UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema has sent a message of hope to all Zambians struggling with various economic challenges, pledging to liberate citizens from their struggle once he becomes Republican President.

And Hichilema has thanked some members of the Patriotic Front, who he said called him on the phone to give messages of good will as he appeared before the Ndola Central Police Division for questioning on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Hichilema has described the private meeting he recently held with President Edgar Lungu ahead of the national political dialogue as “open, polite and frank”.

Addressing a press briefing in Lusaka, Thursday, Hichilema acknowledged that he was aware of all the challenges that Zambians were facing due to the harsh economy and assured them that things would get better soon.

“With all the challenges that we have in our country, I am here to give you a message that do not lose hope because a better tomorrow is around the corner, and there is no doubt about that for me. The reason why I do what I do, the reason I chose to seek public office is because I know that you can have a better life as citizens of Zambia. I know that God gave us more than our fair share of resources. I know that we can work with these resources to make your lives better. I know that our singular duty as leaders is to take our people back to work, our youths who are unemployed, do not lose hope,” Hichilema said.

“Our women who have lost their small businesses, you must not lose hope, you must retain your hope because we exist, we stand for you even under difficult circumstances because we know that you come first. I am aware, as a businessperson, that your lives will be better very soon. I am aware that that young guy who is not in school today can be taken to a classroom tomorrow, and not just to learn academic subjects, but also to be taught life skills. I know you’ve been asking that when is this going to happen. It’s soon. You just know that it is soon.”

And Hichilema thanked everyone, including those in PF who wished him well on Tuesday this week, when he appeared before the Ndola Police Divisional Headquarters for questioning on alleged seditious practices.

“This police call-out generated mixed feelings, anxiety amongst the people, fear amongst some people and it is also true to say anger amongst other people. People were reminding themselves of what could happen, that Tuesday in Ndola. So, the air towards Tuesday was heavy in Ndola, you could touch it, you could feel it in your hands. The nation’s ears, eyes and minds were drawn to the Copperbelt, undoubtedly. Some people were just calling me on the phone without saying anything, but cry. Others would insult, but what I am trying to say is that several people reacted differently. There is no doubt that Tuesday could have turned out very ugly had police allowed things to go out of hand. But I must say that the police conducted themselves very professionally and I commend them for that,” Hichilema said.

“I also want to thank all of you; I want to thank the citizens of this country for conducting yourselves well before, on Tuesday and after Tuesday. It is my duty and I shall say it here that for the first time. I am not sure whether it was the fear or the worry of what Tuesday might have become, very surprising to many, but I am not surprised that we received a lot of calls from PF members, known PF members giving us their encouragement and basically accepting that the country needed to be reconstructed and that we can only do it together, that’s a milestone. It is an indication that citizens of this country are beginning to accept that they should not be divided by artificial or imaginary lines. They are one people and they suffer the same consequences, they suffer the same economic challenges. So, it is our duty to help bring our country together. So, thank you to those members of PF, and I am aware that others are just afraid to say anything in case they are misunderstood.”

Meanwhile, Hichilema described the private meeting he recently held with President Edgar Lungu ahead of the national political dialogue as “open, polite and frank”.

“I wish to confirm to all our members, supporters and other citizens across the country that after a long wait, as you may have heard, the country now has agreed that dialogue is essential in order to deal with many challenges that affect our country. It is agreed that the Church mother bodies shall lead the dialogue process. I want to thank the Church leaders for accepting to undertake this obligation. A few days ago, I met my colleague, ECL, for us to talk about the importance of dialogue and that we cannot pull our legs anymore. We cannot continue to have the luxury of living ordinary lives in our homes when citizens are hurting and I am glad to say to you that the meeting was open, polite but also frank, very frank. We agreed that we must provide leadership in our country at this moment and the dialogue process was one platform that we needed to utilise effectively,” revealed Hichilema.

“We agreed that we will go to this dialogue process without any pre-conditions. Everything that is hurting our people will be brought to the table and we, as two leaders working with the Church, should be able to agree on something that will benefit our people, not anyone of us as individuals. We were also able to touch on things that need to be dealt with in order to bring this country to normalcy. Amongst the things that we said needed to be dealt with is to end violence in our communities. This dialogue should be about issues that will heal our nation and allow us to choose leaders not because of the ethnicity we belong to, or the Church we go to, but because of substance. And what’s that substance? To deliver for the people of Zambia. So, I ask all the UPND members to give this dialogue process a chance, let’s give it our support. I also don’t expect anyone to hide behind the dialogue process to do ugly things. Neither should anyone hide behind the dialogue process to continue the old bad habits that are bringing conflicts in our country.”