Lameck Mangani

Becoming President is not like witchcraft – Mangani

By Christopher Miti

FORMER home affairs minister Lameck Mangani says it is difficult to tell the performance of the UPND government in the past 20 months because they are experiencing governance issues for the first time.

Featuring on Breeze FM’s political hour programme, Mangani who served during Rupiah Banda’s administration said the frustrations of the people of Zambia were properly conveyed to the UPND.

“The anticipation of the people of Zambia is that the UPND should deliver and deliver very quickly. The UPND government understands the challenges that the people of Zambia have. Also, it is not like witchcraft that you just become a President and everything starts moving very well. There are challenges. One challenge I have indicated is that to form up a team is not easy! I must confess that the time they formed their Cabinet I was impressed because there was fair representation. I don’t know what has happened after the formation of the Cabinet,” he said.

Mangani said one of the critical challenges the country is facing is the economy.

“The economy is not performing very well. In order to improve our performance in terms of the economy you need a united team which is knowledgeable of what it wants to do. If you see signs of disorganisation, of conflict in terms of statements, you get worried because they have a duty to deliver to the people. If you also see some ministers showing laziness, it is also a source of concern because Zambians voted for the UPND for a purpose and the purpose was to answer their problems. So economic issues still look very serious,” he said.

Mangani said there are a lot of things that are supposed to be worked on in the agriculture sector.

“Agriculture is a backbone of Eastern Province and it can create employment. Levels of unemployment in the province are very high. In the past there were tobacco companies like Stancom, Alliance One. Those people were employing over 600 people per year. The province was able to accumulate about 45 million dollars coming into this province and this was coming from the agriculture sector and tobacco as a crop. So it was helping quite a lot,” he said.

Mangani suggested that cash crops like tobacco and cotton needed special space and that he was hopeful that agriculture minister Reuben Mtolo could do something on the matter.

“If the marketing of these crops is not well done farmers get frustrated. Right now I am coming from Lusaka, I found a lot of trucks laden with tobacco being ferried to Lusaka. We had tobacco floors in Eastern Province like in Chipata, Lundazi, Zemba and Mugubudu and the people were very happy. Right now, you get your tobacco to Lusaka and you stay there for sometime. You have no money to buy food, it is a risk,” he said. “I think the people demand that something better should be done. In that respect you can’t create jobs because there is no motivation.”

Mangani noted that there was no industry in Eastern Province and that this forced almost everyone to be involved in trading.

He suggested that people should engage the elected leaders and discuss how the challenges they were facing could be addressed.

Mangani said leaders at various levels from councillor to the President can be engaged on several things.

“I think this is a period of engagement rather than rushing quickly to 2026. We cannot wait for 2026. We need to sit down with our leaders and see how they can help the situation because there is a lot of suffering,” he said.

Asked whether he was still a PF member, Mangani answered in the affirmative but urged Zambians to concentrate on development and not political parties.

“We have to look at how we can be helped, the issue which is here is about the country. We have a government in place, we all have the duty to see to it that people benefit from the government by offering necessary advice. If we divide ourselves on political lines then we are not going to help matters,” he said. “If the road to Lundazi is not good, if the road to Chadiza is not good, it will not only affect one political party but it will affect all the people.”

Mangani said certain challenges could be addressed through teamwork and coordination.

“I don’t think anyone can refuse for us to sit down and look at the challenges in areas where we come from. Engagement is important, people have formed associations to help people. In this case we can meet if need arises, we can resolve to go and see the President. We can even sit with the chiefs. I don’t think I will take the powers of an MP if I do that,” he said. “I don’t think even the President will be annoyed because the people of Chipata want to meet him. Engagement is the best solution than just to sit and start mourning over problems.”

On reports that former president Edgar Lungu wants to come back to active politics, Mangani said he had no information on the matter.

“From the records I have checked, publicly he has said ‘I have retired’. Now I also get worried with some overzealous comments that Lungu this and that. Let us not dramatise issues. If we dramatise issues, we make things worse. At one time I warned the PF that these stories that you create when you wake up that HH has done this, HH has done that, are more less campaigning for him. Statements that are not properly analysed and have no evidence you blow them out of proportion, you are encouraging wrong things to happen,” he said.

Mangani also wished workers well on Labour Day which was observed on Monday.


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