
Those I have in my government as ministers were vying for this position and they came to terms with the reality of our democracy and they have moved on. So those who are saying they want to be president, they have to wait until I am tired.”
President Lungu said anyone who was moving away from the notion of One Zambia, One Nation was wasting their time.
“Those who are giving me space, I will also give them space when they form government. So the politics of Zambia is founded and based on One Zambia, One Nation and we will not move away from that because anyone who moves away from that is clearly isolated and is wasting his time,” President Lungu said.
“You are saying that we are divided in the party, but that is why I am here saying One Zambia, One Nation because I have realised that we are divided. Because even the voting patterns showed division but these divisions will not last as long as I remain here.”
And President Lungu said he does not mind appointing people from different regions into foreign service even if it meant vote buying.
“Someone was telling me that, ‘You have appointed someone from Barotseland into Foreign Service, are you trying to buy the Barotse voters?’ I said why not? If appointing one man will buy me the Lozis to subscribe to One Zambia, One Nation, why not?” he wondered.
“I am not appeasing anybody in my appointments. What I am doing is to try as much as possible to make sure that we belong to this One Zambia, One Nation because One Zambia, One Nation is not the President. Zambia is you and I pointed out to say ‘look, it is not only that one Lozi person I have appointed, I have appointed people from the region’. Let us be proud of where we are coming from. Let us be Zambians first and we are privileged to represent the region.”
President Lungu also reiterated his call for Zambians in the diaspora to come back and invest in the country, promising that government would make the environment favourable for them.
Meanwhile, Esther called Prof Luo her “rival”.
“Your Excellency Mr President Chagwa Lungu, I really find it difficult to go that far…. Our Minister of Foreign Affairs honourable Kalaba, our Minister of Works and Supply Mr Yamfwa Mukanga, my rival honourable Nkandu Luo, honourable Emerine Kabanshi, our deputy secretary general Mumbi Phiri,” Esther laughed as she stared at her husband.
“I know we are facing a difficult situation back home. And you feel for the people back home, but with God, all things are possible. I am therefore urging each and every one of us to commit ourselves to God and see what he has in store for Zambia.”
President Lungu then stood up to ‘clear the air’ on Prof Luo.
“Cabinet ministers present, I will introduce you. This is honourable Nkandu Luo, minister in charge of Chiefs and Traditional Affairs. Oh! Sorry, I still see you as that. She is minister in charge of Gender. She used to be in charge of chiefs but I still have a hangover from January last year. She is minister in charge of Gender but currently, she is doing a bit of work with me here on the girl child, women and their role in development. That’s why I brought her here. She is also a rival I am told but those are details,” said President Lungu.
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