Friday, 11th September, 2020

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Friday, 11th September, 2020


The House met at 0900 hours


[MR SPEAKER in the Chair]












Mr Speaker: Hon. Members, I wish to inform the House that in response to the continued presence of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), I have authorised the Ministry of Health to conduct a mass screening exercise for all hon. Members of Parliament and staff. The exercise will be conducted here at Parliament Building. The Ministry of Health will facilitate the testing of samples and ensure that the results are released within forty-eight hours. The mass screening for COVID-19 aims at tracing those who may be positive so that they are isolated and a rapid finding, tracing and testing of close contact is conducted to interrupt the spread of the disease.


I, therefore, wish to encourage hon. Members and staff to take advantage of the COVID-19 screening exercise, which is scheduled to take place on Monday, 14th September, 2020, from 0800 hours to 1700 hours.


I thank you.






The Vice-President (Mrs Wina): Mr Speaker, I wish to inform the House that His Excellency the President of the Republic of Zambia, Mr Edgar Chagwa Lungu, will arrive at 1025 hours to address the House.


Thank you, Sir.


Business was suspended from 1005 hours until 1022 hours.


The President entered the Assembly Chamber escorted by Mr Speaker.


(Assembly resumed)


The Clerk read the Proclamation.





The President (Mr Edgar Chagwa Lungu): Mr Speaker, it gives me great honour to address Parliament and, indeed, the nation at large on this special occasion marking the start of the Fifth and final Session of the Twelfth National Assembly.


Mr Speaker, before I proceed, let me request the House to join me in observing a moment of silence in honour of the late freedom fighter and veteran politician, Hon. Alexander Grey Zulu, who answered the Lord’s call on Sunday, 16th August, 2020. Hon. Grey Zulu was an hon. Member of this august House from 1964 to 1991. During the moment of silence, let us also honour the late Hon. Mwenya Munkonge, Member of Parliament for Lukashya Constituency, and the late Hon. Rodgers Mwewa, Member of Parliament for Mwansabombwe Constituency, both of whom sadly passed on that dark Saturday, 18th July, 2020. We also would like to remember the late former Minister of Local Government, Hon. Andrew Mulenga, who passed away on 23rd July, 2020, and the late former Minister of Works and Supply, Hon. Ephraim Chibwe, who died on 27th August, 2020. Shall we be upstanding for a minute of silence, please.


Hon. Members of Parliament stood in silence for one minute.


The President: May their souls rest in eternal peace.


Mr Speaker, I wish to commend you and your two deputies for providing exemplary leadership during the last session. The House continued to function effectively in the midst of the challenges posed by the Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. This was not an easy feat. Further, let me commend you and your team for embracing Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in conducting the Business of the House during the last meeting of the Fourth Session.


I also wish to commend Her Honour, the first-ever female Vice-President of the Republic of Zambia and Leader of Government Business in the House, Mrs Inonge Mutukwa Wina, MP, for the able manner in which she facilitated the transaction of Government business.


Hon. Members: Hear, hear!


The President: From the time she assumed office in 2016, she has been a steady and dependable Leader of Government Business in the House. Let me also recognise the efforts of the Clerk of the National Assembly and her staff for the support rendered to the hon. Members of this House.


Mr Speaker, I urge the hon. Members of Parliament to continue conducting Business of the House in the ‘new normal’. This means, at all times, adhering to the public health guidelines to protect ourselves against COVID-19. As a Government, we were given the mandate to reduce poverty and create prosperity for our people. We have delivered on that mandate and continue to deliver. We have delivered on infrastructure. We have delivered on social protection. We have delivered in education and health, to mention but a few, and we will continue to deliver.


Mr Speaker, almost a year ago when I sat to address this august House, we were just approaching one of the harshest weather conditions of our times. I spoke with grave concern about the likely grim weather pattern. In particular, I spoke about the impending debilitating El Niño that would visit our region and cause wanton distress amongst our people as a result of climate change. Yes, it was in this House, on Friday, 13th September, 2019, when I spoke to the theme of my speech: “Accelerating Sustainable Development for a Better Zambia Amidst the Impact of Climate Change.” I said our country was facing a very serious problem. The problem we were facing was climate change and its El Niño effect and the impact on our population.


However, perhaps, when I spoke in this august House, the full consequence of climate change had not been felt. Alas, it took a few more months and, indeed, the full impact of drought, especially in the eastern, southern and western parts of our country, was felt. The rivers dried, the rain did not fall, and the crops wilted and dried. I remember looking at the dry waterways of the Luangwa River in the Eastern Province. I remember the waterless cliff at our mighty Victoria Falls. I remember witnessing the Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit (DMMU) distributing food to our people from Livingstone to Kazungula.


Mr Speaker, where we had water, we had too much of it. The floods of Lunga District in Luapula Province and Mambwe District in Eastern Province come to mind. I remember how the floods rendered our people destitute. I recall the effort of my Government to cushion the impact of climate change. In my speech to this august House, I spoke about the power deficit and the load shedding meant to conserve water at the power stations. I spoke about the impact of load shedding on our people, especially on small-scale businesses.


Mr Speaker, I asked this august House a rhetorical question, which was: “What does a resilient nation do in such a situation?” My answer to that question and I wish to quote, was as follows:


“It realigns itself to new ways of sustainability by understanding the changing environment, adapting methods of survival and putting in place action plans that make us overcome any challenges and forge ahead.”


Mr Speaker, I have spent most of the time preaching this message of endurance, innovation and entrepreneurship to our people.  I have visited farms that have adapted to the harsh realities of our times. I have also visited businesses that are coping with reality, and I have met people like that young man at the Chunga dumpsite, who together with other residents, mostly women, have formed co-operatives and are engaged in collecting waste for recycling. There is also one Chilekwa Mwamba, who is inspiring fellow young people, and adults for that matter, to form co-operatives, not just in agriculture, but also in many other sectors. These and many more people are showing me that it does not matter what you are, who you are or where you come from, with sheer determination and adaptation, you can survive the many storms.


Mr Speaker, but no one would have anticipated that four months later, after my speech, the world would be staring in the face of death. At the writing of this speech, officially 894,983 people around the world had succumbed to the COVID-19 pandemic, and there were 27,486,960 confirmed cases of this strange disease, COVID-19. In Zambia, 296 people had died, and 13,112 were confirmed cases. The good news is that over 90 per cent of the COVID-19 pandemic patients in Zambia have recovered.


Mr Speaker, the COVID-19 pandemic, has changed the world. Its impact on world economies and society, in general, is unprecedented. However, as horrifying as the COVID-19 pandemic has been, it has given us, as humanity, an opportunity to change the way we do things and do them better. The COVID-19 pandemic has opened our eyes to gaps and opportunities around us. The COVID-19 pandemic has taught us we can have virtual meetings and save money. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us how to work from our homes and achieve the same results. The COVID -19 pandemic has revealed to us that we can form co-operative shops and sell our local produce to ourselves without hindrance and disdain.


I, therefore, expect the Ministry of Local Government and Ministry of Commerce and Industry to embark on a transformational agenda that will see trading centres such as Soweto Market in Lusaka, Chisokone Market in Kitwe and others be the new chain stores with all the local produce such as kalembula, chibwabwa and kapenta, just to mention but a few.


Hon. Members: Hear, hear!


The President: Mr Speaker, my speech, therefore, will focus more on the situation we find ourselves in, and how, as a nation, together in unity, we can, and we must win the war. It does not matter who you are or where you come from. It does not matter whether you are a Christian, Moslem, Hindu or even a heathen. It does not matter whether you are Patriotic Front (PF), United Party for National Development (UPND), Forum for Democracy and Development (FDD), Movement for Multi-party Democracy (MMD), United National Independence Party (UNIP) or National Democratic Congress (NDC), to mention but a few of the political parties. Now is the time to hold our hands together and ride over the situation we find ourselves in as one people.


Hon. Members: Hear, hear!


The President: Mr Speaker, I will, therefore, use this occasion to outline the policy direction that my Government has taken, amidst these numerous socio-economic and environmental challenges, in steering this country to greater heights.


The Theme of the Address


Mr Speaker, during the past four years, the Government has been implementing a robust development agenda. In every development agenda, there are achievements and challenges. Earlier on, I mentioned these challenges that are as a result of climate change. However, we also have economic challenges such as falling commodity prices on the international market, and most recently, the disruption on lives and livelihoods caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.


Mr Speaker, despite the above challenges, I am encouraged that the Zambian people have been resilient. They wake up every morning and face each day with courage, dignity and purpose. They try as much as possible to provide for their families. They have not given up. I can only salute all Zambians for their resilience.


Hon. Members: Hear, hear!


The President: Mr Speaker, we, as a Government, will not let our people down. Let me reiterate this fact. We will not let our people down.


Hon. Members: Hear, hear!


The President: Mr Speaker, the theme for my address today, therefore, is: “Dedication, Resilience and Innovation: Pursuing Economic Recovery for the Zambia we want.”


Mr Speaker, pursuing economic recovery for the Zambia we want is the number one goal of my Government because so much depends on the economy. Our mindset should, therefore, be attuned to building a Zambia that is resilient to shocks, a Zambia that is open to new ideas and opportunities, a Zambia that is looking inwards for local solutions.


Mr Speaker, our country needs the dedication of all of us to overcome the setbacks we have encountered in the recent past; the dedication to hold on to hope and not give in to despair. We should not give up. As the late evangelist Billy Graham said:


“Our world today so desperately hungers for hope, yet uncounted people have almost given up. There is despair and hopelessness on every hand. Let us be faithful in proclaiming the hope that is in Jesus.”


Hon. Members: Hear, hear!


The President: Mr Speaker, as a people, we will not give up. We will remain dedicated to overcoming our current difficulties. We will keep the faith and believe in our future. Together, we can do it, and we will do it.


Hon. Members: Hear, hear!


The President: Mr Speaker, we need the dedication of all those in our healthcare facilities. We need the dedication of all our farmers, our factory and shop workers, those in construction, mining, finance and the larger service industry. We need the dedication of teachers to keep our schools running and safe, the dedication of our market stall owners as well as customers to keep our markets safe, clean and conducive for business. We all need to work hard to keep the wheels of our economy turning. Now is the time to give our very best for mother Zambia.


Hon. Members: Hear, hear!


The President: Mr Speaker, dedication alone may not be enough. We also need resilience. We need to build resilience in all our systems; resilience in all our businesses; resilience in all sectors of our economy and, indeed, the resilience of our people.


Mr Speaker, to be truly resilient, we need to invest in building capacities that will enable us to cope and recover quickly in the face of difficulties. It also means investing more in climate resilient infrastructure and promoting climate smart agriculture. We also have to strengthen the healthcare systems that will help us recover and cope when confronted with pandemics.


With regard to the economy, we have to do more in diversification, value addition, expanding our export base, and finding local business solutions. Let us act now and seize the opportunities available in various sectors of our economy.


Mr Speaker, all these efforts may not count in the absence of the resilience of our people. Our people and our businesses have shown tremendous resilience and capacity to remain steadfast and to bounce back from difficult situations. We have done it before, and we will certainly do it again.


Mr Speaker, to turn around our economy, we also need to be innovative. We must look beyond the traditional ways of doing things and embrace new ways of doing things and find new solutions to existing and emerging challenges. I am delighted that most sectors of the economy have responded positively to calls for innovations that are keeping the wheels of the economy running.


For example, the corporate world and financial institutions have introduced various online platforms amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. The education sector has also embraced innovative ways of reaching out to the learners when physical contact in classroom situations was not advisable. The same can be said of business regulators, pension houses and many Government services. This is the way to go under the ‘new normal’.


Our Macroeconomic Situation


Mr Speaker, during the period 2016 to 2019, our economy remained resilient, registering positive growth averaging 3.2 per cent. In 2020, however, the economic growth rate is projected to decline to negative 4.2 per cent. This is not unique to our country. The global economy is projected to grow at negative 4.9 per cent by the end of 2020, compared to the positive growth rate of 3.2 per cent registered in 2019. This is mainly attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has led to disruptions in the supply and value chains, fall in international commodity prices, reduced exports, low investments and liquidity constraints.


Mr Speaker, the impact of the slowdown in the global economy has been immense on our economy. The country is exporting less of both traditional and non-traditional commodities. This has led to reduced revenues for the Government and profits for businesses, as well as a reduction in investment and job creation.


Mr Speaker, to stimulate economic activities in the short-term, particularly for the private sector amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government has had to implement tax relief measures. These measures have been necessary to keep the private sector afloat and protect jobs. Due to the tax relief measures, domestic revenues in 2020 are now projected to decline by 17.8 per cent, significantly affecting programme implementation. In addition, expenditure for most programmes has been constrained to accommodate unforeseen health expenditures.


Sir, to further improve liquidity in the economy and mitigate the effects of COVID-19, the Government has introduced a K10 billion medium-term refinancing facility to support various players in the economy. The objective has been to strengthen financial sector resilience as well as promote private sector-led economic growth. Furthermore, the Government has issued the K8 billion COVID-19 bond as an economic stimulus package. To support the private sector and improve liquidity in the economy, the Government has continued to prioritise the dismantling of domestic arrears such as those owed to suppliers and pensioners.


Mr Speaker, despite the economic challenges that we are experiencing, a total of K1.9 billion has, so far, been released against the 2020 Budget of K2.1 billion. I want to assure you that my Government remains committed to dismantling all outstanding domestic arrears.


Mr Speaker, I wish to assure this august House that my Government remains resolute in implementing economic recovery programmes aimed at achieving a stable macroeconomic environment and favourable private sector investment.


Mr Speaker, the good news is that a rebound of our economy is projected in 2021, subject to the COVID-19 pandemic being contained.


Hon. Members: Hear, hear!


The President: The implementation of supportive policy measures will further stimulate the economy and put us on a solid path to recovery.


Mr Speaker, the hon. Minister of Finance will soon present to this august House the 2021 National Budget. The Budget will outline specific measures to foster economic recovery for the Zambia we want. Let me urge the hon. Members of this august house to interrogate, debate and ultimately support the 2021 National Budget.


Economic Diversification and Job Creation


Mr Speaker, my Government, has identified economic diversification and job creation as the key pillar to support Zambia’s development agenda. In this regard, a number of interventions have been implemented in the sectors identified as key drivers and enablers for economic diversification and job creation.


Mr Speaker, in 2016, I announced to this august House that the Government would prioritise investment in agriculture development for our economic diversification agenda. I am pleased to inform the House that the agriculture sector has performed well.


Hon. Members: Hear, hear!


The President: The production of major crops has been increasing over the years. For instance, maize production increased from 2.8 million metric tonnes in 2016 to 3.4 million metric tonnes in 2020.


Mr Speaker, since 2016, more of our farmers are increasingly taking up the growing of other cash crops such as sorghum, cassava, rice, groundnuts, tobacco, soya beans, mixed beans, Irish potatoes, paprika and cashew nuts. This is evidenced by the area brought under cultivation for these crops which increased from 1 million hectares in 2016 to more than 1.2 million hectares in 2019.


Mr Speaker, let me commend our farmers for diversifying from growing maize to other high- value crops. This has not only translated into improved national food security but also increased incomes for our farmers and other players in the agricultural value chains.


Mr Speaker, this success story would not have been possible had it not been for our hard-working farmers and a favourable policy environment. It is befitting, therefore, that we thank our farmers for a job well done. More importantly, we thank God the Almighty for his continued blessings upon this nation.


Hon. Members: Hear, hear!


The President: Mr Speaker, the country has continued to make significant progress in seed production for maize, soya beans, beans, groundnuts, cotton, rice, wheat and cashew nuts, among others. Seed production increased from 97,000 metric tonnes in 2016 to 129,000 metric tonnes in 2020. We have turned our fortunes around from being importers of maize seed to net exporters. During the period 2016 to 2019, the country exported 108,000 metric tonnes of maize seed to countries in the eastern and southern African regions.


Mr Speaker, over a period of four years, the country has produced forty-four seed varieties, giving our farmers options of seeds to use in different climatic and soil conditions. I, therefore, commend the seed industry in Zambia for responding positively to my Government’s agriculture sector policies and for being exemplary in achieving a self-sufficient and export-oriented agriculture sector.


Mr Speaker, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government will ensure that there is no disruption in agriculture production, national food security and food supply chains. The marketing of farmers’ produce will go on as usual. All agricultural inputs such as fertiliser, seed and agro-chemicals will reach our farmers before the onset of the rainy season, as demonstrated on Wednesday this week when I flagged off the 2020/2021 Input Distribution Exercise. The Government is also determined to see that the country’s national strategic food reserve is doubled from 500,000 metric tonnes to 1 million metric tonnes. With these measures in place, the country is certainly assured of being food secure.


Mr Speaker, the country recorded an increase in fish production from 115,000 metric tonnes in 2016 to 127,000 metric tonnes in 2019. The implementation of the Zambia Aquaculture Enterprise Development Project worth US$51 million is progressing well. This project is aimed at promoting fish production, processing and marketing.


Hon. Members: Hear, hear!


The President: The project is contributing to rural industrialisation, economic diversification and job creation in all the ten provinces of Zambia, as well as building necessary capacities in youths who want to venture into aquaculture as a business.


Mr Speaker, I am happy to inform this august House and the nation at large that 4,119 people out of a target of 12,000 have, so far, benefited from the project, out of which 1,783 are youths. A lot more opportunities, therefore, still exist in the aquaculture sub-sector.


Mr Speaker, the livestock sub-sector is important in pursuing economic diversification and job creation. The sub-sector has, however, been adversely affected by the disease burden as well as inadequate pasture and forage. We need to do more to help our farmers overcome these challenges. That is why the theme of my speech today beckons us to be innovative and resilient.


Sir, to grow the livestock sub-sector, the Government will pay particular attention to livestock research and development, provision of livestock services, improved animal husbandry, infrastructure development and assisting our farmers to access both capital and markets. More importantly, we will continue promoting private sector participation in this sub-sector.


Mr Speaker, with the interventions I have highlighted, I am confident that national food security will be guaranteed and the livelihood of our farmers, especially those in rural areas, will be improved.


Mr Speaker, the mining sector remains an important part of our economy. On average, the mining sector accounted for 14 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and 74.4 per cent of total export earnings during the period 2016 to 2019. During the same period, copper production averaged 805,000 metric tonnes. My Government will continue promoting diversification within the mining sector by exploiting other minerals in addition to copper.


Mr Speaker, nickel production also increased from 817 metric tonnes in 2019 to 3,394 metric tonnes over the same period in 2020. A significant increase of 77.6 per cent was also recorded in manganese production. It increased from 10,431 metric tonnes in 2019 to 18,530 metric tonnes in 2020. Other minerals such as gold, coal, cobalt and emerald, however, recorded reduced production during the same period. The contributing factors continued to be low ore grade, operational challenges and depleting ore reserves at old mines.


Mr Speaker, in my last address to this House in March 2020, I informed the nation that the Government had declared gold as a strategic mineral and established the Zambia Gold Company Limited to spearhead gold mining activities in the country. Notwithstanding the low levels of production, gold mining remains strategic to the economic diversification and job creation agenda.


Mr Speaker, I wish to report that the Zambia Gold Company Limited has since begun purchasing gold from artisanal and small-scale miners in Rufunsa, Vubwi, Mumbwa and Luano districts. The company also commenced gold mining operations in Kasenseli area in Mwinilunga District in June 2020.


Mr Speaker, gold mining, if well harnessed, will significantly improve the social and economic well-being of our people. I, therefore, encourage more of our people to engage in gold mining and production, as this is critical for wealth and job creation. I invite the youth to form co-operatives through which they will be empowered to participate in gold mining activities. So far, thirteen co-operatives in Rufunsa and Petauke districts have been created and supported to increase production.


As we look ahead, the Government will enhance the generation and provision of geological information. In addition, the Government will continue to do more to promote mineral exploration, production and value addition in the mining sector. We will also ensure that communities in mineral reserve areas benefit from these resources through organised mining and trade. We are determined to bring order to gold mining so that more dividends accrue to our people and the economy.


Hon. Members: Hear, hear!


The President: Mr Speaker, tourism remains one of the key sectors in our efforts to diversify the economy and create jobs for our people. During the period under review, the tourism sector contributed an average of 2.5 per cent to our GDP. The sector, however, has been the most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic due to its over-reliance on foreign tourists. In the first half of this year, the wildlife sub-sector alone lost an estimated US$90 million and 7,072 jobs. Current projections are that the sectors’ contribution to the GDP will be less than 1 per cent this year.


Mr Speaker, to reverse the negative trend, it is imperative that all the players in the tourism sector embrace innovation to sustain their businesses. Now is the time for the sector to seriously consider tapping into the potential of local tourism. In the ‘new normal’ and beyond, let us make it easy for our people, including public servants, to take holidays in our tourist locations.


Mr Speaker, the Government continues to recognise the importance of the energy sector in facilitating social and economic activities across different sectors. In 2016, we undertook to increase the country’s electricity generation capacity and access to electricity.


Mr Speaker, I am glad to report that the electricity generation capacity increased from 2,800 MW in 2016 to 3,000 MW in 2020. This was a result of an addition of 160 MW to the existing capacity from hydro, thermal and solar energy sources. These are the Ndola Energy Power Plant upgrade, the Musonda Falls Power Station upgrade and the Bangweulu, Ngonye and Copperbelt Energy Corporation (CEC) solar plants.


Mr Speaker, while the electricity generation capacity has increased, the actual electricity generation has been fluctuating due to drought that has affected most of the hydropower stations. This is happening at the time when the demand for electricity has been steadily increasing.


Mr Speaker, to address this rising demand, I am delighted to report that an additional 750 MW of electricity is expected to come on board by the end of this year after the completion of the Kafue Gorge Lower Power Station and the Chunga Solar Power Project in the Kafue National Park.


Hon. Members: Hear, hear!


The President: The coming on board of the Kafue Gorge Lower Power Station will mark a major milestone in electricity generation in our country since the construction of the Kariba and Kafue Gorge Power stations many years ago.


Mr Speaker, load shedding continues to haunt us and affect our livelihoods. I am happy to report that load shedding shall be a thing of the past once I commission the Kafue Gorge Lower Power Station, which will produce 750 MW.


Hon. Members: Hear, hear!


The President: Mr Speaker, our current electricity deficit is 810 MW. Therefore, the Kafue Gorge Lower Power Station and other hydropower stations that are coming into being, including solar power stations, will certainly wipe out this power deficit of 810 MW.


Hon. Members: Hear, hear!


The President: Mr Speaker, I wish to thank our people for the understanding and the resilience they have shown during this difficult period. I can assure the Zambian people that my Government has invested enough in electricity generation to turn the tide around.


Mr Speaker, increasing the country’s capacity to trade, particularly in exports of a wide variety of goods beyond our traditional products of copper and cobalt, has been an important goal of my Government.


Mr Speaker, my administration’s desires to pitch Zambia as a competitive country by increasing non-traditional exports to regional and international markets as well as improving domestic trade. It is for this reason that we have continued promoting exports and providing the necessary environment for export diversification.


Mr Speaker, a notable intervention is the launch of the Zambia Trade Information Portal that provides all the necessary trade information to facilitate traders’ compliance with our import, export and transit requirements.


Mr Speaker, while the average trade balance between 2016 and 2018 was negative, it should be noted that in 2019, the country registered a positive trade balance. This puts the country on the path of economic recovery. To continue on this path, we need to take advantage of the wider market in the region, such as the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and across the globe. We need to consolidate our position and participate in the African Continental Free Trade Area. We must also continuously innovate and improve the quality of our products to compete favourably.


Mr Speaker, the domestic market, also offers numerous opportunities for local products. To this effect, my Government is promoting local content across all manufacturing and trading activities. I, therefore, urge all citizens to continue buying and consuming locally produced goods.


Hon. Members: Hear, hear!


The President: This will create and retain jobs within our economy. When we strengthen our local manufacturing sector and encourage the buying of Zambian products, we save the much-needed foreign currency that is, otherwise, used to import foreign products.


Mr Speaker, ‘buying Zambian’ is another way of investing in our local industries as well as strengthening our currency. The more money we have, as a country, the more our people benefit through the jobs that are created and the public services we are able to provide. Notwithstanding the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on trade, we must be innovative under this situation. We must strengthen domestic value chains and, thereby increase trade of locally produced agricultural and non-agricultural goods.


Mr Speaker, in one of my addresses to the nation on the COVID-19 pandemic, I directed the hon. Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry to ensure chain stores bought local produce from our farmers rather than importing them. I will soon be visiting some of the chain stores to see whether my directive is being complied with.


Hon. Members: Hear, hear!


The President: Mr Speaker, to promote the manufacturing sector, the Government has been implementing programmes such as Multi-Facility Economic Zones (MFEZs) as well as domestic and foreign direct investment (FDI) promotion. The manufacturing sector consequently grew by an average of 3.2 per cent between 2016 and 2019, the main growth drivers being textiles, leather and non-metallic mineral products. Others included base metals, chemicals, rubber and plastic products as well as food, beverages and tobacco sub-sectors.


Sir, to further drive industrial growth, we have continued promoting value chains through the core venture investment model, where large investors are providing a ready market for small-scale farmers. A good example is the development of the cassava value chain, where over 6,000 small-scale farmers have been linked to large companies such as Zambian Breweries Plc.


Mr Speaker, in March this year, I ordered the closure of bars, taverns and night clubs, among other outlets to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. While other outlets have since reopened under public health guidelines, bars, taverns and nightclubs have not. This is because of the danger that the COVID-19 pandemic poses to these outlets.


I am cognizant of the suffering that owners of bars, taverns and nightclubs have experienced since the closure. I am aware of the consequential suffering of their employees and related businesses. The employers have struggled to pay salaries and to maintain them. The employees, on the other hand, have barely survived and many of them have become destitute. I know they have struggled to make ends meet, and their livelihoods are in disarray.


Mr Speaker, I, therefore, wish to announce the partial reopening of these outlets from Fridays to Sundays with immediate effect, but, of course, with serious caution that all public health guidelines are strictly adhered to.


Hon. Members: Hear, hear!


The President: These outlets shall operate from 1800 hours to 2300 hours. This is being done on a pilot basis. Should there be any flouting of the public health guidelines, I will be left with no option, but to close them again.  


It is important that patrons adhere to the public health guidelines such as masking, social distancing and sanitising to protect themselves, their neighbours and the public. I, therefore, direct the Ministry of Local Government, Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Health to ensure that bar, tavern and nightclub owners and patrons strictly observe the opening days and hours and the public health regulations guidelines and certifications.


Mr Speaker, industrial yards provide further opportunities for the country to pursue job creation, industrialisation and economic diversification. I am happy to report that substantial progress has been made on the development of industrial yards. The construction of these industrial yards has been completed in Kasama, Chipata and Mongu. The construction of industrial yards in Ndola, Solwezi and Kitwe is at 90 per cent and 60 per cent completion in Kafue District. Once operational, the industrial yards will host 300 Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) and create, at least, 4,000 jobs. The enterprises will be supported with equipment to engage in various manufacturing activities such as metal fabrication, carpentry, gemstone and agro-processing.


Mr Speaker, the face of this country has been transformed due to the ambitious transformation development agenda undertaken by the PF Government from 2011 to date. I know this sentence is not clear for some people. I am saying the face of this country has been transformed due to the ambitious transformation development agenda undertaken by the PF Government from 2011 to date.


Hon. Members: Hear, hear!


The President: The pristine road networks, state-of-the-art bridges, delightful hospitals, schools, colleges and universities have not only made life easy for our people, but they have also added beauty to our cities and towns.


Hon. Members: Hear, hear!


The President: Infrastructure development is a catalyst for economic growth and productivity. As such, we have constructed and rehabilitated roads, airports as well as water supply and sanitation infrastructure. We have also embarked on the robust construction of schools, colleges and universities. In the health sector, we have built specialised hospitals, clinics and health posts across the country. This is what my administration means by taking development to all parts of the country and closer to our people.  


Hon. Members: Hear, hear!


The President: Our road infrastructure is opening up the country by connecting the outlying areas, including key tourism attractions, in all the ten provinces. The infrastructure has also linked our country to all the neighbouring countries, resulting in easy accessibility and the creation of economic opportunities for our people, including jobs. Further, the road infrastructure is opening up our towns and cities and improving the flow of traffic. Nowadays, our people spend less time on the road. The people have more choices of routes to use and are spending less money on the maintenance of their vehicles and fuel. More importantly, they are able to attend to more productive ventures in a single day. Our farmers are now transporting their produce to markets easily, cheaply and quickly.


Mr Speaker, the upgrading of the Kenneth Kaunda International Airport (KKIA) into an ultra-modern facility now stands at 90 per cent completion compared to 84 per cent, which I reported to this House last year. Once completed, this airport will have the capacity to handle traffic of 6 million people per annum, up from 2 million people per annum, which is the current situation.


Hon. Members: Hear, hear!


The President: With regard to the Copperbelt International Airport, works are now at 76 per cent completion compared to the 43 per cent, which I reported to this House last year.


Mr Speaker, a resilient national road tolling programme has transformed Zambia into a beacon of learning within a short period, drawing attention from the region and beyond, as road funds look for sustainable solutions to road financing. The Government has, so far, rolled out the tolling programme across the country with thirty-four tolling points consisting of twenty-one toll stations, three weighbridges and ten ports of entry. We have been visited by almost all countries in the region to learn how Zambia is doing it.


Mr Speaker, since its inception, a total of K4.8 billion has been collected in toll revenue. However, owing to COVID-19, which has seen a reduction in traffic volumes, the Government projects an end year collection underperformance.


Mr Speaker, the Government has put in place measures to improve the collection performance, which measures are expected to result in overall toll revenue collection of K1.4 billion against a budgeted collection of K1.6 billion.

Poverty and Vulnerability Reduction


Mr Speaker, as a pro-poor Government, we have continued to fight poverty and vulnerability among our people. In our bid to reduce poverty and vulnerability, the focus has been on enhancing the welfare and livelihoods of the poor and vulnerable. We are also focusing on building resilience to climate change and disaster risks as well as reducing vulnerability associated with the human immuno-deficiency virus/acquired immuno-deficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS) prevalence. We have continued to do so with dedication and determination.


Sir, I am happy to inform the House that the multidimensional poverty headcount in the country has reduced from 50 per cent in 2014 to 44 per cent in 2018. During this same period, poverty in rural Zambia declined from 69 per cent to 59 per cent, while in urban areas it declined from 25 per cent to 18 per cent. These positive statistics have been recorded on account of interventions being implemented by my Government across the country.


Mr Speaker, these interventions include the Social Cash Transfer Scheme, Food Security Pack Programme, the Emergency Cash Transfer Scheme and the Supporting Women Livelihoods Programme. Currently, approximately 4.2 million people across the country are benefiting from these social protection programmes.


Hon. Government Members: Hear, hear!


The President: Mr Speaker, we are also making steady progress in broadening social security coverage for our people in both the formal and informal economy. The cumulative number of workers registered with social security schemes since 2017 is about 1.5 million. I encourage more of our people to take up social security cover to secure their future after retirement. My Government will continue implementing social protection programmes to contribute to the well-being of all Zambians without leaving anyone behind.


Sir, my Government is cognisant of the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the labour market. I, therefore, urge the leaders and captains of industry to devise strategies and innovations that will keep businesses running. They should do all they can to cushion their workers against job losses. The pandemic should not be used as an excuse to retrench workers indiscriminately. The Government stands ready to work with the private sector to secure the future of the Zambian industry and workers under the ‘new normal’.


Reducing Developmental Inequalities


Mr Speaker, we are firmly determined to take development closer to all our people regardless of their geographical location. My Government has, therefore, continued working towards reducing developmental inequalities, with a special focus on addressing the rural-urban divide as well as income and gender inequalities.


Sir, we are making steady progress in ensuring that all our people have access to electricity, water and sanitation. Rural households with access to electricity have increased from 4.4 per cent in 2015 to 8.1 per cent in 2019.


As a result of these achievements, our people are now enjoying the benefits of having electricity. After years of darkness, residents of Dundumwezi, Chibwika in Mwinilunga, Mungwi, Mpanta in Samfya, Ukwimi in Petauke, Sandwe, Luembe, Ntambu in Mwinilunga, Dimbwe in Kalomo, and many other rural areas across Zambia are now enjoying electricity. We expect to do more in the future. This is what my Government means when it says that it will develop Zambia without leaving anyone behind.


Hon. Government Members: Hear, hear!


The President: Mr Speaker, the percentage of rural households with access to safe and clean drinking water improved from 47 per cent in 2014 to 58 per cent in 2018. Access to improved sanitation facilities increased from 19 per cent in 2014 to 37 per cent in 2018.


Sir, the infrastructure development undertaken by the Government in the ICT sector is bearing fruit. My Government has continued constructing and upgrading communication towers across the country. A total of 774 towers have been constructed compared to 667 last year. In addition, 720 communication towers have been upgraded since 2018. This represents a network coverage of 91 per cent compared to 83 per cent in 2018. The digital divide between the urban and rural population has significantly reduced. Mobile subscription increased from 11.6 million to 15.8 million in 2018, while internet subscription increased from 5.2 million in 2016 to 9.9 million in 2018. In addition, there has been increased access to ancillary services, through electronic platforms, by our people. This has contributed to improved financial inclusion.


Mr Speaker, mobile money services are creating jobs for many of our people, especially the youth. The volumes and values of mobile money transactions have tremendously increased from 103 million transactions valued at K2.8 billion in 2016 to K552 million transactions valued at K49.3 billion in 2019.


Mr Speaker, the youth contribute positively to the country’s socio-economic development. To this effect, the Government will continue to create opportunities for its youth using a multi-sectoral approach. I, therefore, applaud all financial institutions that have joined the Government in helping our youth live productive lives. As I speak, we have many examples of youth distinguishing themselves as leaders, be it in mining, aquaculture, banking, politics, Civil Service, academia, media as well as transportation to mention, but a few. Others are leading the way in honey processing, timber processing and ICT.


Sir, the Government has continued to empower women to participate in agriculture actively. To this end, agricultural equipment such as tractors, solar egg incubators, solar drip irrigation sets, honey pressing machines and beehives have been distributed to women-led co-operatives in 121 chiefdoms. In addition, the Government has been providing the training and securing of land for women-led co-operatives. So far, 1,943.4 hectares have been secured and given to the co-operatives in Eastern Province, Northern Province and Muchinga Province. We plan to have 28,800 hectares countrywide under mechanised agriculture to reduce the burden of farm work. Mechanisation will also assist in increasing agricultural production and, indeed, facilitate value addition to agricultural produce.


Enhancing Human Development


Mr Speaker, my Government is committed to improving the well-being of its citizens as well as providing them with opportunities to thrive and reach their full potential. It is for this reason that we have continued to implement interventions aimed at enhancing access to education and skills development, health, clean and safe drinking water as well as adequate sanitation.


Sir, the education sector has seriously been affected and impacted negatively by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, before I comment on this challenge, let me state that the Government has made many gains in the sector since 2016.


Mr Speaker, my Government, prioritises universal access to quality education as a catalyst to holistic human development. As a Government, we pride ourselves in the reduced teacher-to-pupil ratios. Previously, one teacher was teaching seventy-six pupils per class at primary school level and sixty-eight pupils at the secondary level. However, by 2019, one teacher was handling a class of forty-five pupils at primary and thirty-five at the secondary level. This means that our teachers are now able to pay more attention to the learning needs of each pupil.


Sir, with this positive development, the country has further recorded an increase in literacy rates from 67.5 per cent in 2014 to 80 per cent in 2019. Female literacy rates increased from 68 per cent in 2014 to 79 per cent in 2019. Further, there was progress in school attendance at the early childhood education level. The attendance rate increased from 24 per cent in 2016 to 29.4 per cent in 2019. This shows that our people are beginning to embrace the importance of early childhood education and its role in promoting cognitive development from an early age.


Mr Speaker, the Government is committed to laying a solid foundation for innovation that will drive the development of this country. In this regard, special attention has been given to increasing the number of learners in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. To ensure consistency in the building of skills and shaping of competencies in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, the Government has operationalised fifty-two schools specialised in the teaching of these subjects across the country.


Mr Speaker, I am glad to report that the proportion of learners in universities graduating in science, technology, engineering and mathematics increased from 23 per cent in 2016 to 30 per cent in 2019. The country stands to benefit from this intervention. We will have more doctors, more engineers, and more digital whiz kids. We are creating the much-needed critical mass of scientists in research and innovation. This is what the country needs.


Sir, my Government recognises the role of the private sector and faith-based organisations in the provision of education. To this effect, fifty-five private higher education institutions have been registered and accredited. This is the fruit of the vision of the PF party to increase access to tertiary education through the liberalisation of the provision of higher education in the country.


Mr Speaker, as much as we welcome the increasing number of universities in our country, we must not lose sight of the quality and relevance of the education being offered.


Sir, following the enactment of the Higher Education Loans and Scholarships Act No. 31 of 2016, the Government commenced the recovery of money loaned out to students who were on Government bursary. For the first time in the history of our country, the Government has been able to recover these monies as a way of boosting capacity to provide additional loans to deserving students. As at July 2020, a total of 72.1 million kwacha was paid back since the exercise began in 2016. I think this is the way to go.


Hon. Government Members: Hear, hear!


The President: I urge those beneficiaries in gainful employment, but still hesitating to pay back the loans to see the wisdom in paying. These student loans also benefit persons with disabilities and those living with albinism. It is for this reason that the Government has secured special quotas for their enrolment in all the seven public universities. It is, therefore, an honourable act to make sure that these too benefit from student loans.


Mr Speaker, despite the gains earlier mentioned, I would be remiss if I did not add that I am greatly concerned that most pupils and students have almost lost a full academic year after schools, colleges and universities were closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Like I stated earlier, this is a situation no government could have avoided.


Mr Speaker, I am fully aware of the negative impact the closure of educational institutions has had on pupils, students, teachers, lecturers, parents, school owners and the general public. Through interactions, observations, and reports, I am disturbed by the vices that are happening at community and household levels. These include, but not limited to the following: teenage pregnancies, child marriages, rape, defilement, alcohol abuse, incest, and other delinquencies. These vices may not only lead to these young people dropping out of school but may also expose them to the human immunodeficiency virus infection and acquired immune deficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS) and other sexually transmitted diseases.


Mr Speaker, while we have encouraged pupils and students to use virtual platforms during this challenging period, we should not forget that many of these young people come from poor families that cannot even afford to access these digital platforms, including buying internet bundles for learning.


Mr Speaker, since the reopening of examination classes, I have observed and confirmed that there has been an insignificant number of pupils and students who have contracted COVID-19. I have also heard the cries of pupils, students, teachers and lecturers, parents, and owners of schools, including the Ministry of General Education and the Ministry of Higher Education, concerning the reopening of learning institutions. I am aware that the non-reopening of schools has led to the loss of gains made by learners, and more importantly, all non-examination classes may be at the same level next year. The current examination classes would have no space to progress next year and hence may also lose a year.


Mr Speaker, in this regard, I, therefore, wish to announce the reopening of all schools, colleges, and universities, of course, again, with caution. This will have to be done between 14th September, 2020 and 28th September, 2020, subject to adherence to public health certification, guidelines, regulations, and also to allow for satisfactory, and adequate preparedness by all relevant authorities, including parents and guardians.


Hon. Government Members: Hear, hear!


The President: The Ministry of General Education and the Ministry of Higher Education must come up with modalities that will ensure all pupils and students catch up after losing six months of the academic calendar, which may include revising the curricula. I also urge the two ministries to ensure strict compliance with the COVID-19 measures. I am encouraged to reopen the schools in the context of the ‘new normal’, as espoused by the World Health Organisation (WHO).


Sir, a strong and effective healthcare system will continue to be a priority for the Government. The aspiration of the Government is to achieve universal health coverage. In this regard, we are strengthening our healthcare system using the primary healthcare approach.


Mr Speaker, my Government is working hard to reduce the high rates of maternal and child mortality. In my last address, I reported that we had reduced the overall maternal mortality ratio from 398 in 2014 to 278 in 2018 for every 100,000 live births. The House may wish to know that these figures are reviewed every five years. In addition, the number of institutional maternal deaths reduced to 138 deaths from 149 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2016. This is indicative of the reduction in the overall maternal mortality ratio.


Sir, child mortality is still a major concern. The country is losing close to forty-two babies in their first month of life for every 1,000 live births. The Government will, therefore, continue strengthening the provision of paediatric health services with a particular focus on neonatal health.


Mr Speaker, malaria remains a major public health concern in Zambia. The Government has, over the years, reported a steady decline in malaria cases and deaths. We will, therefore, continue to heighten and enhance the delivery of malaria interventions on a large-scale. We will pay particular attention to vector control, case management, community engagement and surveillance.


Mr Speaker, the HIV prevalence rate among women and men aged fifteen to forty-nine years has decreased since 2014 from 13.3 per cent to 11.1 per cent in 2018. In addition, 93 per cent of people living with HIV were on anti-retroviral therapy (ART) by 2019. Further, 96 per cent of the children who tested HIV positive were on ART. With regard to the incidence of tuberculosis, the country recorded a reduction from 376 per 100,000 people in 2016 to 346 per 100,000 people by the end of 2018. The Government will continue to invest in the prevention and treatment of HIV and tuberculosis with a view to controlling the diseases.


Sir, the increasing incidence of non-communicable diseases continues to be a source of concern to the Government. Currently, these diseases account for 27 per cent of all deaths compared to the 23 per cent, which I reported last year. In this regard, the Government remains committed to strengthening interventions for the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases in the country. I, for one, have tried to lead the way in mitigating incidences of communicable diseases by exercising regularly. I encourage all of you and every citizen to adopt this way of life to avoid non-communicable illnesses and live a healthy life.


Mr Speaker, Zambia, like all other countries, has not been spared from the COVID-19 pandemic, as I keep saying. Cases have been on the rise from the time we recorded the first two cases in March this year. Unfortunately, many lives have been lost due to this pandemic.


My Government has responded with a robust multi-sectoral response. This has included heightened surveillance at the community level, in health facilities, at ports of entry, and in sentinel sites to rapidly detect and isolate cases. The Government has also set up a dedicated screening, diagnostic and treatment centres for people who have tested positive for COVID-19. I cannot overemphasise the importance for all citizens to strictly adhere to the public health guidelines in the fight against the pandemic. Let us wear our face masks continually when in public places, observe social distancing and minimise movements away from home.


Mr Speaker, I must state that recoveries of COVID-19 patients have been downplayed, including testimonies from people who have recovered, about the great case management by our health workers and the general ambience of treatment centres. The health workers have done this at great risk and sacrifice. They truly deserve commendation.


Hon. Government Members: Hear, hear!


The President: Mr Speaker, to improve access to quality health services, the Government has continued to construct and equip health facilities across the country. I am happy to report that a total of 439 health posts and twenty-four mini hospitals as well as Chinsali and Kalindawalo General hospitals have been completed and are now operational.


Hon. Government Members: Hear, hear!


The President: The Levy Mwanawasa Hospital has been upgraded from 120 to 850-bed capacity. We have also created an isolation facility for COVID-19 patients at the Levy Mwanawasa Hospital. The construction of the Lusaka Specialised Hospital is at 95 per cent completion while the Bangweulu General Hospital in Lupososhi District of Northern Province is at 30 per cent. Further, works have started at the King Salman Bin Abdulaziz Women and Children’s Specialised Hospital in Lusaka.


Mr Speaker, in 2019, the Government operationalised the National Health Insurance Scheme for the attainment of universal health coverage. So far, 540,000 employees have been registered on the scheme and more than 126 healthcare facilities have been accredited to the scheme. It is expected that 800,000 employees will be registered by the end of this year.


Mr Speaker, human resource for health remains a critical component in the provision of quality health services to our people. As part of the emergency response to the COVID-19 pandemic, 2,232 health workers were recruited and deployed. Since 2017, Government has recruited over 23,000 health workers. The recruitment of these health workers is part of my Government’s agenda to create jobs and reduce unemployment, especially among the youth.


Sir, the provision of water supply and sanitation services to our people, also remains high on our development agenda. We have continued with the construction and rehabilitation of water supply and sanitation infrastructure countrywide. The construction of the Kafue Bulk Water Project that commenced in 2016 is now at 98.3 per cent completion. Once completed, Lusaka will get an additional 50 million litres of water per day.


Hon. Government Members: Hear, hear!


The President:  The Lusaka Sanitation Programme, which commenced in 2015, is expected to be completed in 2021. It involves the construction, rehabilitation and expansion of sanitation infrastructure in selected parts of the capital city. Once completed, the programme will improve the provision of sanitation services to a number of public institutions as well as 12,000 households in Lusaka.


Sir, the Kafubu Sustainable Water and Sanitation Improvement Project is at 96 per cent completion. This project is aimed at rehabilitating water supply and sewerage treatment facilities in Ndola, Luanshya and Masaiti districts. Once completed, the project will ensure the sustainable supply of clean and safe water and the provision of sanitation services to our people in the three districts.


In addition, the Government has completed the Chongwe Water Supply Project that will supply the town with 345 thousand litres per day and benefit 2,500 households in the district. This project will ameliorate the water supply problem that our people in Chongwe have been facing since Independence.


Hon. Government Members: Hear, hear!


The President: Further, the Government is implementing the Kaputa Water Supply and Sanitation Project, which is at 77 per cent completion. This will result in more than 3,000 people having access to clean and safe water as well as adequate sanitation. This project is expected to be completed in December this year.


Mr Speaker, the completion rate for the Kafulafuta Water Supply Dam is at 82 per cent completion from 60 per cent in December 2019. I have since directed the hon. Minister of Water Development, Sanitation and Environmental Protection to ensure that this project is completed urgently. I will be visiting this project on Thursday next week.


Hon. Government Members: Hear, hear!


The President: Sir, the storage capacity for the dam will be 139 million cubic metres, supplying up to 300,000 cubic metres of water per day. This is enough water to supply an estimated one million people in the four districts of Ndola, Luanshya, Masaiti and Mpongwe.


Hon. Government Members: Hear, hear!


The President: Mr Speaker, to ensure sustainable management of water resources in the country, my Government continued to implement Statutory Instrument, 2018 on groundwater resources management. In 2019, 2,821 boreholes were registered and included in the national database bringing the total number of boreholes registered to 34,821. In addition, 105 drillers were registered in 2019, bringing the total number of registered drillers to 278. This measure has now contributed to curbing the unregulated drilling of boreholes and thus promoting sustainable practices that prevent the degradation of groundwater resources.


Mr Speaker, in addition to the water supply and sanitation projects, the Government has been undertaking the construction of boreholes in different parts of the country. In 2019, a total of 4,151 boreholes were constructed and equipped with hand pumps. This resulted in one million people in rural areas having access to clean and safe water. In contrast, 1,168 boreholes were constructed in 2018, benefiting 292,000 people. Further, 146 exploratory boreholes were drilled, providing clean and safe water to 36,500 people.


Sir, to ensure universal access to water and sanitation by 2030, in 2019, my Government also rehabilitated 392 boreholes, resulting in 98,000 people benefiting from improved access to clean and safe water as compared to 2018 when 100 boreholes were rehabilitated to benefit only 27,500 people.


Mr Speaker, under the African Development Bank (AfDB) supported project in the Western Province, 195 sanitation facilities involving ventilated improved pit latrines (VIPS) have been constructed in public places such as markets, schools and health centres, resulting in 122,000 people accessing improved sanitation facilities in sixteen districts of the Western Province.


Mr Speaker, my Government, working with various partners, is also undertaking the construction of solar-powered water schemes across the country. This has resulted in thirty-one schemes being constructed in 2019, and as a consequence, an additional 148,000 people now have improved access to water and sanitation. This is a marked improvement from 35,000 beneficiaries in 2018.


Creating a Conducive Governance Environment for a Diversified and Inclusive Economy


Mr Speaker, between 2016 and 2020, the Government formulated a number of policies and enacted legislation to improve the policy and legal environment. Notable among these are the National Employment and Labour Market Policy, the National Legal Aid Policy and the National Trade Policy. Further, legislation enacted included the Local Government Act, 2019, the Public Finance Management Act, 2018 and the Employment Code Act, 2019.


Mr Speaker, to cushion the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the operations of the industry under the ‘new normal’, the Government issued Statutory Instrument No. 48 of 2020. The statutory instrument is aimed at ensuring that the employment and labour market remains resilient and businesses retain viability during these turbulent times.


Sir, the Government has made progress in implementing legal and regulatory reforms to facilitate the smooth implementation of decentralisation reforms. The enactment of the Local Government Act, 2019 gives effect to the decentralisation of functions, responsibilities and services at all levels of local government. It also guarantees the democratic participation of our people in decision-making at the local level, through the creation of ward development committees.


Mr Speaker, so far, 1,326 ward development committees have been formed across the country out of the targeted 1,624. The enactment of the Planning and Budgeting Bill, 2019 will further empower our people to participate in the local development process.


Sir, to further bring public services closer to the people, the Government has created new districts. I am happy to inform this august House that the construction of infrastructure in these new districts is progressing well. So far, fourteen district administration blocks, twelve post offices, fifteen police stations, and 510 housing units are at 80 per cent completion while thirteen civic centres and associated infrastructure have reached 95 per cent completion.


Mr Speaker, my Government acknowledges that fighting corruption in all its forms is key to promoting good governance and achieving sustainable socio-economic development. This Government will not tolerate corruption.


Hon. Government Members: Hear, hear!


The President: Any individual found wanting by the courts of law will not enjoy any protection from this Government. It does not matter which political party you belong to or who you are in society. The law will be applied equally to all those found wanting, and they will be dealt with. Therefore, my Government has continued to strengthen and roll out the integrity committee initiative which is aimed at ensuring the prevention of corruption in both public and private institutions. There are currently ninety-four integrity committees compared to forty-eight in 2016. Most of these are in public institutions. I am glad that they are working very well.


Mr Speaker, to enhance transparency and accountability, I direct all controlling officers in Government ministries, provinces and spending agencies to ensure that the integrity committees in their institutions are operational, supported and effective. It is for this reason that integrity committees have been included as a principal feature in the performance contracts of permanent secretaries. I also urge private institutions to embrace the good practice of establishing integrity committees and ensuring that they prevent corruption before it occurs. It is also important to ensure that procurement practices are above board to avoid overpricing and other procurement malpractices.


Mr Speaker, we have implemented the Smart Zambia Transformation Agenda to modernise the delivery of public services through digital technology. We have transformed the way we operate in Government, the way we share information and the way we engage with our citizens. This has been demonstrated, of late, by the Government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.


Mr Speaker, the Government and several private institutions are conducting business electronically. Some of our institutions are encouraging their members of staff to work remotely from home, but without affecting the quality of their service delivery. This is in line with the Smart Zambia Transformation Agenda, which was the thrust of my 2015 Address to this august House.


Sir, the deployment of electronic services through the Government service bus and payment gateway is promoting access to services by our people from any location and at any time of the day. So far, forty-four services are available to the public on the Government service bus. An additional 100 services, including those relating to land, mining, tolling and tourism, are expected to be provided online by December 2021.


Mr Speaker, my Government has continued to score successes in ensuring a well-informed citizenry, which is a fundamental pre-requisite for deepening our governance and development. We now boast of an ever-expanding media environment. Currently, the number of radio stations in operation countrywide has increased from eighty-eight in 2016 to 126 this year.


Similarly, the country has seen a steady progression in the number of television stations established and operational countrywide. We now have thirty-nine television stations compared to only nineteen in 2016. I note with pride that Zambia is among the first countries in Africa to fully and successfully migrate to digital television broadcasting services from the analogue terrestrial television broadcasting platform. Last year, the Government commissioned the remaining eight digital transmitters, and now all the seventy-three digital transmission sites for television broadcasting across the country are fully operational. This means that all parts of our country are now able to access the television signal. Zambia’s migration from analogue to digital terrestrial television transmission has been a worthwhile venture, as it has opened up the broadcasting industry. Our people can now own television stations, thereby creating jobs and wealth.


Sir, furthermore, the six new provincial television studios in Eastern Province, Western Province, Luapula Province, Muchinga Province, Central Province and Northern Province have been completed and are due to be handed over to the Government once the equipment is installed. It is my Government’s resolve that all the ten provinces have provincial television studios to take information closer to the people.


Hon. Government Members: Hear, hear!


The President: Mr Speaker, these are commendable strides by any stretch of the imagination. The challenge is now up to our people, especially the youth, to create content that is relevant to the needs of our country and to ensure that our television programmes are of high quality. Quality programmes will give us a greater footprint on the global stage. We want our country to create better-paying jobs in this industry. While I am delighted that the film industry is now booming in our country with most of the films even on international channels, I hope more young people will enter this career once our studios countrywide are operational.


Mr Speaker, it is my Government’s resolve that the media should operate independently. To this end, I am proud that the media in this country is plural, free and diverse. There is no question about it.


Hon. Government Members: Hear, hear!


The President: Sir, I cannot go without saying something about the 2021 General Elections.


Mr Speaker, in furtherance of the will of the people and in line with the Constitution of Zambia, the country will hold general elections next year on Thursday, 12th August, 2021.


Sir, to adequately prepare for the forthcoming general elections, the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) will undertake a voter registration exercise this year. This will include mobile as well as online voter pre-registration. I urge all eligible voters to be patriotic and exercise their civic duty to vote by participating in the upcoming voter registration exercise. We will all be called upon to either register or verify our details under the new register. This is the only way to exercise our right to vote and be able to choose the leaders of our country.


Mr Speaker, the ECZ will prepare a new register for the 2021 General Elections. This measure will, among other benefits, eliminate possible duplicate records.


Mr Speaker, to ensure as many eligible voters as possible exercise their right to vote in the 2021 General Elections, the Government has embarked on the mobile issuance of National Registration Cards (NRCs). This exercise is intended to increase coverage and reach out to our citizens who live in far-flung areas across the country. I, therefore, call upon all stakeholders, including hon. Members of this august House, traditional and religious leaders, civic leaders, civil society organisations and all patriotic Zambians to ensure that all eligible citizens acquire or replace their NRCs.


Mr Speaker, it is my expectation that the campaigns for the 2021 General Elections will be issue-based and peaceful. There should be no room for violent campaigns. Elections come and go. If you lose this one, try the next one.


Hon. Government Members: Hear, hear!


The President: As citizens, therefore, we have a duty to come together and forge ahead with the development of our country after the elections. Elections should not divide us. We are one people and one nation. Let us remain one people before, during and after elections. The same should apply to the forth-coming by-elections in Mwansabombwe and Lukashya constituencies set for 17th September, this year. We all desire and deserve peace and unity. This is what we should all strive to achieve. This is what will consolidate Zambia’s position as a beacon of peace.


Sir, I, therefore, call upon all political leaders, their members and ordinary citizens to preach peace and love during campaigns as well as refrain from utterances and actions that may incite violence before, during and after the general elections. We should, at all times, inculcate the value of peace and love among our members.


Mr Speaker, among our cherished national values, is patriotism and national unity.


Sir, in conclusion, we are determined to turn the economy around.


Hon. Government Members: Hear, hear!


The President: We will do so by the dedication, resilience and innovation of this Government together with our people. We will build our economy by hard work and prudent use of our resources. All of us must put our shoulders to the wheel.


Mr Speaker, we must get up each day to do something productive for a better tomorrow, something to improve ourselves, our families and our communities. Let us spend our time productively rather than wasting precious time spewing out vitriol on social media.


Sir, let me thank our people for the continued faith and belief in my administration.


Hon. Government Members: Hear, hear!


The President: The people’s continued support is what has given us the impetus to soldier on. Despite the many challenges we have faced, let us continue to put our country first in all we do. There is only one Zambia, the Zambia that belongs to all of us, the Zambia we should be proud of and the Zambia we want.


Mr Speaker, let me also thank our co-operating partners who have continued to believe in us and our development agenda. On behalf of the nation, I want to assure our co-operating partners that we are full of gratitude for their co-operation and support.


Sir, there is every hope for the future. As it is written in the Bible book of Romans Chapter 15, Verse 13:


“May the God of hope fill you with joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”


Mr Speaker, we are more than ready to forge ahead and meet our challenges head-on. We promised the Zambian people a better Zambia and, today, Zambia is better than we found it. We will continue to change the face of our country. We will continue to deliver on our promises for a better Zambia. With dedication and hard work, we will get there. With God on our side, all things are possible.


Hon. Government Members: Hear, hear!


The President: Mr Speaker, dedication, resilience and innovation must be our developmental agenda while pursuing economic recovery for the Zambia we want against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic while continuing to live in the ‘new normal’.


Mr Speaker, I now declare the Fifth Session of the Twelfth National Assembly officially opened.


God bless you all, God bless our great nation, Zambia.


I thank you.


Hon. Government Members: Hear, hear!


The President left the Assembly Chamber.


Mr Speaker took the Chair.







The Vice-President: Mr Speaker, I beg to move that at its rising today, the House do adjourn until Tuesday, 15th September, 2020.


Sir, may I begin by expressing, on behalf of the House and, indeed, on my behalf, my sincere thanks to His Excellency the President of the Republic of Zambia, Mr Edgar Chagwa Lungu, for the stimulating and insightful speech.


Mr Speaker, the President, has raised a number of important issues which need careful analysis by all of us. The President’s message is not only stimulating but also thought-provoking. The issues raised set the tone for economic development, which the country will pursue in 2021. These issues deserve serious introspection and analysis by the House.


Sir, consequently, I am of the view that the House should rise now so that hon. Members are allowed ample time to read, digest and analyse the speech and reflect on the important issues that His Excellency the President has raised. This will enable hon. Members to come back to the House well informed and, therefore, make meaningful contributions during the debate on the Motion of Thanks starting on Tuesday, 15th September, 2020.


Mr Speaker, this is a straightforward Motion, and I request all hon. Members of this august House to support it.


Sir, I beg to move.


Ms Mwape (Mkushi North): Mr Speaker, allow me to put on record my sincere gratitude for the rare opportunity accorded to me to speak on this important Motion moved by Her Honour the Vice-President on the occasion of the Official Opening of the Fifth Session of the Twelfth National Assembly.


Sir, I am in agreement with Her Honour the Vice-President that hon. Members need time to read, digest and carefully analyse the speech which has been delivered by His Excellency the President of this great Republic, Mr Edgar Chagwa Lungu.


Hon. Government Members: Hear, hear!


Ms Mwape: The adjournment is, indeed, necessary because His Excellency the President has raised a number of thought-provoking issues which require hon. Members to critically analyse before debating the speech. It is imperative that the House adjourns now in order to give hon. Members ample time to digest the speech so that when we return next week, we will be fully prepared to debate meaningfully on the various issues that have been raised.


Mr Speaker, I fully support the Motion and urge all my colleagues to do the same.


I thank you, Sir.


Hon. Government Members: Hear, hear!


The Vice-President: Mr Speaker, I am very grateful to the House for its unanimous support of this Motion.


I thank you, Sir.


Question put and agreed to.




The Vice President: Mr Speaker, I beg to move that the House do now adjourn.


Question Put and agreed to.




The House adjourned at 1224 hours until 1430 hours on Tuesday 15th September, 2020.