By Sara Imutowana Yeta II
When Anderson Kambela Mazoka died, I was devastated for two reasons.
First, for losing a man with great leadership qualities.
Mazoka had indeed some big leadership shoes. This made him achieve a lot, mainly in terms of name, fame and political career.
Second, I had not seen in my mind’s eye a leader who would fill Mazoka’s big shoes.
As the party’s presidential candidate for the 2001 general elections, Mazoka finished second with 27% of the vote, less than 2% behind the winner Levy Mwanawasa.
In the National Assembly elections UPND won 49 seats, becoming the second largest party after the party in power.
I had written UPND off after Mazoka’s passing.
But wait a minute! I was dead wrong because Hichilema has been more than equal to the task by demonstrating excellent qualities of leadership making UPND grow in numbers and from strength to strength.
As the party’s candidate for the 2015 presidential by-election, Hichilema received 47% of the vote and Lungu was elected with 48%.
In the 2016 elections marred with widespread, systematic and grave irregularities, Lungu was elected with 50.4 while Hichilema sat at 47.6.
Under Hichilema’s leadership UPND has 58 members of parliament and has seeped in regions that were previously strongholds of the party in power.
Hichilema has filled Mazoka’s shoes for a number of reasons.
He is courageous that he took risk to serve UPND from extinction and he has been risking his life to grow UPND to lead government.
In the pursuit of development for all people, he has been arrested several times on fraudulently concocted charges and he is falsely blamed for anything wrong in the country.
However, hatred against him has not fazed away his disposition to lead the non-violent political and economic liberation movement.
World over, it is difficult to run a successful opposition political party but Hichilema has done so with distinction.
Political parties come and go because they lack resources, are not trusted and seen as viable alternatives to the party in power but Hichilema has made UPND grow into a tower of power.
The fact that there is no certainty in politics, every commitment Hichilema makes and every action he has taken entails a risk of some kind.
Therefore, there is no doubt that courage is among the leadership qualities most identifiable in Hichilema’s conduct.
This is exactly a type of a leader UPND needed after Mazoka.
A leader who would make people look back to the passing of Mazoka and vehemently agree that Mazoka “yali inshimbi” replaced by another “inshimbi” not only an asset to UPND but to the whole nation.
As president of UPND, he has demonstrated to the nation that he is a leader with an inspiring socio-economic vision for the country.
He has helped the disconsolate masses to see how they can contribute to the national vision. This has allowed people to believe that it is possible to move together as a nation towards a shared view of the bright future.
He has filled Mazoka’s shoes by exhibiting the virtue of integrity.
His integrity makes him to have nothing to fear in pursuing political and economic liberation for all people, since he has nothing to hide.
They have tried to falsely accuse him of selling mines, tribalism, gassing, and so on, but nothing sticks because of his mark of integrity.
With integrity, he continues to stand for truth, not only for UPND but for all people, in every situation.
This is one of the values Hichilema brought to UPND and national politics.
He is one of the truthful politicians ever graced the political terrain.
His trait of truthfulness has worked as the foundation quality of the trust necessary for the success of UPND, and made him find admiration among level-headed citizens.
When we thought Mozoka’s departure was a final nail in the coffin for UPND’s existence because a rich and pompous man has taken over from Mazoka, as we were made to believe by the media, Hichilema has demonstrated to the people that humility is his indelible brand.
As Bossidy once said that humility gets results, Hichilema has been an effective leader to UPND and to the opposition in carrying out the opposition’s primary role of monitoring and criticising the government in order to hold it accountable.
How a rich man is able to contain his ego is what has baffled many people and has made them to finally see Hichilema for who he is, a down-to-earth leader.
He has not allowed his riches to get in the way of his leadership style but has made him to recognise the value of both the poor and rich around him.
It is this rarer attribute of good leadership that requires containment of one’s ego that makes Hichilema a presidential firm favourite in the 2021 elections.
Hichilema has proved that not all was lost at Mazoka’s sad fall because he is a strategic leader able to make UPND spread its political wings across the nation.
This is what has made UPND the leading opposition party able to win a free and fair election any day and anytime.
He has filled Mazoka’s big shoes because he is visionary; able to look ahead, to anticipate with accuracy where UPND, the economy and the country are going to the amazement of his competitors.
Indeed, this is the type of leadership UPND needed after Mazoka.
He has been good at focusing on strengths, in himself and others explaining why UPND has stood the test of political heat and cold.
His ability to call the shots and ensure that everyone in the party is focused and concentrated on the most valuable use of their time made it essential to the expansion of UPND’s political base and excellent performance in elections.
From the time he became UPND president, Hichilema has demonstrated the ability to get everyone on board regardless of tribe or region or gender to work and pull together, essential to UPND’s remarkable success.