“We choose not to call it transfer of power…” but “transfer of leadership…”
His Excellency Hakainde Hichilema said this at his inauguration as the new President of Zambia, where he extended an olive branch to outgoing President Edgar Lungu and opposition parties, and rallied the nation to come together and focus on improving socio-economic development.
“Fellow Zambians, our focus over the next five years will be on restoring macro-economic stability and promoting growth of the economy because we know what this brings,” President Hichilema told a cheering crowd at National Heroes Stadium where he was inaugurated as Zambia’s seventh President on August 24.
“We must put aside our election related and other differences and pull in one direction as a country. We have a lot more things that unite us than those that divide us. We must devote our energies to contribute meaningfully to our national development.”
President Hichilema, who described himself as a “simple village boy”, said “economic diplomacy” will be his government’s key focus in its dealings with neighbouring countries, the region, continent and international community.
“We do not take this responsibility lightly, we will be your servants and you will truly be our masters,” he said, adding that the new administration will aim to “grow our economy so that we lift more people out of poverty than ever before.”
President Hichilema said addressing unemployment, lack of capital for entrepreneurs, and substance abuse among the youth, will also remain a priority for the new government.
“We will undertake an ambitious economic and social transformation agenda to move Zambia forward, create equitable opportunities for all our people, and reduce poverty. We will aggressively promote the creation of jobs and opportunities that will create wealth, especially for our youth, women and indeed all citizens,” he said.
With regard to agriculture, he said this is the backbone of the economy and there is need to invest more in ensuring food security.
“In agriculture, we will work to enhance production, agricultural extension services, market access, value addition and lowering the cost of inputs,” he said, adding that “no Zambian should go to bed hungry.”
President Hichilema also said a “competent economic team” based on “competence, diversity and ability to deliver” will be set up to deal with the challenges facing the Zambian economy including high public debt.
He thanked Mr Lungu, who attended the inauguration, “for his service to the nation and facilitating a smooth transition”.
“We will not be going out for retribution or vengeance,” President Hichilema said.Ten regional and continental leaders attended the inauguration. –sardc.net