There has been growing jubilation in Mongu since UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema and his deputy Geoffrey Mwamba arrived for the Kuomboka ceremony yesterday.
Thousands of cheerful opposition supporters literally filled the streets to give HH’s entourage a welcome, even more ecstatic than during the campaign.
“Forward! Forward! Forward…!” was the only word residents, mostly clad in UPND party regalia, could shout to express their excitement at seeing HH.
Motorists hooted, women screamed and the men whistled in chorus to show their solidarity for the UPND leader, who still contends that he was duped of a clearly won 2016 election.
During the grand entry into Mongu which the UPND media team beamed live on Facebook, HH and GBM waved and blew flying kisses to their supporters.
Hichilema later went to Radio Lyambai and could not find the words to describe his gratitude.
“I must thank sichaba sachilozi for giving us a wonderful overwhelming vote in 2016. They gave us a vote that makes me feel so deeply indebted to the people of buLozi. Sichaba saBulozi, litumezi ahulu for the votes munifile with my colleague here as a running mate and members of parliament. I must say that we delivered the presidential vote hundred per cent, even the members of parliament in the province. We got the overwhelming vote. I don’t know what words to use to say thank you. And I want to tell you something you know already. We are in court over the presidential election. That’s a fact; we are in court because we believe we won the election,” HH said.
“But today, we are here and arrived to this thunderous welcome. The number of women I saw, beautiful Lozi women, if I had a way I would marry all these Lozi girls; Mbunda Lubale, Nyengo, Kwanga. We came here for the Kuomboka. It is a wonderful tradition, it is our heritage and we are here to rejoice with the people of Zambia on this very important occasion. I am a traditionalist myself and a headman where I come from. In case you don’t know I am a senior headman.”
He said the Kuomboka ceremony was a reminder for the need for freedom of assembly.
“All are welcome and we must give credit to you for welcoming everybody. We heard rumours that we are not wanted here, huh! How can a child of buLozi not be wanted here? This occasion demonstrates the freedom of assembly, its important that citizens are allowed to move freely. To be honest we don’t even need police here. This is an international event and a tourist attraction,” he said.
When Radio presenter Derek, asked for his views on whether Zambia should remain a member of the International Criminal Court, HH said if the PF government went ahead to pull out of the ICC, UPND would sue.
“Zambia signed the ICC protocols many years ago. In my view, the ICC was well thought through, in the sense that if you have a leadership of a country that does not respect human rights, that does not respect the rule of law; there must be someone to superintend such governments,” HH said.
He wondered why the government would consider pulling out of the ICC when the ruling party had reported UPND to the same organ.
“Zambia cannot come out of the ICC, why come out of the ICC now. What has happened? After all, my colleague here GBM and I have been reported to the ICC and we are very happy to go and give our story. And somebody wants to pull out of the ICC, why waste taxpayers money. We want to tell the people of Zambia that do not be worried, nobody will take Zambia out of the ICC,” HH said.
“Anybody who wants to pull out of the ICC will be confirming their dictatorship, their crimes against humanity. We in the UPND want to stay in the ICC and we will insure that Zambia stays in the ICC. If anybody takes Zambia out of ICC, we will do everything including going to court. I hope you know that the South African President wanted to pull out of the ICC and the citizens went to court and the court said ‘you cannot pull out’. I am saying here, Zambia, you cannot pull out. Only the guilty are afraid, we are not guilty.”
He also complained that police fired teargas at the UPND secretariat.
“We need fundamental basic human rights and freedoms. Freedom of assembly is a fundamental constitutional universal human right. Freedom of movement; as we came to Mongu we didn’t need anybody to stop us on the way, we are not criminals,” said HH.
“No one can take it away freedom from a citizen of a country or a citizen of the world. The rule of law, where the police should not fire teargas at the UPND secretariat in Mongu because the people here are peaceful. Nobody is fighting in Mongu or in Western Province. Why would a policeman go and fire teargas or a bullet? I want to thank sichaba sa Mongu, mambumbwe ya Lyambai, for overwhelmingly rejecting that unnecessary commission, wasting money.
Batu muchaha babata misebezi, babata lijo. Utwile? Babata zwelopili not wasting K2billion of their taxpayer money.”