UPND president Hakainde Hichilema has declared hunger a national disaster, asking President Edgar Lungu to emulate him in order to avoid deaths as a result of starvation in some parts of the country.

And Hichilema says President Edgar Lungu is using climate change to mask the fact that he has failed to run the affairs of the nation.

Speaking during briefing, Monday, Hichilema said he would not wait for President Lungu to declare hunger a national disaster.

“Let me use this opportunity to declare an emergency and a disaster with regards to hunger in this country. I declare, I will not wait for Lungu or PF, we’ll do what we can, what we have been doing in different ways, you see the trucks moving sometimes and you must just know that HH has put some bags of mealie meal in there,” Hichilema said.

“But HH is just one citizen, he cannot feed all the citizens, it is the duty of government, that’s why we want a declaration, I have started myself, I want Lungu to follow my lead and declare hunger a national disaster. He is already following my lead, he has started talking economics which he doesn’t understand but he must also follow suit on this one.”

He said the Head of State was using climate change to justify his failure.

“What country is Mr Lungu leading? Where is he taking this country? He is hiding behind ‘Ms’ climate change. Do not hide, sir, behind the finger. We will see you, we have seen you, we saw you on Friday hiding behind a finger. You have failed to provide leadership. I know it is difficult to admit but the factors are saying that you have failed. You may hide as many as you want but we know, the citizens know,” Hichilema said.

“The fact that you are buying a jet for US$75 million when citizens have no food and you are refusing to declare hunger a national disaster shows that you have failed to provide leadership. I think Zambians have seen you, you can’t hide behind climate change, you can’t. Citizens are seeing you, this is a serious matter…They are using hunger as a political weapon against our people. They want our people to suffer more. I think they think that if people suffer more, then they will vote for them, that is wrong. Number two, they are afraid that when emergency is declared, I think aid will come for food also for water and then they will have no opportunity to manipulate citizens, that is the issue.”

Meanwhile, Hichilema said President Lungu should be ashamed of what his party had done to Zambia.

“When I started talking about ‘don’t borrow too much money’, PF were saying ‘HH is bitter’. PF inherited a debt portfolio of just around two million dollars. Today, external debt only is US$ 15 billion [and] he is blaming climate change. Mr Lungu and PF should be ashamed for what they have done to this country,” he said.

“That is why I have said among the first things we are going to do is sell that jet recover the money and put the money into agriculture, into students in colleges, put the money into water supply.”

Hichilema also accused PF of trying to import power corruptly.

“Electricity imports is another disaster. They enjoy importing electricity because there is corruption in it. And they will import electricity at a higher cost than generating it through solar in this country. And I am telling you now that they are proposing to increase electricity tariffs but there is load shedding, there is no money, they want you to suffer and suffer more and tomorrow they will come and say ‘pa bwato’ (vote on the boat). So what do they think of you? They think that you are robots? Zambian people are clever I have trust in the people of Zambia,” said Hichilema.