Chipili MP calls Lungu’s address to parliament as tired, midnight speech

CHIPILI Independent member of parliament Jewis Chabi has branded as a tired speech President Edgar Lungu’s address to the Second Session of the 12th National Assembly last Friday.
Chabi said the Head of State’s speech should have gone beyond the smart way of “just buying airtime and transacting” to also handling issues of creating a system that could identify potential where it could be found.
He lamented that as things stood today, It was not a question of how qualified one was but who they knew for them to get employment.
“So a speech Mr speaker, a presidential speech that only comes once in a year…a presidential speech that does not respond and answer to the corruption allegations levelled against the President in order to save the image and protect the reputation of that office is a tired speech. So Mr. Speaker, we can’t sit here as leaders and start singing praises about the speech that has failed to give hope to the people of Zambia,”
Chabi said.
“As far as this speech is concerned, it is midnight, Mr. Speaker, in the moral order of this country. So as leaders and a President who was given a responsibility by the people to give us a direction, we expect really Mr. Speaker better things than what we were given on Friday last week.”
On President Lungu’s statement stressing his government’s commitment to diversifying the economy, from dependence on mining to agriculture, which he said must be achieved against all odds, Chabi asked how possible this was when the actual players, the small scale peasant farmers, were not being motivated.
As Chabi was debating, a member rose to interrupt the debate through a point of order but Speaker Matibini gave guidance.
“The practice is, if you have a divergent view, wait until your turn comes because if we allow points of order in the course of the debate; first of all we will undermine the meaning of the points of order themselves and two, the debates will be disrupted, so take note of all the issues he is raising and when your turn comes, you also respond to what he has said. That’s the essence of the debate,”
Speaker Matibini guided.
Chabi said his was to highlight the loopholes so that cabinet members “can come back and try to give energy to this tired, this declared tired speech”.
“…as far as I am concerned, this is a tired speech until such a time when our colleagues will start responding to some of the issues that we are raising here because these are realities,” he said.
“When I talk about rural health centres not being constructed in Luapula, it is true they are not constructed. If we talk about the corruption allegation against the President, it is true those allegations are there and have not been responded to by this speech. Therefore, the office of the President, the reputation is being damaged.”
Chabi said he had problems understanding President Lungu’s diversification statement because the farmer, who was the major player, was not motivated.
“What is happening now Mr Speaker is that the farmer is selling a 50kg bag of maize at K60, this price was left by Levy Mwanawasa in 2008 but if you look at the bottle of cooking oil, Mr. speaker, how much was it costing in 2008? It was K5 but today the bottle of cooking oil is K15,” he said.
“If you look at a pair of trousers for a farmer, a pair of trousers for a farmer in 2008 when a bag of maize was being sold at K60 was K30, now the same pair of trousers in my constituency is K120, meaning that the farmer in 2008 was able to buy two trousers by selling one bag of maize. Now a farmer is supposed to sell two bags of maize for him to get a pair of trousers, these are realities. All that we are demanding for, as the people of Chipili and Luapula and people of Zambia at large, is answers and this is what we were expecting from the President to explain why.”
Chabi also quoted President Lungu’s statement that during the 2016-2017 farming season, his government and the private sector managed to bring on board an additional 8,000 hectares of land under irrigation thereby increasing the total area of irrigation from 192,000 to 200,000 hectares.
“I come from Luapula Mr. speaker and the question I have here is very simple; we all know that 60 per cent of the water bodies in this country are in Luapula Province and yet the people of Luapula have not yet seen a single hectare of this irrigation project there,”
Chabi said.

“We need answers and we were expecting the President to answer to this, that’s, all nothing else. Other than this, it means this speech is tired, nothing but tired,” he said.

Chabi said on page 55 of his speech, the Head of State told the House that construction works for King Lewanika and FTJ universities were expected to commence very soon.

“This is not true Mr. Speaker because the construction of King Lewanika University as we speak is underway, some of the structures there are even on roof level. This is in public domain. And the FTJ University in Luapula, Mr. Speaker, not even excavation works are done there, so how can the President come here and say the works on these two universities will commence soon when the other university is already under construction, how?”
asked Chabi.
“What does he take the people of Luapula for? This is a tired speech Mr. speaker and because it is tired, Mr. speaker, allow me to proclaim that as long as this is the kind of speeches we will be expecting from our leaders, the people we give responsibilities to give us a direction and if this is what we are going to receive Mr. Speaker, then it’s midnight in the governance system of this country; I thank you.”

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