UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema says President Edgar Lungu will soon regret for trying to take the place of God to suggest that he will never be Republican President.

And Hichilema says his party will never allow a constitutional amendment process that is not led by the Church to be passed in Parliament.

Meanwhile, Hichilema says any schooled person in the Patriotic Front (PF) should have explained to President Lungu that “it is not that easy to replace the Value Added Tax (VAT) with Sales Tax” because there is a lot of infrastructure and resources invested in the old system.

Speaking when he featured on Prime Television’s Oxygen of Democracy programme, Monday, Hichilema said he was not affected by President Lungu’s tribal remarks against him as God’s ways are not the ways of man.

“Mr Lungu wants to take the place of God. [But] the first Commandment in the Bible, written in God’s own handwriting says ‘There shall be no other God other than me’, who is that me? It is God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. And in Bemba they say Umutakatifu (the Holy Spirit). This is the God and only God that there is, and there shall be no other God. But Mr Lungu wants to take the place of God, he wants to decide who becomes President and who does not become President. But it’s only God who decides through the people of Zambia,” Hichilema said. “It never worries me an inch when he makes those tribal remarks against me, I don’t even spend sleepless nights [thinking about it]. I just laugh about it and I feel sorry for him. But soon, he will regret what he said because God has always said ‘your ways are not my ways’. God’s ways are totally different from Mr Lungu’s rantings. We don’t need enmity, he (Lungu) is projecting enmity. Taking the place of God, he can never be God. So why drive enmity? Why say things that he says about citizens of this country? He’s [already] governing, so what’s the trouble?”

On the constitution amendment process, the opposition leader said his party has always been for the Church-led exercise.

“The Constitution amendment needs to be taken to dialogue under the three Church mother bodies, then we can discuss as a nation what changes we want to make. At that point, there will be no need for our MPs to walk out of parliament because we will do the correct thing, we’ll follow the right process and correct content. But what PF tried to do was to cheat as usual, to cheat the people. People would have woken up on Saturday morning only to an announcement that the Constitution had been amended. But we can never allow that to happen and we don’t even count the number of times we’ll walk out of Parliament [in protest], we will act in other ways. By the way, while people were sleeping on Thursday in the night, we never slept some of us to protect the interests of Zambians and that’s why the result was like that on Friday morning. Again, I want to congratulate the UPND members of parliament and some progressive independent members for not allowing the Constitution Amendment on the floor of the House,” Hichilema said.

“I also want to appeal to the PF members of parliament, you should be on the right side of history, definitely you are on the wrong side of history. This Constitution should outlive individual members of parliament who are in the House now, it should outlive the next generation of members of parliament and you can only do that by conducting yourselves correctly and for the interest of the people.”

On the government’s plans to replace VAT with the Goods and Services Tax (GST) commonly referred to as Sales Tax, Hichilema said the proposed tax was not as easy as the PF thought.

“The VAT platform has invested a lot of money in the country; points of sale, if you go to a supper market to buy something, that till machine was configured to VAT. So this means it’s not just taxpayer’s money which was spent on the infrastructures of VAT, it is also the private companies that invested in VAT infrastructure, including points of sales, those little equipment you see when you go at a shop and they punch in…,” he said. “So there was just no planning to this shift from VAT to Sales Tax. Is there anyone who can argue that there was no planning? No! Dudu Mwanakatwe who I know very well knew that there was no planning put into replacing VAT with Sales Tax, there is nothing!…A schooled person should have advised Mr Lungu that ‘Sir, this measure cannot work because we’ve not planned for not’ and that’s the message I gave.”

Hichilema said the PF, instead, argued and later postponed the sales tax implementation twice.

“…and Bwalya Ng’andu who also I know very well, it had to take Bwalya Ng’andu to admit what I was advising four months ago that replacing a tax like VAT could not be done by word of mouth. Margaret Mwanakatwe said she consulted, but what did Bwalya Ng’andu say on the floor of the House a few days ago? He said ‘Mr Speaker, I would like to withdraw this GST from the floor of the House because I want to consult more’,” he said.

Hichilema further said the country’s debt crisis had continued to worsen due to PF’s extravagant expenditure.

“By end of April, 2019…the debt position was as huge as USD $18.9 billion. I said it in 2015, by then our debt in our calculation was USD $17 billion, and everybody argued. But there are the numbers now, confirmed by the IMF. We didn’t even need the IMF to confirm that for us, we knew it as citizens and we were advising them but nobody followed our advice…money has gone arising from corruption, money has gone in extravagance where Mr Lungu is traveling everyday not to drive development but to draw allowances for him and his huge entourage,” he said.

“…Therefore, we must not be shy to say that the PF have failed and they must come out. We must emphatically say that PF has failed because even those who believed in PF now understand that they are suffering too in their homes, they are hungry! The cost of food is too high.”

Hichilema also thanked the people of Katuba for electing a UPND candidate in the recently held parliamentary by-election, saying the constituents had demonstrated that nothing would stand in the way of regime change in 2021.