2021 presidential aspirant Harry Kalaba says he is confident he will win the election.

And Kalaba has asked the people of Western Province to learn how to speak out and avoid living with pain of being neglected by successive governments since independence.

Speaking when he featured on Radio Lyambai in Mongu, Saturday, Kalaba said he was confident that he would be elected Head of State in 2021.

He said he was in Western Province to consult Democratic Party structures on whether they really wanted him to be their candidate in the next general election.

“I will respond to the Democratic Party in due course, [but] for now, I am still celebrating the invitation, [which] they have extended to me. I know that in 2021, the people of Zambia [and] that is why I have come here in Mongu, is to consult because after they wrote a letter to me, the Democratic Party, I want to be sure that, indeed, they want me, so I am consulting the structures of their party to say, ‘okay, you people, do you really want me to stand as your president?’ And so far, they are saying, ‘we want you to be president.’ So, in 2021, I am going to stand as President of the Republic of Zambia and one of my major priorities is Western Province because we have to show our people what it means to work. So, as to whether I am standing for [the Republican] Presidency? Yes, I am standing, and I am asking the people of Western Province to stand with me, to elect real change in 2021. As to whether we’ll team up or not team up with anybody, we will cross the bridge when we get there, [but] for now, all I know is that I am going to stand for the Presidency [and] I am supremely confident that I will win,” Kalaba predicted.

And Kalaba noted that Western Province, despite being one of the richest in Zambia in terms of natural resources, had been lagging behind economically.

“They want to suppress of my rights, but they can’t stop it because man is condemned to be free. So, my encouragement to everybody, even here in Western Province, is begin to speak up so that people can hear you. If you keep quiet and put things in your heart and chest and you only say, ‘no, we will teach them a lesson in 2021,’ it is your heart, which is going to be growing bigger and bigger because of the pain. Those people that you are saying, ‘we will remove them in 2021’, them, they are always enjoying and drinking red wine, which I’m told helps the heart if at all it does. So, you speak up because when you speak up, they will know that you are not happy because things are not right,” Kalaba advised.

He said Western Province was one of the richest provinces in Zambia, but still lagging behind in terms of economic development because of lack of priorities.

“This is one of the richest provinces this [which] country has. I am sure Daniel Lisulo is turning in his grave; Nalumino Mundia must be turning in his grave; I am sure Arthur Wina is turning in his grave; Munakayumbwa Sipalo is turning in his grave to see a province that they had advocated for experiencing such huge levels of neglect. There is timber here; there are groundnuts; there are cashew nuts here; there is fish here; you’ve got plenty of water here; you’ve got a lot of sand here; you’ve got the Zambezi plains reaching here all the way up to North-Western Province and yet the province still experiences lack! It is because you have only gone to procure roads where you can get kickbacks; it is because the country’s wealth is not being distributed equitably and that only a few are benefiting. And that is why I am saying that it is time for us to change roles. We have got politicians being escorted for far too long, [but] we now want ordinary Zambians to benefit from their wealth,” Kalaba said.

“But because our priorities are not set right, we should have taken the Chinese to help us here improve our growing of rice. Mongu rice is just above the best, but we are using our foreign friends for wrong reasons. Why? Because this province has been neglected and yet this is a province with the most educated Zambians [and] that is why at Independence, we had five out of 16 ministers coming from Western Province. I told you we had Daniel Lisulo, he was a minister; we had Munakayumbwa Sipalo, he was a minister; we had Nalumino Mundia he was a minister, and we had the two Winas, Sikota and Arthur Wina because this province has educated elite and yet every five years, Western Province has escorted politicians to comfort and they have remained wallowing in poverty. What I am saying is [that] the time has come for them to do a paradigm shift.”

He highlighted some of the economic opportunities in the province, further pledging to transform the province utilising its own natural resources.

“Here, in Western Province, when you go to Kaoma, you have got honey, one of the best honey in Africa is coming from Kaoma, [but] how come we don’t even have a factory making honey in Western Province? There in Kaoma, you have got people growing cotton, [but] how come there is even no big plant to employ people? A plant, like we have Mulungushi Textiles in Kabwe, why don’t we have a textile industry right in Kaoma making shirts and trousers? We are all wearing things coming from outside. Here, in Mongu, you have got cashew nut industry, and that industry is even operating below par; you could even be feeding the whole lot in this region if only our priorities were not warped. We are dealing with bad governance. Look, this country has leaders who don’t care about the ordinary people,” Kalaba said.

On the debt situation, Kalaba said because of so much debt, the young generation would have to pay for it.

“I can’t say we are safe as Zambians. We have got K50 billion domestic debt. Now, when you have got K50 billion domestic debt, which is about US $5.5 billion debt, it means that the contractors who are supplying to the armies, that are supplying to the prisons, that are supplying things to the government are not being paid. So, meaning that there is a liquidity squeeze in the economy. Then we have got another nine or close to $10 billion of foreign debt. We have contracted this money because we are building Kenneth Kaunda International Airport, before we even finish Kenneth Kaunda International Airport, we begin building the Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe airport in Ndola. What kind of priorities are these? So, we have contracted debts, which only our children and grandchildren will have to pay,” he narrated.

Kalaba is in Western Province under the invitation of Democratic Party (DP) and is accompanied by United for Better Zambia (UBZ) president Hector Soondo, DP national mobilization chairperson Ian Chapiya and other party officials.