UPND president Hakainde Hichilema says Zambians will experience more hunger and economic pain if voters do not change government in the upcoming August 12 general election.

And Hichilema says he is ready to dialogue with President Edgar Lungu to stop the killing of innocent people.

Meanwhile, Hichilema says it is shocking that some of the COVID-19 donations he and other stakeholders made are being politicised by the PF.

Speaking on Diamond TV’s Costa programme, Sunday evening, Hichilema cautioned Zambians that if the PF were left in power beyond the 2021 general election, citizens should expect strenuous times and more hunger.

“First, if the UPND does come into government, the Economic Recovery Plan (ERP) will take forever. When UPND comes into office, there will be a lot of pain that we have to go through because the damage is huge. If we don’t effect change in 2021, the situation will get worse. In that Economic Plan for the PF, there is nothing for me to talk about, it is an empty plan. There is no political will to implement anything in there because the actions are totally different from what they are writing in black white, it’s a donchi kubeba. When UPND comes into office, we will have to dismantle the debt,” Hichilema said.

“Under the PF, it will be strenuous, it will be more hunger because there is just no leadership. That lack of leadership is demonstrated by situations you saw on ‘Black Wednesday’ where Nsama Nsama, Joseph Kaunda, were brutally murdered, execution-style. Under the PF, because there is no leadership and no understanding of the economy, it will be big trouble. My predictions have been right, that the debt mountain will be there, that the economy will collapse, that there will be no jobs, there are no jobs. Under the PF, there is no planning, there is no love for the people, all there is, is murderous behaviour. I can say to you the first part of 2021 is pain!”

He maintained that the PF had no capacity to dismantle the country’s huge debt stock, which was crippling the economy.

“We have a plan to dismantle the debt because it is crippling revenues. You can’t expect the PF to dismantle the debt because they did not listen to us. We told them, ‘don’t borrow,’ they continued borrowing; ‘don’t borrow at a high cost…’ They continued doing that. ‘Don’t borrow for consumption,’ they have continued doing that. The answer is in the reverse to what PF has done. This UPND party has a plan to dismantle the debt so that we can save revenues from debt servicing. A moratorium on debt, no new debt because we don’t want to add more injury to the wound. You can’t continue borrowing and the people who think like that are wrong. First, you have no capacity to borrow,” Hichilema added.

“In the old days, before flush toilets came, there used to be chembas (potties), you go in the bedroom to sleep, you get a chemba. When it is full, you can’t put more urine there. The idea of having a chemba is to keep the urine contained and then tomorrow morning, you throw it outside. If you urinate in a chemba, which is full, the urine will spill in the house, you have messed up the house. That is what PF has done to our country. We can’t still continue urinating in a chemba, which is full already. So, (place a) moratorium on borrowing, I insist! That borrowing, which is over-shot, we restructure, how do we restructure it? We basically renegotiate. We have basically reached out to the lenders, a lot of them, because PF has no credibility. Even before we are in government, we are already talking to lenders.”

And Hichilema reiterated that he was ready to dialogue with President Lungu to stop the extra-judicial killings, which had sharply risen in recent years.

He also insisted that it was irresponsible to blame him for the shooting of Nsama Nsama and Joseph Kaunda because he was a victim in the matter.

“We have not forgotten about Frank Mugala, we have not forgotten about Vespers. Was I there at Vesper’s room when she was killed by the PF government, police? Was I there when Mugala was murdered? Was Hakainde there taking cadres the way the man you are talking about is accusing me? That is irresponsible behaviour, statements from that gentleman (President Lungu). Why doesn’t he complain about (Ronald) Chitotela, about Chilufya Chitalu (Health Minister), who filled the Magistrates’ Court with cadres? Did he issue a Tweet? Why did he not issue a Tweet? Come on, take leadership! You are failing to provide leadership in this country,” he lamented.

“Stop the blame game! There must be a sense of shame to what happened, even a call to me to say, ‘HH, I am sorry about what happened on the ‘Black Wednesday,’ what do I get? It is a Tweet accusing a victim of being the one to blame. That is a lack of leadership. We are victims of execution-style matters. We are victims! We are victims of a killing machine in the name of the PF government. We need leadership here, the Church has called for dialogue, can we dialogue so that we can protect people from dying unnecessarily and we can also have a free and fair election?”

Meanwhile, Hichilema expressed shock that the PF had politicised some of the COVID-19 donations he, among other stakeholders, had made.

“COVID-19 has been used to suppress democratic space when the open democratic space for their friends in PF and surrogates. Ultimately, they are risking the lives of people, who are caught along the way. This second wave, if we are not careful, will knock out a lot of people! You can also see in the funding, donations are being used. A number of us made donations at the beginning of this affliction, but we have noted that the donations were being abused. They are actually used, now, as political donations. The misuse of COVID donations is by those in public office, who are they? The PF,” said Hichilema.