I’m ready for criticism, insults – Lungu

PRESIDENT Edgar Lungu says he is ready for criticism, falsehoods and insults about what his government is doing. However, President Lungu says Zambians are seeing what government is doing. Talking to journalists on Friday when he toured the over US$23 million Kalindawalo General Hospital project in Petauke district, President Lungu said he would keep on working.

“We can’t keep talking and quarrelling, what I have seen in Zambia is that whatever you do, you are going to be criticised so I am ready for criticism,” he said. “I am ready for insults, I’m ready for falsehoods about what government is doing but Zambians are seeing. All we need is for Zambians to see so priorities can change as the economy grows or gets affected by the international factors and so on. In Zambia, we are depending on copper for our economy, sometimes the price of copper collapses. Do you think we can go with the price? We have to adjust.”

President Lungu said this when he was asked to clarify on his investment priorities as other stakeholders feel some sectors were getting more attention than others. He said the government was growing the economy, creating jobs and also wants to industrialise Zambia.

President Lungu said not everything could be done in one day.

“We are talking about agriculture but it doesn’t happen in one day or one week. Only God was able to create the world in seven days. All economies we are talking about had their own turbulence and no economy is static,” he said. “Economies can either grow or collapse. For us here in Zambia, what is happening is not strange. Those who think the world is made out of wishes let them be but the world is made out of hard work.”

President Lungu said he wants people to have access to healthcare as close to their homes as possible.

“We want people to have access to health facilities within the vicinity of their homes if possible less than five kilometres or two kilometres from their houses and that we are doing. But I believe that health service workers should be well spread throughout the country so that they are able to tell our people what not to do and what to do so that at the end they enjoy good health,” he said. “Mental health is the one we have been talking about lately. We all think we cannot catch it but it does affect us sometimes and so we should be listening to those who know better. So health is very important because our investment in health is investment in the future of this country, particularly the younger ones.”

Asked whether he was happy with the progress that has been made, President Lungu said “we can do better if we can have resources.”

“You have noticed yourselves since you are here but we can do better if only we had the resources. Resources are shared, there is need for education, need for infrastructure, need for health, need for defence. Everyone needs money but it’s the mention of like I said in the example I gave about  the family…when the child is alone, the first born, it’s easier for you to spoil that child but when you get two, you get three, you will find that your capacity to give them the lavish [life] that you experienced with the first child is no longer there,” he said.

“So you have to begin to rationalise your expenses and so on. If you used to get five castle [beer] every weekend, you have to stop so that you take your children to school and so on. So there are all these things. In life it’s about consultations, talking to each other and listening to the voices outside, especially those who are affected by your decisions and explaining to them that we are doing this because we want you to be able to eat some more tomorrow, to be able to have a school place, to be able to have a roof over your head, clean water and all these things. So some of these things are very complex things, that’s why some of the people are complaining and talking about…. We are saying ‘tamwatekapo inkalenifye [you have never ruled, just stay put]’ you don’t know what you are talking about, leave those of us who are in, who know how heavy it is and how difficult it is..”

The Head of State also directed health minister Dr Chitalu Chilufya to ensure that the land on which the general hospital is being built is titled to avoid encroachment.

Earlier, Dr Chilufya said the hospital would be the first advanced general hospital in the region which would not only provide health services but also training of health personnel. Ministry of Health permanent secretary for administration Malalelo Kakubelo said the 850 bed capacity health facility which is set for completion next year would have an oxygen plant, mental health services, outpatient, radiology, orthopaedic departments, a maternity wing and an Intensive Care Unit (ICU).

Kakubelo also said the general hospital would have two water tanks with a capacity of 35,000 litres each, laundry and 25 staff houses. Housing and infrastructure permanent secretary Charles Mushota said construction works were currently at 84 per cent to completion.

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