HAKAINDE Hichilema has wondered why there is so much fear among Zambians for regime change. The UPND leader says there is currently a proper monster in the presidency. Meanwhile, Hichilema believes that Zambians will be happier after the 2021genaral elections. Hichilema visited The Mast newspaper offices in Ibex Hill in Lusaka yesterday. He said Zambians should not create a monster in the presidency.

“What we see now in the presidency under PF is a proper monster. I’m talking of the presidency as an institution; the people around State House behave like they are not even civil servants! You see the presidential advisors at political rallies carrying guns and shooting!” Hichilema said.

“So, the presidency has been given this monster thing. You see them (presidential aides) on the platforms [but] they are not supposed to do that because the law says civil servants cannot be partisan.”

Hichilema said Zambia would be happier after the 2021 elections when they change government.

“ We want a regime change because this regime is damaging this country! But we’ll do it democratically. There is a connotation that regime change means you are a bad person, you want to remove people from office. Yes, we want to remove them from the corruption they are engaging in, we want to remove them from the ability to make decisions in the budget,” Hichilema noted.

“Yes, we want a regime change but democratically and legally. Don’t worry, there will be no illegal change; every change that will come is legal. If you change illegally, it doesn’t help even you who gets into office.”

The opposition leader added that the damage that had been done by the PF in the last seven years was “much worse than the combined leaderships of UNIP for 27 years and the MMD for 20 years.”

He explained that when citizens were preoccupied with issues of bread and butter, “sometimes they may relegate the importance of choosing quality leadership at the back of the queue.”

“That is disastrous! That is the disaster we see today. To us in the UPND, the most critical commodity in today’s Zambia that has caused these media issues, bad political environment, economic meltdown is the quality of leadership. The 17 million Zambians must have time to think about choosing leadership that will grow the economy…” Hichilema observed, adding that days were long gone when politics used to be regarded as a field for lesser people.

“This is the price we are paying! Politics should not be left to lesser people. Look at the corruption! We left politics to people who sought public office to enrich themselves instead of serving the people.”

Hichilema said a UPND government would advocate autonomy of the three arms of government.

“How do you feel about the judiciary today? You see the executive influence on the judiciary [but] we’ll not allow that. We want operational autonomy in the legislature. The executive has become a monster through the monster of the presidency,” he said.

“Look at the decisions they make on contracts! Sometimes big contracts are given without competitive tender. There is a big scam in the procurement of fuel and people in the presidency are getting bribes directly from fuel suppliers. That is the monster I’m talking about and that’s the monster now, through corruption, that is funding violence by paying thugs to maim people, as you saw in Sesheke.”

Hichilema said apart from effecting separation of powers among the three arms of government, UPND in power would ensure a true, free and self-regulating media.

He promised to create operations freedoms for oversight institutions such as the Anti-Corruption Commission, the Auditor General’s Office, Financial Intelligence Centre and ensuring their funding is directly released by Parliament and not Ministry of Finance.

On operational autonomy of oversight institutions, Hichilma said it cannot be the way “we heard from the PF where the president said you can’t investigate my minister without my authority”.

He said under his government investigative wings would not get permission from him to investigate even his closest relatives if they committed crime. He also said a UPND government would not allow anyone being arrested without a thorough investigation. Hichilema said it was illegal to keep people in detention for over 48 hours or several months without a charge. And Hichilema said those who get into government must never do the wrong things they saw when they were in opposition.

“When we form government, we start behaving as though we did not see these things to be wrong! That is our commitment to the people of Zambia. We do not want to have vindictiveness when our time to be in office comes, we do not want retribution. [But] we want to improve the political, the media space,” he said.

“Zambians should become more courageous because if we give up, we’ll be committing suicide.”

On political violence in the country, Hichilema indicated that “Mr Lungu can end violence tomorrow if he wants to.”

“But the reason he doesn’t end it is that he is a beneficiary. He uses it to steal elections; he uses it to beat even opponents within his party, those with different opinions. In the UPND, we’ll not tolerate violence against each,” Hichilema underscored.

“It (ending violence) doesn’t need meetings, it doesn’t need negotiations, it doesn’t need dialogue but there is no leadership in the PF and that’s why violence is there.”

On the victory of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) in the Roan parliamentary by-election last week, and how the opposition alliance intends to build on it going forward, Hichilema responded that “we consummated the alliance because we believe in what we are saying.”

“What you saw in Roan is not the beginning of the alliance; it is the fruit of the alliance. The alliance was brought first with the belief that we must re-unite the country, which has been divided by the PF. The PF has created acrimony….  Zambia is happier when it’s united than when it’s divided,” Hichilema explained.

“So, you’ll see more unity and where we falter citizens must say HH, Kambwili, Chipimo, Milupi, Siwale stay together. This unity is to benefit the people of Zambia. To put it in a nutshell, you’ll see more and better things going forward.”

Hichilema said when a decision was made to back the NDC in Roan, some UPND members opposed.

“I want to say to our members that by opposing such decision, you are undermining the people of Zambia,” said Hichilema.

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