UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema has made a clarion call on Zambians to unite and redeem themselves following the PF vote on Wednesday to increase taxes on petroleum products and automobiles. Hichilema ha said not one would be spared by the PF increased taxes. Commenting on the passing of a bill to increase various taxes such as fuel, motor vehicles, among others by Parliament on Wednesday, Hichilema urged Zambians to take responsibility and be part of the change to save the country from total destruction.
Following the vote in Parliament, UPND Chief Whip Dr Situmbeko Musokotwane said while UPND members of parliament voted against the bill, the ruling PF carried the day because it enjoyed a parliamentary majority. Dr Musokotwane said the opposition opposed the taxes because Zambians were already overtaxed.
And Hichilema believes Zambians know what needs to be done to stop the PF from abusing its numbers in Parliament to “inflict pain to the people.”
“We, in UPND, knew from the beginning and said that PF had no vision and capacity to run this country for the good of the people. They went into public office not to give but to take from the people, not to serve but to steal from the people through corruption,” Hichilema charged.
“We, as a people, should unite as we have done before to vote out this uncaring and corrupt regime. We should all take responsibility and be part of this change to save our families and country from total destruction.”
Hichilema explained that the current exhausting taxation in the country would bring more suffering on the already distressed Zambians.
He said that families would have to endure more long days and nights without sufficient food as the cost of the same would be beyond reach.
“No new jobs and more job losses (retrenchments) as the cost of doing business increases to levels unaffordable to continue with operations, fuel costs will continue to increase and many motorists will not manage to keep their vehicles on the road,” Hichilema said.
“Many more of our poorer citizens will have to walk to clinics and hospitals to visit sick relatives as taxi and minibus fares will continue to be unaffordable, more children will be out of school/college/university occasioning untold damage to their future.”
Hichilema regretted that while ordinary Zambians, the owners of the resources continued to suffer, the corrupt few in the PF regime continue living lavish lives.
Hichilema applauded UPND members of parliament who, on Wednesday, voted against the bill [pushed] “by the uncaring PF regime” to increase various taxes like fuel, motor vehicles among others.
“As UPND and other progressive members of parliament and citizens at large, we opposed these taxes because Zambians are already overtaxed,” he said.
“From an economic point of view, tax increments such as that on fuel will increase cost of transport for passengers, merchandise and services leading to a continued rise in the cost of living. In addition, these taxes do not stimulate economic growth and job creation as the cost of doing business for many citizens and businesses is stifled.”
Hichilema said mining companies and other industries were already reducing their workforce due to the high cost of doing business in the country.
“This means there will be increases in lots of taxes in this  year’s budget because of the PF that voted in support of these taxes,” he said.
“Citizens are well aware that the PF won the 2011 elections and have continued cheating them on the same promise of ‘lower taxes and increase money in people’s pockets as a pro-poor party, yet they are doing the opposite. Their actions speak louder than their words.”
Hichilema added that it was unfortunate that the bill to increase taxes went through in Parliament with the PF members of parliament, using the arrogance of numbers, massively voting in favour of it.
“It now remains to the rest of the wider population, who we believe are the real masters, to use the people power and prevail. Hence our continued call to the rest of our citizens to once again unite and redeem ourselves as no one will be spared from these PF increase on taxes,” said Hichilema.
“The most outrageous thing is that the resources raised from these PF increases in taxes just go into the pockets of the few corrupt politicians in the PF regime where it helps to finance their luxurious lifestyles such as procuring customised private jets and other aeroplanes at the expense of the suffering masses.”
Meanwhile, has called for unity of purpose among Zambians to liberate themselves from challenges they are facing currently.
The opposition UPND leader said Zambians had passed through various historical phases and have achieved great things through unity of purpose.
“Even biblically, the children of Israel were able to conquer the mighty armies that threatened their existence all because of unity of purpose,” Hichilema said.
“Our country’s liberation struggle icons were able to achieve independence through unity of purpose, despite the court systems, the powerful armies, the police, and all other institutions that belonged to the oppressors.”
Hichilema said even under the one party state when all State institutions belonged to the one party regime, the people power prevailed in unity.
He said Zambians resolved to do away with the small clique that threatened the existence of the majority of population.
“And history is abound with many such examples when the people power prevailed over the mighty armies, court institutions, and other elements that threatened the existence of the majority of the population,” he said.
“Even within the region, the apartheid South African regime perhaps controlled a much stronger army than the entire SADC region, but brave men and women of all ages prevailed over the mighty armies and institutions and liberated themselves from the oppressive regime.”
Hichilema noted that in every struggle to liberate the majority of a wider population, there would be elements that may be enjoying from the oppressive regimes.
“There were a few citizens that were used and benefited from the oppressive colonial regimes in Africa and in Zambia in particular,” Hichilema said.
“There were equally a few that were used and benefited from the one party regime, and indeed at every turn of events, there will always be such people. And typically, all the elements who remain and keep benefiting from oppressive regimes have one language, which is that of wanting to continue dividing the already oppressed people. The same trend is happening even in our current scenario in Zambia where all manner of statements, tactics, mob psychology are being used with the hope of keeping benefiting out of some perceived divided country.”
Hichilema said even the most ruthless dictators and regimes in history had some followers who were benefiting from them.
“We believe it is again that time we must reject any attempts to continue dividing our citizens with the hope of keeping benefiting from the troubles they are going through,” Hichilema said.
“Yes, we may hold different opinions on a few things, which is allowed in a democracy, but the small differences we hold must no override our overall objectives and aspirations of a better life for all in unity, basic human rights and freedoms which we cherish the most. In short, there is more that bind us together than the little imaginary differences we may hold against each other.”
Hichilema said the challenges of Zambians in Shangombo were the same as those of Chama residents, Gwembe, and Chiengi, among other areas.
He advised Zambians not to be cheated into believing that they were divided.
“The fact is we are the same people facing similar difficulties in our homes. The time is now to liberate ourselves against any mighty institutions that threaten our existence and we have the collective power to do what is right for us as individuals and the rest of the country,” said Hichilema.
“Staying away, especially for our youths and women, is not a solution, we must all confront the situation we are faced with.”