UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema says the need for President Edgar Lungu to declare hunger as a national disaster is now a matter of urgency.

In a statement, Sunday, Hichilema said failure to seek international support could result in some people dying from starvation.

“We continue asking Mr. Edgar Lungu and his PF to listen to voices of reason that are calling for an urgent declaration of hunger as a national emergency in order to attract the much needed international support for food relief. The hunger situation which can largely be attributed to poor leadership and management is widespread in most of Zambia’s rural communities but acute in regions that experienced low rainfall. Even in those areas that received adequate rains, starvation is stalking households because the staple food price ranging between K120 to K144 per 25Kg bag of mealie meal is far beyond the reach of our poor citizens, who are already burdened with unemployment, load shedding high taxes and unaffordable fuel costs,” Hichilema stated.

“This is a national disaster and no amount of self-denial by Mr. Edgar Lungu and his PF friends will improve the provision of food, unless international support is officially sought for through the declaration of a national emergency, as a result of the prevailing hunger situation. We recommend that Mr. Lungu and the PF effect the following remedial measures as a matter of urgency: 1- Declare hunger a national disaster (as outlined above) and ask for international support for relief food to avert loss of lives due to starvation. 2- Cease all maize exports to neighbouring countries and elsewhere until such a time that we have enough stocks in our reserves to guarantee food security for our people. 3- Allow free movement of maize and mealie meal from surplus to deficit areas within our country. This restriction that appear to favour certain business and political interests is inappropriate and immoral and must be lifted immediately.”

He stated that once UPND was voted into office, it would ensure that there was food security at all times.

“The PF should immediately implement the above measures in order to mitigate and lessen the hunger situation and the suffering of our people across the country. When the UPND is voted into office, we commit to the people of Zambia that ensuring food security at all times, even during a drought, will be among our key priorities. This we shall achieve by implementing proactive agriculture, energy and other sector related appropriate policies,” stated Hichilema.

“It is troubling that the PF celebrates the culture of firefighting and prolonging suffering of our people in order to find ways of defrauding citizens and weaponizing the hunger situation in the process. True leadership calls for love and affection for the people in need, not the hatred against fellow citizens we see and hear about every day from those occupying public office.”