HAKAINDE Hichilema’s senior advisor Douglas Syakalima says the UPND will not follow the PF’s murderous path by enticing their leader (Hichilema) to go and campaign, in the midst of the fatal COVID-19 pandemic.
He says the UPND rank and file is not stupid.
Syakalima, who is Chirundu UPND member of parliament, explains that Hichilema carries more burden of spreading the COVID-19 than President Edgar Lungu, based on the two leaders’ seesaw popularity.
He was refuting masked UPND voices and consequent media reports that Hichilema had become too sedentary in the face of a COVID-19 pandemic.
Syakalima brought out the irony of people complaining that roaming President Lungu is spreading the COVID-19, “yet the same people are also saying HH must go out, meanwhile people are dying.”
He indicated that it was well known that Hichilema was more popular than President Lungu.
“You saw how many people went to that commissioning of that flyover. There is nothing those people went to do at that event. But look at how they were crowded! Can you imagine the number of COVID-19 transmissions at that event! Maybe even more than 300 people!” Syakalima said in an interview. “Then at the same time you start telling HH that you also go out to do the same thing that we are condemning. People will ask ‘but where’s the morality?’”
Syakalima said if it were not for the destructive COVID-19 pandemic, the UPND would have been balancing up well, in membership mobilisation.
He noted that if he took Hichilema today, for example, into Lusaka’s Kalingalinga area, “you’ll see the multitude.”
“Tandisobani biya pe (I’m not joking at all)! If I just dropped HH in Chingola today, there will be multitudes who will not be masking and there will be no social distance,” he said. “If, for example, Lungu is killing (infecting with COVID-19) inadvertently 200 people per day, that will be twice as much for HH.”
Asked about how the party would compensate for loss of time, insofar as canvassing for support, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, Syakalima said: “HH can go out there and there will be massive people. So, the spread of the disease will be massive, as well.”
“The police will come and kill some who will attend HH’s event. HH carries more burden of spreading the disease, than Lungu. The police will come and throw tear-gas to the diseased people,” he said. “So, the rate of dying will be faster. When you ask about time, in terms of serving life, you have to be morally upright, to tell you the truth. I may look not to have an answer to your question but in terms of saving life, I would rather follow a moral route.”
He asked: “who are you going to rule if you start competing in killing people?”
Syakalima insisted that taking Hichilema to be meeting people would certainly be a competition of killing those people.
“Like I have said, can you imagine just dropping HH in Kalingalinga and then he starts walking. You’ll see the multitude and the police will come and say ‘there’s COVID-19′,” Syakalima said.
“So, yes time is being lost and these other people have taken advantage [with early campaigns]. But should we also follow them to become murderers, just because we may have no time [for campaigns] in the end? No!”
He pointed out that the alternative for the UPND was to utilise community radio stations, by having Hichilema on special interviews.
Syakalima indicated that that strategy had worked well so far, “except now there are cadres going to disrupt HH’s programmes.”
“HH has touched almost every angle of this country. He has gone to many places than even Lungu has done in the past. People know HH! But that anxiety of saying that we want to see him…Obviously, it’s a human nature,” Syakalima, a psychologist, explained. “The day before yesterday (Wednesday), I went to Mandevu market and I could see people walking freely, as if there is nothing, at the height of increased COVID-19 cases.”
Syakalima said: “we are being told everyday how many people are dying.”
“It does not matter whether these people are lying. It does not matter whether these people just want money from donors. Yes, we know that they are thieves; they want to use COVID-19 as a begging bowl. But people are getting infected and dying, indeed. Some of them bakafutukila ku lwala (survived by a whisker)!” he said.
On those downplaying the efficacy of social media to carry out political work, Syakalima noted that technology was there for such, inter alia.
“Yes, some people are saying you’ll not win an election using social media. But this is why technology has come. We’ll use technology, community radio stations. All we’ll need, at some point, is to say COVID-19 has eased. So, those communities who were hearing about you (Hichilema), you can go. How many presidential candidates are actually moving, anyway, apart from these in the PF who are spreading the disease?” he explained.
Syakalima further branded as “cosmetic” the PF’s recent victories in ward by-elections.
“If PF is popular, where are the people who are happy? No one seems to be happy,” he said, adding that those in the PF were not celebrating their victories because they knew how phony they were. “[But] we are not stupid! In Chienge (Katete ward by-election) they got 1,000 plus votes and we got 600 plus. In 2011, the entire Luapula Province the UPND (at presidential level) got 1,000 plus votes. But here we are now, getting 600 plus votes in a small ward! What does that show you? Can you claim that that is your stronghold?”
Meanwhile, Syakalima said there was a possibility that even the people who were being issued with national registration cards in perceived PF strongholds would not vote for the ruling party.
He underscored that people could be complaining because: “they want to see him (Hichilema) again; to see the figure itself.”
“But I think he has reached out. If people were fair enough…You can see that even the PF are saying ‘let him get out…’ (Laughs)! It’s because the pressure on them that they are killing people has mounted. So, they want to share blame. They are short of taking HH to the streets so that people can blame him [for COVID-19 infections],” Syakalima said.
He concluded that those in the UPND were “a little intelligent, if at all a little is what one requires.”
“There is human life here. I’m a behavioural scientist and I was trained to save lives. I must know what exactly kills people…This disease has no cure and certain things can affect your immunity just because you are thinking about them,” said Syakalima. “Already now there are no testing kits in our country. Then you want to offload another person who will attract more crowds than Lungu. He (Hichilema) is not afraid himself, per se. He will be masking [but] how about the people? Now people don’t even want a message from HH; they already know what he stands for. All they want to see is his skin.”