UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema says his party brings to the table quality leadership, the missing link to connect the wealth of Zambia and citizens.
He was speaking at his residence in New Kasama in Lusaka yesterday.
Hichilema is displeased that a mineral-rich Zambia has majority citizens who are manifestly poor.
The opposition leader lamented that the PF government had mismanaged the country’s gold resource.
Over the past few weeks, the issue relating to the exploitation of one of Zambia’s valuable resource, gold, has been a subject of discussion in the mainstream and on social media.
Hichilema said such discussions are apt.
“This country has seen situations where our resources are exploited not to the benefit of citizens of Zambia but to foreigners, invariably at the expense of Zambians. This is why we have a situation that obtains in our country where we have a country rich in mineral resources – copper, cobalt, emeralds, manganese, gold,” Hichilema said. “But on the other side we have abject poverty where citizens go to bed without decent meals. Children are not in school [and] those who complete school have no jobs. Farmers are paid a poor price for their crop. The missing link to connect the wealth of the country and your welfare is the quality of leadership and that is what the UPND brings to the table.”
He encouraged Zambians to take interest in the welfare of their country and how natural resources were being exploited in the country.
Hichilema said in the particular case of the gold resource, it must for a change benefit Zambians.
“There should never be a contestation around this issue. Botswana was able to improve the lives of Tswanas on account of not many resources but, by and large, one resource in the name of diamond. In the 1980s, Gaborone was a one street town – dusty town. I visited Gaborone…” he explained.
“But successive Tswana governments have managed the diamond resource properly, today Gaborone is like a city in a developed country.”
Hichilema said Zambia’s gold resources ought to support the kwacha which has been battered.
“We want our gold resource to basically generate us revenue that we’ll move away from borrowing all the time and borrowing expensively,” he said, adding that what was going in the management of the gold resource in Zambia clearly showed that the resource would not benefit the Zambians.
“You may call us what you want – philosophers, predictionists. [But] the truth is that in the manner that PF has structured the exploitation of this resource called gold, it will, yet again, not benefit our people. The way it’s being done now, it will be another story of ‘it should have brought benefits but it didn’t’.”
He further asked who owned the foreign companies which the government, through the ZCCM-IH, had allowed to mine gold in selected areas.
“What due diligence was conducted to decide on the partnerships?” he asked.
“What is the interest of the PF in a Sudanese company? It’s for the few politicians in PF to benefit, using foreign companies only as a conduit. Zambians must say no to such deals. You want gold now to be handled the same way mukula is being handled? No!”
Hichilema added that: “God gave us a rich country [and] there is no need for you and your children to be poor.”