Lungu urges youths to reject evil, hate in 2021 polls

GOVERNMENT officials are employed to serve you and not the other way round, President Edgar Lungu told youths on Saturday.

He said as the country heads to the general elections next year, youths should not accept to be used for violence because violence will just destroy the country.

“For the youth, my message to you is seize the opportunities as they present to you. I also want to take this opportunity to urge my dear youth not to accept to be used as agents of evil and hate in this peace-loving country. We have always known our youth as productive people who are there for their country,” President Lungu said. “As we head to the general elections next year, do not accept to be used for violence because violence will just destroy our country. As your government, the Patriotic Front government, we remain ready to work with you for the betterment of our country.”

During the re-launch of the ‘multisectoral approach on the youth empowerment programmes’ at Levy Mwanawasa Stadium in Ndola under the theme: ‘Youth, key to national development’, President Lungu urged the youths not to focus on one stream of income but learn to diversify their businesses as that way they have better chances of surviving should they be exposed to negative effects of climate change.

He said there was need to change the mindsets and invest more into research and development if the country was looking to accelerate economic development.

“Our young people are very innovative and we must believe in them. Let us not depend on young people from other countries to find solutions for us – our youth have the ability to provide locally grown solutions,” he said.

President Lungu said the country had seen a number of young people with innovative ideas but fail to fully develop those ideas as a result of limited investment in research and development.

He said he had directed the ministries of higher education and that of youth, sport and child development to expedite the process of identifying and supporting scientific innovations so that the brilliant young people can see their innovative ideas come true.

“I equally urge the private sector to take keen interest in the innovations by the young men and women and put aside resources to support innovative ideas. You equally stand to benefit as enterprises and as members of the community. I also call upon the youth not to feel embarrassed and shy away from experimenting – failing is part of gaining experience. Never forget that!” President Lungu said.

He said he was very delighted to interact with the Zambian youth who possess the energy and intuition that could unlock the country’s development potential for sustainable socio-economic growth.

President Lungu said the government remained fully committed to unlocking the potential of the Zambian youth to harness the demographic dividends.

“Our great nation – Zambia, has very high potential for growth due to its vast human and natural resource endowment,” he said.

President Lungu said the event was aimed at consolidating the implementation of youth empowerment programmes across government ministries, provinces and spending agencies.

He said the approach was in line with the government’s policy of delivering services in clusters as opposed to the silo approach.

“This is more effective and reduces the time that the youth spend moving from one office to the other. You, the young people have the energy and capability for unlocking the country’s development potential. It is for this very reason that my government remains committed to ensuring that we provide the necessary skills to ensure that you are able to utilise those skills to create wealth and eradicate poverty in our country, without leaving anyone behind,” he said.

President Lungu, however, said he was aware that skills alone may not bring about the desired change unless accompanied by other inputs and support systems such as access to land, affordable financing, start-up tools, or other materials that would help young people to start up a successful business.

He said the government had allocated K470 million for youth empowerment to the Ministry of Youth, Sport and Child Development targeting 150,000 beneficiaries.

“As it has already been mentioned, the theme for today’s event is ‘youth, the key to national development.’ The theme appropriately recognises that today’s young people constitute the majority of our population and have the ability to build a prosperous country. Our challenge is to harness this potential to enable the youth contribute positively to the country’s socio-economic development,” President Lungu said.

He said he strongly believed that the youth had the right to ask the government questions about their welfare.

“This is the more reason we are here today, to answer to your problems and ensure that you remain productive for your own benefit and for the benefit of our country. As a responsible government, the Patriotic Front government, our job is to listen and address the issues that the youth raise. This, therefore, should be the primary duty of each and every civil servant or public employee,” he said.

President Lungu said the government had heard the youth’s calls to be given opportunities to better their lives as well as contribute to national development.

He said Saturday’s event was not an accident and had been organised to respond to the various issues that the youth have raised at various fora.

President Lungu said he had directed the various ministries responsible for providing empowerment for the youth to work together, through the Ministry of Youth, Sport and Child Development, “so that these services are available to you using a multisectoral approach”.

He said the government’s duty was to leverage its resources at its disposal so that they get the maximum benefit from “our interaction”.

“Consequently, government has adopted a multisectoral approach to addressing the issues facing our young people. I do not want to see the youth being made to shuttle from one office to the other without being attended to,” President Lungu said. “Let me put it on record that, government officials are employed to serve you and not the other way round. Therefore, the multisectoral approach that the various ministries are demonstrating here today should not end up at provincial level but should be replicated at the district level. This is very much in line with the decentralisation policy.”

He said he remained convinced that the youth had the ability to rise above the challenges that they were encountering today.

“What you need is support for innovation, start-up capital and, in some cases, the requisite tools. However, you also need to demonstrate that you are willing to participate and contribute to your own wellbeing because you have the responsibility to do so. As the saying goes ‘God helps those who help themselves.’ This motto emphasises the importance of initiative and self-agency,” President Lungu said. “In short, it calls for one to be creative and willingness for one to contribute to changing their status. Therefore, our youths need to work together with your Patriotic Front government in order to make the positive change that we need in our country.”

He said as part of the government’s initiatives to facilitate practical empowerment and employment activities, the government would enroll apprentices and interns to enable them acquire the necessary experience that hinders them from applying for certain job categories because of the requirements for prior experience.

President Lungu said the programme aimed at reaching out to over 9,000 youths across the country in the next two years.

He said the youths would be provided with a monthly stipend to enable them meet some of their needs as they go about their business.

President Lungu said the government would continue to provide land to the youths that were interested in taking up agriculture as a serious business and not as a part time activity.

He said to that end, the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources had issued instructions to all the local authorities to make land accessible for the young people across the country.

President Lungu said this was not only restricted to state land, but also extended to traditional land.

He said in addition, the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries was implementing empowerment programmes in aquaculture and animal husbandry.

“Do not focus on one stream of income, learn to diversify your businesses, that way you have better chances of surviving should you be exposed to negative effects of climate change. As some of you will recall, in my address to the youth during the National Youth Forum held at the Mulungushi International Conference Centre on 11th March this year, I emphasised that the market for agriculture products in this region is immense. Further, I pointed out that agriculture and agri- business is a sure way of creating jobs and wealth for the youth,” he said. “This has not changed at all and the market is still available. It is not an easy undertaking but, again, nothing comes for free – you must be willing to work hard in order to attain your goals and live a comfortable life. There are no shortcuts!”

And President Lungu said the government has listened to the calls for the youths to get actively engaged in the mining of mineral wealth so that the country retained the proceeds from the sale of the precious minerals within the borders of the country.

He said the Ministry of Mines had commenced the process of supporting youth cooperatives with the requisite training and mining equipment.

“We want to see the youth cooperatives grow into large corporations that can provide employment to their fellow youths. Yes, the youth have the ability to grow their organisations into large corporate entities. What they need is the right motivation and guidance. Government stands ready to provide the necessary leadership and guidance,” he said.

President Lungu said he was aware that the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic had had negative effects on the economy and that enterprises had not been spared.

“In order to cushion the impact of COVID-19 on your enterprises, my government through the ministries of tourism and arts and youth, sport and child development, has set aside stimulus funds to support your businesses. The aim of the funds is to provide capital to micro, small and medium enterprises to remain profitable so as to avert the negative impact of the pandemic. I encourage you to utilise these funds prudently as they are meant to be a revolving fund so that your friends can equally benefit from the same. As we continue the implementation of a multi-sectoral approach to youth empowerment, I direct Ministry of Youth, Sport and Child Development to develop a comprehensive communication strategy which will ensure that the youth access the required information,” he said. “Let us not leave anyone behind – the strategy should take into account the youths in the hard to reach areas so that government programmes are spread to all parts of the country.”

President Lungu reassured the youth that the future was still very bright, bringing with it the promise of a Zambia which had shared prosperity, of equal opportunity for all, and where you the youth were its greatest asset.

He said while the government had developed specific programmes for the youth, there was still need to dialogue.

“We need to hear your views and take them into account. Please give us your innovative ideas and we assure you that we will promote small and medium scale youth enterprises and help those that want to start their businesses,” he said.

President Lungu reiterated that the implementation of empowerment programmes would not only be accessed from the ministry headquarters in Lusaka but should be accessed at district level where the youth were found.

He said the provincial and district officials need to be proactive to ensure that this becomes a reality.

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