UPND president Hakainde Hichilema says once elected, he will pick his Cabinet from all the 10 Provinces, regardless of the voting pattern in the August 2021 general election.

And Hichilema says now is not time to celebrate by drinking, but it is a time for the party to work hard to ensure that it forms government come August 12 this year.

In an interview, Hichilema said Zambia was in desperate need for a leader who was going to unite the country and end regionalism.

He said the country has been bleeding from seeds of division that the Patriotic Front has been sowing, adding that the UPND was coming to change the status quo.

“We are serious about rebuilding this country, and when we talk about rebuilding, we are talking about putting an end to the seeds of division that our brother in State House has been sowing. The appointment of permanent secretaries, all from just two regions, that is unacceptable, the appointment of Cabinet Ministers, all from the same regions; you can’t govern like that. When you are Republican President, you become a leader for all citizens regardless of where they come from. But our friends in PF are justifying that by insulting the people, telling them that State House cannot appoint people from certain regions because doing so can compromise quality in the public service. That is not only a divisive statement, but also an insult to the people,” he said.

“But we at UPND have demonstrated that we are not a regional party. Check the names of the people who were elected at the just ended convention, they are people from all the 10 provinces. And that is how the UPND Cabinet that we will appoint will look like. Our Cabinet will not allow segregation, we will make sure that all regions feel represented in Cabinet, and that is regardless of how the people of Zambia vote in August. We have met our obligations, I hope some parties can learn from what is done so that you don’t have a Cabinet table that leaves five, six provinces from a country you call one Zambia, one nation. On the UPND cabinet table, there will be Ministers from all the 10 provinces of Zambia. That is a commitment, that is how we are serious about reuniting this country. You can’t talk about national unity before you talk about unity in a family, before you talk about unity in the UPND,” Hichilema said.

Hichilema said it hurt to see how the country was being destroyed by the PF government.

“What we offer, our promise to you and the people of Zambia is focus, [and] work. I place high target levels for myself, that is my culture. What you expect from a village boy is focus, [and] work to deliver opportunities and a better life for all our citizens across the 10 provinces of this country. That is why we feel hurt when some people are destroying this country every single day. It truly hurts! This is a rich country, there is no need for anyone to go to bed without food,” Hichilema said.

“It hurts to see a school going girl child not in school. It hurts to see someone die of Coronavirus when they can be saved because there is no oxygen at the military hospital, at Levy, at UTH. Oxygen, really? Yet people are driving VXs. We must be clear in our minds why we are seeking public office. I feel ashamed when I travel around this country, when I present my passport ‘oh Zambian, you are from that country where people do things for themselves, not for the people’. Let us wash that shame on the 12th of August.”

And closing the UPND general conference, Tuesday, Hichilema said had delivered for democracy.

“UPND has delivered once again, delivered for democracy. This party has an obligation despite the brutality that we are faced with to maintain this nation as a democratic nation. You are all required to help in achieving that. You see the threats to our democracy, we know you are strong enough not to fall for that. There is no loser today through this process, there are only winners. This is only step one, the next step is to deliver this party into government and liberate the people of Zambia. This is just the step, work has just started, all of us, those who contested, those who will be placed in different roles from today and those who have assumed the national management roles, let me share my experience of running this party, immediately you are given a position like that, you must get worried, ‘how shall I deliver beyond the expectations?’ So, I don’t expect wines, champagnes out there, I expect reflection from this moment.