Without you, I would probably be in the village with eight wives today, UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema told First Republican President Dr Kenneth Kaunda yesterday.

Speaking when he visited Dr Kaunda at his residence in Lusaka, Monday, Hichilema thanked the founding father for his guidance.

“Sometimes, we do not remember to do the right things, which is to thank you for guiding our nation over many years; to thank you for sending some of us to school. We are your products. If it wasn’t for you, I would be in the village by now, maybe with eight wives,” Hichilema said.

“So, we owe it to you and your team and also to say; ‘please continue guiding us, continue giving us your counsel, as citizens. [and] As young people, sometimes, we make mistakes, please continue correcting us. We are blessed as a nation to have you.”

And Dr Kaunda offered a short prayer for Hichilema, coupled with his trademark blessing ritual with his white handkerchief.

Meanwhile, speaking when he featured on Muvi TV’s ‘Assignment’ programme, Sunday, Hichilema advised PF to listen to his sound advice even if they did not like him.

“Sometimes, I feel sorry for colleagues who really have not done things before and they were landed with these public jobs and we expect them to deliver. And I can see and read through this situation. Instead of calling people like us [as] alarmists, they should listen to us, if they don’t like Hakainde’s face or ear, they should at least in silence [be] taking some of the issues we alerted them on because if they had listened to us when we said; ‘don’t borrow too much and don’t borrow at the high cost because you are going to create a problem,’ we wouldn’t be in this meltdown,” Hichilema said.

“We are in an economic meltdown, and again, we foresaw that, but when we said it, it was a matter of intense debate. And I understand [because] if you were a typical PF member, you wouldn’t want to hear someone like Hakainde saying the economy is collapsing because you were made to believe that there will be more jobs, you were made to believe that there will be more money in people’s pockets; you were made to believe that salaries would be paid on time; you were made to believe that your taxes will be lower and here is Hakainde saying that, there will be an economic meltdown, there will be no jobs, there will be no money in your pockets, you will have a higher cost of living. What would you say to a guy like Hakainde? You will say he is lying? So, simply put; we are in an economic meltdown [and] there is no debate about it.”

And Hichilema said because of government’s appetite for corruption, the country was undertaking projects such as the Digital Migration at a higher cost.

“This increase in the tax burden is driven by the appetite for debt, which in itself is driven by the appetite for corruption; [or] the high levels of corruption where a project like Digital Migration where [the] ZNBC and TopStar deal that cost the country around US $275 million should have only cost the tax payer US $25 million. For us, in the UPND, we would have spent US $25 million on the Digital Migration and, therefore, we would have saved US $250 million. That would have reduced this burden of debt because we would have spent the right amount of money on one project. Today, tax payers are paying in addition of US $250 million to fund the corruption that has caused these colleagues to borrow more money at a higher cost. Now, you steal money to go and buy a plane when a policeman has been living in an unpainted house for 20 years, he makes a little money and without kindness, you still get that money,” said Hichilema.