UPND president Hakainde Hichilema says it is worrying that the democratic graph in the African leadership is taking a backward turn because leaders do not want to sacrifice for their people.

Meanwhile South Africa’s Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Mmusi Maimane who presented Hichilema with an award described HH as a man of strong character and steadfast principle.

Hichilema who was in South Africa to receive the African Freedom Award by the Germany led Friedrich Naumann Foundation for freedom, noted that there was a lot of fear surrounding citizens in many African countries which made it hard for them to speak against their leaders or hold them accountable.

Hichilema also said leaders needed learn to sacrifice their efforts to better the lives of people in the communities without expecting anything in return.

“We are humbled to be invited to this very important function and I take it as my singular responsibility to thank the President of the Naumann Foundation for recognising in a small way our efforts and I don’t say this to mean that your recognition is small but that thank you for recognising our small efforts in the fight for freedom in Zambia and in the region and Africa as a whole. We thank you for this wonderful award, the African Freedom award 2017, thank you very much for it. We dedicate this award to all of you because we are firm believers of democracy and freedom for all citizens. We are grateful to the people of Zambia, they have been with us through difficult times, the Church, Civil Society Organisations have been of great help and our country values democracy and freedom of all citizens,” Hichilema said.

“We did grow in the 1990s as a continent moving from one party states into democracies now the graph is going back where we are coming from which is worrying. We have a lot of work to do to protect the vulnerable and that does not require anything to do with Persuasion, if it was done out of Persuasion, I think we wouldn’t work. We do believe that those that came before us sacrificed for us to be free. I am not being derogatory here and so those of you [the whites] whose colour is key is not an issue but if those who fought for slavery to end did not sacrifice, you and I would still be in the market place being traded. So we don’t have a choice in our struggle for freedom but to fight selflessly for that rule.”

Hichilema encouraged his fellow leaders to work selflessly to better the lives of their communities without expecting anything in return.

“I also want to encourage you to do what is right for your communities, to do the things that will help the citizens of Africa to get the leadership that they deserve because its that leadership that will advance our communities economically, socially and advance to build the world in a strong and faithful manner. It is those efforts that you are making that should not be based on remuneration. I don’t do things in Zambia because I seek remuneration, not because if you did that then it may also be that build that corrupt leadership which is a brutal dictatorship, you may put. Africa is too rich for its people to be poor. We believe in things that must be available to us , we must also believe that others must also be given chance to enjoy the same things that we want to enjoy,” said Hichilema.

Meanwhile South Africa’s DA leader Mmusi Maimane described Hichilema as a man of strong character who could redefine democracy on the African continent and raise the leadership bar higher.

“This award acknowledges individuals who have made an extraordinary contribution to the cause of freedom in Africa. I can think of no person more deserving of recognition for their efforts to bring freedom and an open society to their country in the face of extreme intimidation, harassment and violence. Most would have been defeated, but Mr Hichilema is not most people. He is a man of strong character and steadfast principle, and he is a treasure to the people of Zambia. He is also a shining example of what I consider to be the next generation of African leaders, men and women who must redefine democracy on this continent and raise the leadership bar infinitely higher. A crop of leaders who must carry the responsibility of writing Africa’s new chapter,” said Maimane.

“I know that the fight being fought by my friend, Hakainde Hichilema will bring change to the people of Zambia. And so I’d like to say to him: Stay strong, stay focused on your goal and don’t let the Big Men and their bullying break your spirit. You are doing important work, and you will prevail. And you must prevail, because our vision for Africa requires many allies on the continent. Our vision for Africa requires that we trade among ourselves. Not to the exclusion of other markets, but certainly to a far greater degree than we currently do. We have enormous untapped markets right across our borders, and this regional trade holds the key to our growth and prosperity as a continent.”