PRESIDENT Edgar Lungu has directed newly appointed Defence minister Richwell Siamunene to ignore baseless criticism and concentrate on transforming the operations of the defence forces.
President Lungu said this yesterday when he swore in Mr Siamunene and Transport, Works, Supply and Communications deputy minister James Kapyanga as State House in Lusaka.
Mr Siamunene is opposition United Party for National Development (UPND) Sinazongwe Member of Parliament (MP).
Mr Lungu said Mr Siamunene should ignore those that were criticising him over his appointment and work on transforming the defence forces.
He said the new minister was joining the Ministry of Defence at a critical time when the ministry was transforming its operations to suit the needs of the country even in the times of peace.
“Lucky for you, you are taking over from me and below you, you have competent staff that will help you in your work. Ensure that you transform the defence forces,” President Lungu said.
He said the Zambia National Service (ZNS) has already started transforming by providing services in road rehabilitation.
ZNS was working with the Rural Roads Unit to rehabilitate roads in rural areas.
President Lungu said leadership was lonely especially that most people spoke negatively about leaders.
“Especially for you, Mr Siamunene, many people want to be where you are. They are not saying nice things about your appointment because they are just full of envy,” he said.
Mr Lungu said Mr Siamunene should take heart because some people spoke negatively about him (President Lungu) as well but he responded by working hard.
He said the best way to shame critics was by working hard.
On Mr Kapyanga, President Lungu said the deputy minister was a good example of what could be achieved by working hard silently.
Mr Lungu said Mr Kapyanga was a hard worker and a veteran in labour matters, politics, governance issues and party matters.
“You are a good example of how one can move from the back bench, not by talking too much but by working hard,” he said.
The President said Mr Kapyanga should explain and defend Government’s position in Parliament well.
Meanwhile, Mr Siamunene said he was grateful to President Lungu for appointing him as Defence minister because he was a youth who had been given a huge responsibility.
He said his appointment was proof that Zambia was a united nation.
Mr Siamunene said he was not going to pay the detractors any attention but instead pledged his loyalty to President Lungu.
He said Mr Lungu had shown a lot of trust for youths which should encourage them to work for the country and not for other reasons.
He said he was still an MP even though the UPND president Hakainde Hichilema was reported to have said that his appointment wrong because he was an expelled member of the party.
Mr Kapyanga said he would work to encourage commitment from civil servants in his ministry because commitment and unity was key.
The swearing-in ceremony was attended by Chief Sinazongwe, ministers, permanent secretaries and family members.
Chief Sinazongwe said later that the chiefs in Southern Province had mandated their chairperson to engage President Lungu over their demand for an apology from PF Secretary General Davies Chama on some remarks he allegedly made against people of Southern Province.