WE are ready to govern, says UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema. And Hichilema says Zambia, undoubtedly, is going down. The UPND leader told The Mast yesterday that his party had over the years matured with deep knowledge of the challenges people were facing.
“UPND, its members, leaders, sympathisers (real and perceived) have over the years suffered state sponsored hate, negative discrimination of all sorts (in the job market, contracts, businesses), premature retirements in national interest, verbal and physical brutal attacks, arrests, detentions, torture, extrajudicial killings, etc,” Hichilema said. “Despite all this, the party has not only survived but grown substantially across the country to become a truly national party, a Zambian people’s party. UPND has proved to be resilient, focused with a clear vision of a better Zambia for all our citizens. The party’s policies are consistently appropriate to meet our long established vision. UPND has over the years matured, with deep knowledge of the challenges facing our people and what needs to be done to reunite our people, reconstruct our country’s broken economy and social fabric. Our party, the Zambian people’s party, is ready to govern for the benefit of all Zambians.”
But Hichilema told his supporters and other Zambians that the UPND was not seeking to form government and perpetuate the depraved trend of “tulyemo naifwe.”
He recalled that there was a time when citizens argued about the prospects of the PF government bettering their lives. Hichilema said since there was now massive unemployment around the country and maddening taxation, there was consensus about the incapacity of the PF government.
“This country, undoubtedly, is going down! We argued amongst ourselves as citizens that PF will do well. [But] some of us said there is no vision and capacity to create something. We said there will be no jobs and there are no jobs today, we said that the tax burden will improve and today Zambians are taxed in every corner,” he said.
“We also said at the rate our colleagues are borrowing, we will be back into a debt burden and we are back into that. Poverty cannot be talked about now because you can see it, you can touch it every single day. This is what as a nation we must accept and not continue arguing – country is being run down. If we don’t have consensus, we will not walk together but we need to walk together.”
Hichilema indicated that he had never seen the current level of greed by people occupying public office.
“This level of greed is unprecedented!” Hichilema said.
“The level of debt that we have acquired is driven by greed through corruption. Is it correct to spend US$68 million to buy a jet to be utilised by no more than 20 people? You can use that money to send 30,000 children to college, university from first year to graduation.”
He stressed that Zambians should be in agreement that the country was going down and that there ought to be unity to redeem it. And Hichilema said the UPND meant no harm to anyone.
“We mean no harm to anyone; we mean no injury to anyone. What we mean is to manage our resource endowment in a manner that will benefit that orphan, in a manner that will equitably benefit every citizen of this country,” Hichilema explained.
“That’s what the UPND stands for and 20 years down the road, we have retained that vision which was coined, orchestrated that time. The first priority of the UPND, as it was in 1998 (at the party’s formation), is to drive economic development for social good. We as the UPND in government will never spend $68 million on a Gulf Stream jet!”
He told UPND officials not to “cheat themselves” that they could singlehandedly steer economic prosperity for Zambia.
“Even if you can do it alone [politically now], that’s only one stage – the next stage is to deliver for the people. At that stage, we need diversity of skills,” Hichilema said.
Hichilema further highlighted the inescapable need to tackle the issue of kickbacks for officials, once the UPND was in government.
“We, in the UPND, cannot aspire to take [over] government and continue with tulyemo naifwe (let’s have kickbacks). There is nothing like ukulyamo (kickbacks). It’s unacceptable and indecent to aspire for public office so that you can replace those who are eating and you can eat. That is not where we are going,” he said.
“[But] we are going to a place where we can look after every penny that this country has and actually create more pennies so that we can have a lot more to share. We cannot share poverty! First, you have to produce and then you can redistribute and that’s what the UPND wants to do in government.”
Meanwhile, Hichilema reiterated the need to re-unite Zambia before implementing economic development.
“This country is too divided today. It is embarrassing to look at the negative talk that goes on social media and being generated by lack of leadership. Let’s fix this together,” said Hichilema.