I DECLARE a hunger disaster and President Edgar Lungu should follow my lead, says UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema.
Hichilema has vowed to continue with distribution of relief mealie-meal to the people and says no one should stop him.
Addressing the media at the UPND secretariat yesterday, Hichilema said the PF government was using hunger as a weapon against Zambians.
“Hunger is everywhere, I was in Chibombo, Rufunsa, and Bauleni yesterday (Sunday) not far from State House, people are hungry everywhere. Either they are hungry because there is no food or when the food is available, it is too expensive. The PF are saying there is no hunger, where is the grey matter? If the food is in the shops and the price is too high that is hunger,” he said.
“They are using hunger as a weapon against our people. They want our people to suffer more. He [President Lungu] thinks that if people suffer more, they will vote for them. That is wrong. Secondly, they are afraid that when the hunger situation is declared, aid will come and they will have no opportunity to manipulate the citizens. If they love the citizens, the debate whether people are hungry or not is over. People are hungry, allow humanitarian aid to come in. The PF don’t love the people of Zambia, they don’t care. That is the most important reason.”
Hichilema said he had made a decision to keep distributing relief food despite the government’s refusal.
“I have taken a decision that I will be in the communities, whether Lungu likes it or not. I will be in the communities, I will be there in Chongwe, in Chama. I am a citizen of this country, the law grants me freedom of movement. I’m talking about the Bill of Rights. He [President Lungu] is moving, his people are moving, lavishing on huge salaries, today they are afraid of going where I’m going because if they went where I go, where people are eating wild fruits, they would be lynched,” he said.
“When the PF refused to officially accept my donation of mealie-meal at that point I did not wait, I made a decision to start distributing in certain ways. What you saw in Bauleni was just one of the ways. We are doing it already. The PF are celebrating that this district commissioner has donated some mealie-meal, they don’t know that indirectly it is me who has donated.”
He called upon citizens to help alleviate the hunger situation.
“I’m appealing to all citizens, if you have a bit of money, a business or a job and you have family members in the hunger-stricken areas, please donate even one bag of mealie-meal so that it is not HH alone because HH alone from his resources cannot manage. HH is just a citizen, he cannot feed all the people. It is the duty of the government,” Hichilema said.
He challenged the UPND members to go on the ground and aid those affected by hunger.
“I encourage all of you to move also, NMC (National Management Committee) members, leave this secretariat. I was in Bauleni yesterday, the way the old women are suffering, the disabled and the widows, you can cry if you are a real Zambian, unless you are not and you are not human,” Hichilema said.
“I am going into Chawama to give people who are hungry mealie-meal. He [President Lungu] says I cannot go to Chawama because it is his, where did he get it from? He also moved into Chawama from wherever he came from. People who live there, we want to save their lives using our little resources. He is sitting on government money. If he does not want me to donate, I am instructing you Mr Lungu to install gensets in all hospitals.”
He promised to end hunger once voted into power.
“That is why we want a declaration. Let us save our people. This hunger has even made people realise that we are one people because njala inyokola [hunger afflicts] everyone. Let us work as one. Let us unite our country. We don’t want hunger to afflict our people the way it is today. Under the UPND, you can count on us,” he said.
“Let me use this opportunity; today I declare an emergency and a disaster to hunger in this country. I declare, I will not wait for Lungu or PF, we will do what we can, we have been doing in different ways. I have started myself, I want Lungu to follow my lead and declare hunger as a disaster so that humanitarian aid from the whole globe can come because my little help is too little, it’s not enough. So taxpayers money can be used to save lives of people who are dying of hunger. I declare and I want Lungu to follow my instruction.”
Hichilema said advising the PF on a number of issues had failed and the only way out was voting them out of office.
“We have given them advice on maize exports, today the price of mealie-meal is high. We have given them advice on debt, if they followed our advice, we wouldn’t be in a mess in which we are,” he said.
“But if they don’t take advice to help the people of Zambia, we have to remove PF and replace it with UPND. There is nothing else because we have rendered advice but nothing so the next opportunity we have to remove PF from office through the ballot box, it will start with you. We will remove an incompetent leadership like you saw on Friday, that is incompetence of the highest order, that is mediocrity, lowering the standards of delivery in our country, making children think the presidency is worth that much, the presidency is worth a lot.”
And Hichilema said importing electricity was a retrogressive way of resolving the power deficiency in the country.
“Electricity is another disaster. They [government] enjoy importing electricity because there is corruption in it. They would rather import at a high cost than generate through solar. They are ready to import power instead of generating it here. As we speak, they are proposing to increase the electricity tariffs despite the load-shedding. They want you to suffer more and tomorrow they will come and say to you ‘ati pabwato’. They think you are robots. Zambian people are clever and I have trust in them,” he said.
“It is actually annoying that we can have a bunch of liars occupying public office and every month they are being paid by the citizens who are deprived of an education. Citizens, you are paying liars, you are paying incompetent, greedy people, then an election comes they come and say ‘pabwato’ to you? That is madness. Their lies have made them mad.”
Hichilema asked people to exert their anger at the authorities for denying them his donations.
“For me to be in Bauleni, we had to do a decoy. If they knew I was going to be in Bauleni, they would have come to disturb me. I’m declaring hunger as a disaster, I am also declaring that do not restrict our movements, the Church movements, the NGO’s movement, people who can help, let us not be disturbed because the Constitution allows us to move freely. Any day you see HH stopped either in Chawama to donate a genset or mealie-meal, the Zambians who are starving must blame the PF,” he said.
“I did not come into politics to take, to earn, I came into politics to give, to serve the people of Zambia. That is what leadership is. I’m not thinking what the PF are thinking. I am thinking of finding the solutions to the problems the people are going through. Under PF there is no vision, there is no leadership.”
Hichilema said the UPND was yet to take over government.
“If you want to grow the economy, you must change the government. Mumayopa [you fear] regime change, why muyopa regime change? UPND was made to take over government through…. We are taking over government. We want to take over the country. When we win the election, we don’t want anyone to steal our vote. Let us unite like we did in 1991,” said Hichilema.
On Sunday afternoon, Hichilema visited Bauleni where he donated mealie-meal to the aged, widows and the physically challenged.
His initial donation of 25 bags quickly ran out and
he had to bring in more bags which he distributed.