THERE is complete social upheaval on the Copperbelt being caused by the absence of leadership from Patriotic Front, Hakainde Hichilema has said. Hichilema, the United Party for National Development president, lamented that there was disenchantment and dissatisfaction in the country. Hichilema told the South African Broadcasting Corporation that he did not understand the police action both at Church in Ndola and at the Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe International Airport where he was harassed.
“I have no idea why they wanted to arrest me and intension of harassing me, I don’t understand but the fact of the matter is that the police tried to remove me from a Church service last Sunday in Ndola, a Catholic Church service, and said that I needed a permit to go to church, which is illegal. There is nowhere in our laws where somebody needs to have a permit to attend a church service,” Hichilema said.
He further said he considered what transpired in Ndola typical oppressive maneuvers by dictators. Hichilema added that he was not a crook and that his life as a businessman and in community service was exemplary. He added that there was no active politician in Zambia who has done more community service and more work than himself.
“After all, we are Christian country and what they are trying to do is a contradictory of the laws of our country. With regard to the Airport incident yesterday (Monday), I can only deduce that for some reason they wanted to deny me the right to use the Airport…the Airport is a public installation, it’s a State, people’s installation and there is no law again that restricts me or anyone from using the airport to board an Aircraft. Again I consider that an oppressive maneuver by the PF. As usual, that’s what dictators do when they are in their last days of government. We have seen this before across Africa so I am not surprised but its unnecessary,” Hichilema said.
“Well, the Zambians and the world knows that HH is not a crook, I have never crooked anybody in my life. I have been an upright individual in our family life and its there for everyone to see. In our business life, it’s there for anyone to see. In our community support programmes, it’s there for everybody to see. There is no active politician in Zambia who has done more community service, more work than Hakainde Hichilema. So what [PF media director Sunday] Chanda is saying is basically in his head, it’s the pigmentation of his mind and I don’t even have time to respond to mischievous people like him.”
Hichilema further said there was nothing wrong with him meeting miners who were on the verge of losing jobs. He said it was in fact the PF who were misbehaving by contravening the constitution by restricting him from enjoying his fundamental human rights.
“So the issue is that if I am meeting my party members, it’s my right. Equally if I am meeting miners, it’s my right too because under the constitution, I like many other citizens of Zambia, we enjoy freedom of association, freedom of movement, freedom of conscience. In fact, it’s the PF who are misbehaving by contravening the constitution because every time I travel, they try to restrict me from enjoying my rights, my fundamental human right, freedoms and liberties. So it’s them who are acting against the provisions of the constitution and if there is anybody who needs to be indicted, it’s them, it’s not HH. I am acting in accordance with the law. It’s my right, whether I meet miners of not, it’s neither here nor there as there is no law that restricts me from meeting miners, it’s my right as I want to hear the problems the miners are facing,” he said.
“The miners are losing jobs, it’s my interest, in the interest of the community on the Copperbelt that someone can speak for them and that’s why I am speaking for them.”
Hichilema said he held a press briefing where he said things that were affecting the mines. He said the contractors were not being paid and their businesses were shutting down.
“…and miners are being shed out of employment and there a complete social upheaval on the Copperbelt and that is being called by the absence of leadership from Chanda’s party, Patriotic Front. The Patriotic Front is not restricted to his own party, it’s basically spread across the country, there is disenchantment, there is dissatisfaction in the country and Chanda cannot stop that and neither can [President Edgar] Lungu stop that. The train is on the move, PF has failed and the alternative is the UPND and that’s what we are doing, we have to provide them with hope, a clear, distinct and progressive visionary alternative of the UPND,” Hichilema said.
He lamented that there was instability everywhere in the country owing to the evident leadership failure by PF. He further said PF and President Lungu’s lavish life, where he bought a Presidential Jet amid suffering among people was shocking.
“The people of Zambia must understand that and we all agree that PF has failed us, they have lost us jobs against their promise of more jobs, People have no money in their homes, the price of food is expensive and the price of mealie-meal has more than quadrupled since PF took over government. They found mealie-meal at K30 but it’s now selling for more than K120. Students have been thrown out of schools because they can’t afford school loans,” Hichilema said.
“Lecturers are not being paid in colleges, there is instability everywhere. Leadership failure is evident in PF and at the same time they are lavishing themselves. Mr Lungu bought himself a presidential jet worth millions of dollars yet he is not paying retirees…that’s what he should be doing instead of misusing money to pay for a presidential jet which he must be embarrassed to ride in that jet when his own civil servants’ salaries are delayed, when most quasi-government institutions have not been paid for about six months, he must be embarrassed.”
Hichilema urged Zambians to join hands in ejecting the PF government who he called failures in all aspects of governance.
“Really, this is what Chanda must be talking about. People must remove fear in their body material, we must gather courage, and we have done it before and delivered independence. We must work together and say PF has failed and the alternative is the UPND government. It’s clear and straight. The Kwacha has collapsed, Lungu, when Mwanawasa was running this government, the exchange rate was K4 to a dollar now it’s above K13 to a dollar, what more message of failure does Chanda and the PF want us to talk about? Look at the debt mountain! We warned them about these things but they didn’t listen, now Zambia is back on the debt mountain yet we had achieved a debt position of just about $7 million after debt HIPC and citizens paid a lot to achieve that HIPC completion point. But now we have been taken back to a huge debt mountain. The country sits around $18 billion of debt in an economy, which is about $25 billion so we are technically bankrupt, driven by the PF poor leadership,” said Hichilema.
“We are here to restore normalcy, return the rule of law and return the country to restoration of our liberties and freedoms and above all reconstruct the economy.”