President Edgar Lungu says Government will prioritize the growth of the tourism sector in its developmental programmes for Eastern Province.
President Lungu said this is because the province is endowed with natural resources that have a potential to boost economic growth of the province and the country.
He said this today when he graced this year’s Nc’wala traditional ceremony of the Ngoni speaking people of Eastern Province.
Mr Lungu urged indigenous people to invest in the sector and establish guest houses and lodges as they contribute to the country’s economic growth.
He however stressed the need to address poaching which has characterized a number of wildlife resorts saying it is depleting country’s wildlife.
He stressed the need to put up measures to control the scourge in order for the country to earn foreign exchange and subsequently reduce poverty.
President Lungu challenged traditional leaders and Zambians to consider investing in the tourism industry so as to become custodians of the natural resources.
Meanwhile President Lungu said Government recognizes the important role that traditional ceremonies play in uniting people regardless of tribe, religious or political differences.
He has described the Nc’wala traditional ceremony as a blessing as it unites people from different tribes and countries who share common interests.
Mr Lungu also called on traditional leaders to help address the segregation growing among tribes which he said can destroy the country if not addressed.
He observed that tribalism has continued in markets, hospitals and working places saying it has a potential to take the country backwards and compromise the democracy that the country has continued to enjoy since 1991.
The Head of State said he does not support tribalism saying it is for this reason that he formed an all-inclusive Government.
And President Lungu says Government will endeavour to improve the distribution of farming inputs and the marketing of maize in the 2015/16 farming and marketing seasons.
The head of state said he is aware of the challenges that farmers faced during the distribution of inputs under the Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP) in the last farming season.
He also disclosed that Government will set up milling plants in all provinces to help reduce the price of mealie meal which he said is high due to transportation expenses.
Mr Lungu further advised traditional to address issues of early marriages, Gender Based Violence (GBV) and excessive beer drinking among the youths.
President Lungu told the gathering that his government will implement all projects in the education sector in order to improve access to education.
He challenged traditional leaders to provide land as government remains committed to construct schools.
And Paramount Chief Mpezeni of the Ngoni people of Eastern Province who spoke through Senior Induna George Zulu expressed concern that some of the developmental programmes in the province stalled after the demise of President Michael Sata.
Paramount chief Mpezeni noted that contractors working on the Chipata/ Vubwi and Chaidza/ Chipata roads abandoned the projects after the death of the Head of State.
He also appealed to President Lungu to address challenges in the distribution of farming inputs to promote agriculture which he said is the driver of the economy in the province.
Paramount chief Mpezeni who also presented a shield and a spear to President Lungu and his Malawian counterparts said there is need to promote peace and unity.
He stated that the shield is a sign of courage that President Edgar Lungu exhibited as he faced a number of trials and tribulations while the spear represents peace and advised the Head of State to use it for peaceful purposes.
Meanwhile, Malawi President Peter Mutharika said the promotion of culture brings about social and economic development.
Professor Mutharika said through the Nc’wala ceremony Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique share cultural exchange on various common interests.
The Malawian President commended the Zambian Government for the role it is playing in supporting traditional ceremonies in the country saying Malawi will emulate the gesture.
And, Mozambican Tourism Minister Carvalho Muaria who represented President Felipe Nyuse stressed the need to develop systems that will nurture traditional practices to maintain cultural unity that exists among the three countries.
Mr Muaria said there is need to harness cultural activities that enhance unity and peace.
He stated that the celebration of the Nc’wala by Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique is a manifestation of the unity and culture that cuts across national boundaries.
Mr Muaria further said there is need to safeguard and maintain people’s wellbeing through the promotion of culture and traditional practices.