Hakainde Hichilema has said it is hypocritical of government to condemn xenophobia in South Africa when the ruling party is ‘xenophobic’ towards “certain ethnic groupings”.

And Hichilema has charged that the price of mealie meal has continued to rise because the PF went ahead with exporting maize even when the country did not have enough stock, resulting into insufficient supply.

Speaking on Sun FM’s public discussion programme, Wednesday, Hichilema said there was ‘xenophobia’ in Zambia which the ruling Patriotic Front was championing against opponents.

“The people who attacked me are known PF thugs, they have never been taken to court. You are talking of xenophobia in South Africa; there is xenophobia here. Right now, there is xenophobia, you are UPND, you should be killed by the PF. Mapenzi Chibulo, you have forgotten? Grayzer Matapa? We have UPND members living with bullets in their bodies today, shot at by the PF system. One was shot when we were going for the 2016 nomination…the PF cadre pulled a gun and shot him. The PF cadre is known by name, that is one form of xenophobia. What is xenophobia? Hatred of people by certain people and in the process, you act in an aggressive way like what is happening in South Africa, very ugly situation. But there is xenophobia here and we have been asking this government to deal with xenophobia on ethnic basis,” Hichilema said.

“Shapi Wakunuma has no job today because of ethnicity. He was doing his duty, policing Sesheke. He does a professional job, he and those of other ethnic groups…they retire them in national interest.”

He further alleged that it is ‘xenophobia’ to lock up Chishimba Kamwbili and deny him police bond beyond the constitutional limit because he is a member of the National Democratic Congress.

“This country must come to terms with what is happening in our streets before we can tackle xenophobia in South Africa which is unacceptable,” Hichilema said.

And Hichilema has said the price of mealie meal wouldn’t be as exorbitant as it is today if the country had enough maize stock.

“If they had listened to my advice on the 11th of September, 2018, they would not have opened the maize exports. Remember, they exported maize and they were arguing that they had enough maize. If they had enough maize, let’s assume they were right, the price of mealie meal wouldn’t have gone up because the supply side of maize would have been okay, and it would have only been impacted in a small way by the cost of milling. But now, it is the price of electricity which has gone up, the price of diesel which has gone up and the shortage of maize which is why the price of mealie meal has gone up,” said Hichilema.

“The first thing that tells you that there is a problem is the price of the staple food, mealie meal, before you even venture out to go into the countryside. Hunger arises not only from the absence of food; there is a misconception by those in PF that if there is mealie meal in a shop, then there is no hunger. That is ignorance of the highest order. Hunger can arise because there is absence of food in the household barns, in the shops. It can also arise because the food that is there is unaffordable as the case is. The price of mealie meal is beyond reach. When the PF took office, they found a bag of mealie meal at K30 per 25kg bag; today it’s unaffordable. So there is hunger because citizens are unemployed, there are no business opportunities for them. You don’t have to ask that question because if the economy declines from seven per cent to two per cent, there will be no businesses, there will be no disposable income, there will be no money.”