UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema says the food stampede that left eight people dead this morning in Lusaka is a sign that people in Zambia are faced with serious starvation.

Church of Christ distributed food hampers to thousands of its followers during an outreach programme, but the exercise caused a stampede that left eight dead and 28 others battling for their lives at the Olympic Youth Development Center in Lusaka.

In a statement, Hichilema sympathised with the bereaved families.

“It is with a heavy heart that we wish to convey a message of condolences to the families whose brothers and sisters died in a stampede this morning at Olympic Youth Development Center in Lusaka. Our sincere condolences go to them and we call on the nation to put the families in prayer. However, these deaths were avoidable in the sense that our people died as they were looking for food, which has become a luxury under the current Government. Our people are dying needlessly because of hunger. This is totally unacceptable and we should bow our heads in shame,” Hichilema stated.

“We have always stated that our country’s economy has been mismanaged by those claiming to be in leadership, and true to our word people are now dying in stampedes as they jostle for food. Food which will not even last them a month but a meal. This is how desperate the citizens have become.”

He said Zambia was endowed with abundant natural resources and it was illogical to let people die of hunger.

“How can a country so rich as ours be failing to feed its own people and yet some people when globetrotting pretend that there is no hunger among ourselves? What happened at OYDC, in Lusaka is a clear indication of what is happening throughout the country. Our people need food relief and politicians such as those claiming leadership must begin providing food and not death,” stated Hichilema.

“People should not die like this but PF and Mr Edgar Lungu have allowed such situations because they are not affected. They can have 6 meals a day, paid for by Zambians. Once more sincere condolences to the families and as a country let us mourn with them because this demise is not by choice but basically inflicted by PF and Mr Edgar Lungu on the innocent souls.”

And speaking when he featured on Joy Fm’s The Platform programme, Hakainde said the poverty levels that the country was experiencing today was more worrying than ever before.

“The people of Zambia have never suffered in the recent years compared to the way they are suffering now, I can only lighten the current suffering now to the 1980’s under the one party state, that’s how people are suffering. Anyone who is listening to this programme today knows that they do not have enough food in there home,” Hichilema said.

He said he foresaw a situation where families broke down because of unemployment, poverty, crime and other atrocities.

“I always remind people to say now that your children are hungry, when the economy is down everything goes down, even marriages start to break…Families are likely to break with the levels of poverty the
country is experiencing, quarrels will increase in homes, I urge couples to be tolerate of their spouses  and be tolerant of your children too but you must also know that these problems are coming because of the poor leadership in this country,” he said.

And in response to PF deputy secretary Mumbi Phiri who called the station to argue that the UPND leader had no respect for the Head of State, Hichilema said Mumbi needed to worry about what was happening at OYDC because such was a responsibility of the Government.

“The Police have just confirmed that eight people died while 28 are injured in a stampede at OYDC over mealie meal, they have confirmed that. Now, Mumbi Phiri is worrying about what Edgar Lungu is called, whether he is called His Excellency or not, that’s not important because a long name does not confer value to you but it’s to your substance. We were not born with titles, we were born with nothing and we shall die with nothing, so why should we worry about a name, I mean Mumbi Phiri worries whether she is called Mrs Phiri or not aaahh
kwena Musika you are Mumbi Phiri that’s all, what more do you want,” Hichilema said.

Hichilema also condemned attacks on the Law association of Zambia president Linda Kasonde saying the association was there to serve the interest of the people.

“We want to engage Lungu and ask him to stop his cadres from attacking people. This was the same Law Association of Zambia that was vocal when PF was in opposition and MMD was in office, it is the same
organisation even today, now today because they are talking on behalf of citizens with regard to the rule of law you want to attack them, the  reason they are attacking LAZ is because it has joined just as we
have joined the matter on whether Lungu is eligible for 2021 or not, he’s not eligible and why go and attack LAZ?” wondered Hichilema