PRESIDENT Edgar Lungu yesterday took an unusual disposition branding his critics as fools, as he boasted of his government’s development exploits.
The Head of State was commissioning the Arcades Flyover.
He recalled that only two days prior to yesterday, he led the nation in remembering PF founding president Michael Sata whose vision was to see a transformed Zambia through infrastructure development.
He said Sata could not have been disappointed seeing what he had done in achieving his dream.
President Lungu said Lusaka and Zambia had been transformed.
He said he was in Luapula Province where he heard a slogan “PF ilebomba, utupuba tuletalika (PF is working while fools are disputing the works)”.
“Ifintu filecinja, utupuba tuletalika, translated, this simply means that Zambians should be told that when PF is working, I don’t know whether the word is foolish people or idiots, I don’t know…but people who are dull in mind are arguing that nothing is being done. I remember in Parliament debating the word foolish, stupid idiot and all those things but I don’t want to go there but all in all they are saying Ifwe tulebomba, utupuba tuletalika,” he said.
President Lungu said Zambians always have stories to tell when they visit countries that have modern infrastructure like road networks, shopping malls, internet connectivity and many other nice things.
“…not anymore. We have created our own beautiful cities, our own beautiful sites, including here where we are right now (Arcades Flyover). Just take a minute and look around; what do you see?” President Lungu asked. “We have a marvel of a flyover bridge I am commissioning today. We have built other flyover bridges and we are building more and more. What about the shopping malls around Zambia, the universities, the hospitals, the airports and still the greatness of the Mongu-Kalabo bridge and the Kazungula bridge which is about to be commissioned?”
President Lungu repeated: “Ifwe tulebomba utupuba tuletalika.”
He noted that sometimes his critics were using the same roads but still arguing that the PF were not working.
“What about the roads that have been built or rebuilt in Zambia? All these and many other infrastructures have been built by my administration in the very shortest possible time of our stay in government. But ba kulatalika (they will be arguing),” President said. “This is the promise that we made to the Zambian people, and we are not ashamed to tell our people that, yes we have borrowed and we are borrowing to change the face of Zambia.”
President Lungu said someone asked him about what he would tell Zambians on commissioning the flyover and that his response was that “I will boast”.
“Boasting ni mahala, kusonta apo wabomba, boasting is free (just point where you have worked),” he said. “Of course, our critics have said, and they continue to campaign, that we were reckless for having borrowed. But they are shy to tell the people frankly and add how that money we borrowed has been used. This is how that money we borrowed has been used. If I may ask; what is better, borrowing to transform the country; or not borrowing and doing nothing at all? Borrowing, yes, as long as you don’t chew the money. The same people are enjoying the benefits of our borrowing.”
President Lungu said it was from borrowing that his administration had managed to rebuild Lusaka.
He said some people question why many projects were concentrated in Lusaka but he said it was the face and capital of Zambia.
He noted that even international travellers arrive in Lusaka first before driving or flying to other areas of the country.
“But then again, investment can only come to Lusaka and the rest of Zambia if we have a proper road network because investors do not want to put up factories or investments where there are no roads,” President Lungu said. “How can they transport their products where there are bad roads or no roads at all? Investors believe in efficiency, and they do not want to spend too much time on short distances on bad roads.”
President Lungu said once investors flood Zambia due to good roads, jobs would be created.
“And that is what I care about. I want every Zambian to be in work to contribute to the development of our country. It pains me to see our youth come to events like this uninvited often times only because they have little or nothing else to do,” President Lungu noted. “I want the youth to be in employment of any kind and contribute to rebuilding mother Zambia. We need to rebuild Zambia together. This is why when my critics talk about stopping projects I tell them, do you want the lucky few who are in employment to be thrown out into the streets soon? The answer is no.”
He said it was rebuilding Zambia that would create employment, and that projects by his government had helped to keep people in employment.
President Lungu thanked the Indian government for the financial support to the Lusaka decongestion project.
“My government has committed to finance 15 per cent of the project while the Indian government, through Exim Bank has committed 85 per cent funding to the project which is in the process of decongesting Lusaka,” he said. “The total road works is 120.7 kilometres and I am happy that Zambian contractors, apart from Afcons of India, are participating in rebuilding Lusaka. Even Afcons have employed Zambian engineers and other workers. The details of this project include a new outer ring road that has been built from Kafue road to new Mumbwa road. It further stretches from Lusaka west and joins the great north road. One of these days I will invite you to join me drive along this new stretch which is going to decongest Lusaka and see for yourselves,” President Lungu said.
He said apart from the Arcades flyover, the Munali flyover, which was yet to be completed and the Makeni flyover which was completed and commissioned, works were underway at the Longacres roundabout for another flyover.
He also said works were in progress at the Kabwe and Kafue flyovers.
“Not only that, we have seen the expansion of roads at Musi-o-tunya, Chindo-Bishop, Friday’s Corner, Nangwenya-Kamloops-Alick Nkhata, Kamloops, Longacres to Alick Nkhata, Kudu Road and Kabulonga road. Also expanded are Munali-Mutumbi, Kafue-Mumbwa, Zambezi road and Nangwenya road. More importantly, through this project alone, over 1,000 direct jobs have been created and numerous business opportunities for Zambians made available,” President Lungu said. “We surely as PF government deserve accolades for this amazing and unprecedented development. Tutoteliniko (applaud us).”
President Lungu recalled former first lady, Christine Kaseba-Sata, saying upon arrival from France that she got lost when she saw the new road network.
“Yes, madam, we have fulfilled your dear husband’s dream. And we will continue fulfilling that vision. I know when we were campaigning people were saying where is your vision Edgar? I said the vision is shared collectively in PF as a vision by president Sata…we will continue with that vision,” he said.
President Lungu said Dr Kaseba was not the only one to appreciate the works, as a diplomat who left Zambia and was visiting recently, could not remember many areas of Lusaka, including where he used to stay because of the way it has been transformed.
“But utupuba tuletalika,” he repeated.
President Lungu urged Zambia’s cooperating partners to continue supporting his government because “we have the will and the zeal to rebuild Zambia”.
He also urged all Zambians to appreciate what “we have done and encourage us to even do more.”
He ended his address by pledging not to speak much saying time will come in August next when campaigns for elections begin.
“That’s when I will speak,” said president. “I will keep quiet from now on.”
And Lands minister Jean Kapata said Sata’s shoes were getting small for President Lungu and that they now need to change his size.
Indian High Commissioner to Zambia Ngulkham Jathom Gangte hoped the projects would ignite further corporation with the Zambian government for the development of infrastructure in future.
He said the landmark structure that was commissioned yesterday would stand as a testimony to the enduring symbol of goodwill and long standing friendship that exist between the two countries which has continued to grow.