UPND president Hakainde Hichilema says ingredients are right for the opposition party to form government in 2021.

Speaking at the National Management Committee meeting in collaboration with the National Democratic Institute where the party was updating its manifesto, Hichilema said what remained now was for the UPND to put its act together and collaborate with others to ensure the coming general elections bring about change of government.

“The ingredients are correct for this party to assume office. It’s up to us; we can’t work alone, we need partners, we need friends. If you agree with me that part of dismantling the debt mountain is restructuring debt, replacing the expensive debt with cheaper debt, at this rate we should be getting ready to run this country like yesterday. You can’t change a country if you yourself is not ready to deal with challenges of change. You can’t! Yes, we have to campaign, that is important; we can’t forget about it. We have to win an election…in order to implement our manifesto, let us not forget that,” Hichilema said.

“I want to assure the women of this country, youths of this country, the differently-abled of this country…you will clearly see how we are going to address the challenges of [all citizens and] the differently-abled amongst ourselves. In a country whose standards have been lowered, if you are strong and you believe in something, many people think there is something wrong with you because mediocrity has taken the space of meritocracy.”

He urged the Committee members to come up with solutions that will help salvage the country’s economy.

“The economy is shrinking…by year end, debt will grow to $21 billion plus, what are left with? You inherited an economy whose headroom is only $3 billion. How are you going to create resources for employment? It must come out in that manifesto…I dream every time about how we can create a better country, [so] you should do the same. If we as a party do not restore the rule of law, you can forget about accelerating economic development,” Hichilema said.

“If you can’t bring back respect for human rights, liberties and freedoms, you cannot [develop] because there is a correlation between freedoms and enterprises; we cannot lower the cost of doing business, we cannot accelerate economic development…I have annoyed you enough, unless you share the different vision of some party called PF which is destroying this country. If you share a vision with the UPND, you understand where we are coming from. We have a very consistent party, we have not been understood by many people but God has his own ways. The things we talked about in 2012, 2013, 2014, that the debt mountain will recur, that jobs will be lost as opposed to more jobs, that the cost of living will be high, everything that we talked about is here now.”

He urged the NMC members to come up with a workable manifesto that will assure Zambians of an honest fight against corruption.

“If after we form government, we are still going to be grappling with Mukula licenses going to other people and the youths of Zambia and the women of Zambia and others can’t get a Mukula license; they are competing with someone, I don’t want to victimise particular global citizens today, but you know what I am talking about; if we form government, and we are still grappling with the FIC report trend and HH is able to stand and rubbish the FIC report ati ‘mfwiti mfwiti mfwiti’ no prosecution…what are you saying?” asked Hichilema.

“This document should encourage and assure citizens that when we take office, we will fight corruption at a point that oversight institutions like FIC will remain as independent institutions. It will not go as a department of the Drug Enforcement Commission which is moribund itself as being proposed by PF. This is to hide corruption… How are going to assure Zambians that you are the right party to take over from the mess that is going on? The country has become so cheap; they detest those with facts. I don’t want to be detested by you people but it is scaring to know that your economy is shrinking; it is scaring. You sit here, how are you going to create jobs if the economy is declining from seven per cent in 2011 to two per cent as it is now? How are you going to lift it up? How are you going to deal with the debt mountain which is eating away resources that can allow you to invest in revenue generation areas to accelerate development, to create jobs and everything else?”