INFORMATION minister Dora Siliya has pleaded with traditional leaders to forgive the PF government and give it another chance in power.
Siliya says the PF are not ready to hand over power to anyone unless in 2026.
Speaking to about 300 village headmen and indunas at Mwala Hills on Sunday, Siliya said at times those in government go wrong but they need to be forgiven and prayed for.
She begged them to sensitise the people not to vote President Edgar Lungu out next year because it would disadvantage development in Eastern Province, which was in the pipeline.
She told them that if Easterners would not vote in numbers then President “Lungu will lose the way Rupiah [Banda] lost”.
She said people in Eastern Province should vote in numbers to overcome Southern Province.
“We shouldn’t relax that Edgar azawina (will win) since he is an Easterner but if we vote lazily, our friends in Southern Province will challenge us and we will be removed in power,” she said. “Let’s not vote lazily the way we did on Rupiah. We lost him because we are many but few voted and we lost him. Those eight bags of fertiliser we got under Rupiah disappeared because [Michael) Sata ate Cassava which doesn’t require fertiliser and you started calling us Paya Farmer and it’s now under President Edgar Lungu that agriculture has been revamped.”
Siliya observed that next year’s elections were not going to be easy one.
“These elections of next year are not an easy one. It’s war abale anga (my brothers and sisters)! It’s a war, we should make sure everyone registers as voters and vote on 12th August 2021 or else we will lose,” Siliya emphasised.
She expressed disappointment and worry that in 2016, in Sinda district, President Lungu got 7,000 votes while UPND’s Hakainde Hichilema got 5,000.
She said chances that others would vote for the opposition next year were high hence sensitisation needs to be taken seriously.
Siliya knelt down and begged for forgiveness for any wrong the government had committed.
She said the government knew that within five years, people have gone through many problems but she asked for a second chance for President Lungu to rule till 2026.
“Napapata (please), we go wrong, we in government, but forgive us please! Pray for us, we know we have gone through problems in these five years but let’s not lose this presidency because we still have a lot to do with it in our families, communities. We are not only happy for Edgar to be in State House but to work for us. If this presidency leaves, Eastern Province, nobody among us will be alive when it will be back here…Let’s not be lazy,” begged Siliya while on her knees.
She added that once PF is voted out, agriculture systems would not be revamped the way PF under President Lungu has done it.
“If Edgar Lungu loses next year, good agricultural system will collapse. So we have to put on much effort if Edgar is to win next year because we still have a lot to do,” Siliya said. “For now, we are not ready to hand over power to anyone unless in 2026 we are going to say ‘now namwe a Tonga mungatoleko ici cinthu but pakali pano usogoleri tikali nao nacocita (you Tongas can as well take over [the reigns] but for now we still have a lot to do with this leadership).”
She also took time to ask traditional leaders to pray for Bill 10 to succeed because it was where there were some laws that would benefit them since at the moment President Lungu had no law that supports him to render help to the traditional leaders and that what he does was out of his love for them.
“Pray for us to win Bill 10 on Thursday in Parliament. We know where we have stood and our friends in opposition they know where they have stood to reject it but all we require is for Bill 10 to pass,” Siliya said.
She claimed that a lot of chiefs including those in Southern Province were behind Bill 10.
Siliya, who is also Petauke Central PF member of parliament, advised traditional leaders to form cooperatives so that they benefit from the Farmer Input Support Programme.
Meanwhile, headman Kavinde Felix Banda, who spoke for other traditional leaders, bemoaned negligence from the government towards their general welfare such as being denied access to farming inputs, and social cash transfer.
“Hon Minister, we are going to war but with empty stomachs, can we win the battle? We ask you to be kind with us because the war we are going to isn’t an easy one yet we want to help the government. We are just village headmen by name but practically we are nothing” lamented Banda amid applause and whistling from fellow traditional leaders.