MPEZENI, the paramount chief of Ngonis, has asked government to create industries in rural areas to prevent rural-urban migration.
And President Lungu says he will not tire in his efforts to promote national unity.
Meanwhile, President Lungu says planning for the 2017-2018 needs to start now to avoid challenges faced in the current farming season.
In a speech read on his behalf by Brighton Ngoma during the Nc’wala traditional ceremony in Mtenguleni on Saturday, Mpezeni said migrations from rural to urban areas had continued especially among the youth in search of employment.
“We implore your government to start attracting industries to rural areas and we as chiefs are proud to partner with you through releasing the traditional land,” Mpezeni said.
And Mpezeni said traditional leaders would continue assisting the government in the eradication of child abuse and early marriages in communities.
He said from 2013 when former first lady Dr Christine Kaseba launched the campaign against early marriages and child abuse, the prevalence rate for the province had dropped to 40 per cent from 63 per cent.
Mpezeni also thanked President Lungu for granting Chipata the city status.
“We are happy and proud that we are the only city off the line of rail. As a listening President, I hope we are not asking for too much but we would like to see Feni become a sub-centre. We are also
expectant that the Chipata airport project should take off sooner than later,” he said.
Mpezeni also urged the government to work on the Sinda-Petauke stretch of the great East Road but said he was happy with the construction of the Matumbo-Chama road.
He urged government to relook at the Nacala corridor link.
Mpezeni also hoped that the government had learnt from the challenges faced this season in the implementation of the e-voucher system and Farmer Input Support Programme.
In response, President Lungu agreed that the e-voucher system was clogged with challenges and advised that planning for the next season should begin immediately.
“The situation had become difficult for my government to find solutions to these challenges. In this regard, we need to start planning now for the 2017/2018 season based on lessons we have learnt.
I must confess that the system should be given chance because it is a good system,” he said.
And President Lungu urged Zambians to live in harmony regardless of their beliefs, denomination, tribe and political affiliations.
“We all belong to this great nation; hardly a day passes without getting to hear or read about insinuations of tribalism. This country was not founded on divisive thinking or behaviour but on values that contained harmony,” he said.
President Lungu said he would not tire in his effort to promote national unity.
“In this regard, I will fearlessly continue to embrace the wisdom of support from our traditional leaders and other stakeholders. The government commitment to preserve traditional ceremonies cannot be
over emphasized,” he said.
President Lungu further said the government would this year embark on the extension of the Chipata/Mchinji railway line to TAZARA through Petauke, a project expected to cost not less than K2.3 billion.
He said the project was likely to start at the end of May.
“This is a very serious project and I expect all government departments involved in to ensure the project starts not later than May 2017. The project will be completed in four years and government has full confidence in the contractor China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation which has been awarded this 388.8 kilometre railway line from Chipata to Petauke up to Central
Province,” said President Lungu. JC/News