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PF’s 10yrs hooliganism cannot be healed in a month – HH

PRESIDENT Hakainde Hichilema says the 10 years of PF hooliganism cannot be healed in one month and three weeks of his presidency.

Meanwhile, President Hichilema says most Zambians feel he is moving at a slow pace to effect changes in the government system, because: “citizens have been used to a lot of haphazardness, a lot of quick fixes” over the past few years.

Like scoring a first, President Hichilema featured on a special edition of ‘Let the people talk’ programme on Phoenix FM radio on Wednesday.

“How can you be in public office, at this level, for five years, 10 years and you don’t hear the people directly? Remember, in this office (the presidency), there are people around here who think [that] their job is to protect the President from hearing and knowing what people are saying,” he said of his featuring on a live phone-in radio programme.

“I’m not one of those presidents. Not at all!”

President Hichilema also said one of his respected colleagues, after the media notice of him to go live on Phoenix FM radio went viral, objected, saying those in the opposition PF were lining up to embarrass him (the President).

“I said I’m not working for the PF! Yes, they are citizens. But I’m working for all the citizens, and not the PF. And we should not be walking away from commitments because opposition will say things to embarrass you. There is no basis for embarrassing anyone…” President Hichilema said.

He belaboured to explain that there would be “lingering” negative behaviours by some political party cadres.

According to media reports, a shop belonging to a once PF haughty cadre, Kebby Mbewe, was allegedly closed in Choma by UPND supporters, a few days ago.

“10 years of hooliganism cannot be healed in one month and three weeks. It will take a bit of time. But every time it rears its ugly head, it will be dealt with within the law, with respect to human rights, liberties and freedoms,” President Hichilema said. “And we should be singing songs ‘oh! There was an incident in Choma.’ There will be incidents in Lusaka right here. But we’ll reign on those issues. Law and order must apply and [the] law recognises no political party. That’s what our friends (those in the PF regime) failed to do. That’s the leadership we are providing.”

He thanked Zambians for their enduring support to him and for effecting a change of government, “under very difficult circumstances,” two months ago.

“We really appreciate what you did – placing us into this rare opportunity to serve you better. It’s important for us to express that to the people of Zambia. And we want to say to them we’ll not let you down,” President Hichilema said. “We are doing things differently but you’ll see a more, straighter line very soon. As we sit here, we’ve just been in office [for] one month and three weeks. If you see the things we’ve been able to do, to try and bring order, to try and reign in on obvious ills of society, it’s quite a [a lot].”

He recalled that when he was in the opposition, he made a number of commitments to the Zambians.

“Some [people] call them promises. [But] we don’t call them promises; we made commitments to deliver what we consider as the bare minimum for our people. One of the things that we said we’ll do is to rebuild the country from different angles – law and order,” he said. “Who wants to be harassed in a market place? Who wants to be thrown out of a market place, taxi rank, bus stop like you are thief? Nobody! There will be lingering behavioural negatives – it’s human. But we’ll reign in on those. Zambians must feel the freedom. What I hear is that they are feeling this freedom.”

President Hichilema said it is human for members of the UPND to tend to retaliate the PF’s brutality, because: “in the last 10 years they were abused in many violent ways.”

“Our citizens knew some of the citizens who were harassing them by name, by location. Depending on how you look at things, you would say ‘this one took away my market stall [and] so, I’m going to do the same now.’ ‘This one beat me up and so I’m going to do the same.’ I sympathise with those feelings. But I disagree with retribution. That’s the starting point!” President Hichilema explained. “We are providing guidance to the nation that they ought to disagree with retribution, because there will be an endless situation. This group comes in and harasses those that exits, because they were harassed by those when they were in office. Where will this end? We are determined to end this.”

He emphasised that Zambians should have clarity in their mind that retribution is never right.

“If it hurt you and now you want to hurt someone else, then you are lying that it hurt you. If you are hurt, you must want to end the hatred. Simple and straight!” he said. “[But] there will be lingering behaviours, but Zambians can count on this President that the President will reign in on this.”

He said his early pronouncement against retaliation has resulted into reasonable stability, insofar as law and order on the streets.

“You really can’t compare with what was going on at the time when those [PF] hooligans were beating [up] people in Kulima Tower, at Inter City. The relative comparison is that there is calmness now,” President Hichilema said. “[It’s] freedom day, freedom month, freedom year [and] it’s freedom forever. Now, to institutionalise that we need the police to do their work because they are the ones who should maintain law and order. They’ve been given the political will [and] the direction from the Executive. They are part of the Executive, by the way. They ought to protect citizens.”

He added that: “but in doing that, they must not abuse human rights.”

“In maintaining law and order, you don’t have to go out and savagely beat up people, teargas and discharge live ammunition, as was the norm. People forget; it’s only 60 days ago – it was bullets at the High Court there. We have members with bullets in their bodies and the hospitals couldn’t attend to them,” he said. “Now, we have said the hospitals must remove those bullets from their citizens. But in removing bullets from their citizens, we don’t want citizens, in the name of UPND, to sink more bullets in other citizens’ bodies. Not at all! That will not happen. It will not happen; hear it from me.”

President Hichilema noted that if such were to happen, then the law should take its course.

“That does not mean that we don’t like the UPND members. We love them, but we want them to do things within the law,” President Hichilema said.

Meanwhile, when asked about the slow pace at which he is executing changes in the government, he answered that he had a different way of doing things.

“It’s just that it’s a different way of working. Let me put it this way; for us it’s a different way of working from what an average Zambian has known for a long time that governments go in there and do run public affairs in the way they want, when they want to do certain things,” President Hichilema said. “We bring in a different approach to public affairs management. We bring an approach which may actually appear [to be] unusual.”

He underscored that he wants to remain methodical.

“We want to remain organised, and sometimes it’s viewed differently because citizens have been used to a lot of haphazardness, a lot of quick fixes,” said President Hichilema. “We are looking at creating the best framework for solutions that will work for the people, not just in a short-term but in the medium-term, in longer term and more importantly even when we have left office.”

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