UPND spokesperson Charles Kakoma says the party is already in charge of running Zambia as evidenced by the positive responses from donors who have heeded the call to intervene in the country’s hunger crisis.

Reacting to the UK’s Department for International Development (DfID) donation of £1,000,000 towards Zambia’s hunger crisis barely a week since UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema decided to declare hunger a national disaster, Kakoma bragged that the opposition party was calling the shots in running the affairs of the country as evidenced by the timely response by the donor community.

“HH is ready to help this country. HH is ready to rule this country, and HH is leading the way in governing this country, even in opposition, we are calling the shots! We are ruling the country. If the government can be dancing to HH’s tune, it means we are the ones in control. You have seen that even in the case of power shortages at Chawama Hospital after HH decided to help that community, the government was shaken and they have done something on the power shortage,” Kakoma said.

“After HH decided to tour Chongwe, Rufunsa, Chibombo (districts) to assess the hunger situation, the Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit (DMMU) are panicking and trying to distribute relief food. But obviously, what DMMU have is not enough; we know that they have low stock in their reserves. They needed international help, and that help may only come if the government comes out in the open to declare the hunger situation a disaster.”

He described the government’s response to the opposition leader’s initiatives as one where when Hichilema coughed, President Edgar Lungu caught a cold.

“The situation can be described as when HH coughs or sneezes, Edgar Lungu catches a cold. When HH says something, that is what makes Edgar Lungu to move because the government is sleeping. Edgar Lungu is sleeping. He can only be awoken when HH leads the way in decision-making. We are ruling from the opposition, it is us leading the way and the ruling party is following,” Kakoma argued.

“Obviously, the UPND and its president, Hakainde Hichilema, are opinion leaders in Zambia, they are respected not just in Zambia, but the world-over so what Hakainde Hichilema says carries a lot of weight.”

He, however, observed that it was not certain that the British government was responding to Hichilema’s call for help, but that their actions remained clear that his declaration had influenced their decision.

“You can’t [tell] for certain, but you can recall that the outgoing British High Commissioner to Zambia (Fergus Cochrane-Dyet) did also raise concerns about the hunger situation in Zambia before he left the country. And we think that his voice and his request to his government to help was obviously strengthened by Hakainde Hichilema declaration of hunger as a national disaster. I think those clarion calls helped the British to come and help,” Kakoma further argued.

“The British are responding to the current reality on the ground in Zambia. Obviously, Hakainde Hichilema’s declaration of the hunger situation as a disaster has gone a long way in influencing the decision of international institutions and government’s decision to step in and help.”

He added that there was nothing wrong for the British government to listen to an opposition leader.

“There is nothing wrong with British government listening to an opposition leader. The government of Britain cannot only be helping because the ruling party or ruling government has said so, even opposition parties, NGOs and churches can be listened to by the British government. And the British government is right to help based on those calls from stakeholders,” Kakoma said.

“But it also reflects the fact that, not only is UPND on the ground, not only is HH on the ground, but other stakeholders, including international institutions, and other countries in the world, who have assessed correctly that there is seriously a hunger situation in Zambia and there is need for intervention.”

He hailed the British government for engaging NGOs and the Church in distributing the donations that would be made.

“Instead of donating that relief food to the government, they want to use non-governmental organization and the Church (because) they will do a better job than government, which is living in denial! Even if that donation was given to government, they will not distribute it properly to the people because they don’t think that there is a serious hunger situation in the country,” said Kakoma.

“So, we would like to thank the British government for that gesture; it will save a lot of lives in Zambia. Let them continue to help humanity in that manner; they should not stop helping because a dictatorial government, a government that does not care for the people like the PF government is (in) not requesting for the aid. It is in their own right to assist human beings in Zambia because they think they need to intervene and care for them.”