UPND president Hakainde Hichilema says rigging will not work because the country is on the verge of making history.
And Hichilema says President Edgar Lungu’s continued threats to arrest him are a sign that there is no leadership in the PF government.
Speaking during a press briefing, Wednesday, Hichilema said the country was on the verge of making history by effecting a peaceful transition from one party to another.
“Let us all exercise good leadership, we need good leadership now more than ever before. Church leadership has been very good in this country, we hope to see that continuing, guiding our society. International community leadership, domestic regional community, SADC, Africa Union, UN, Commonwealth, we call for your leadership tomorrow and the day after to ensure that we have a peaceful Zambia and a peaceful transition. It is coming, transition is coming,” Hichilema said.
“The country is on the verge of making history as we did in 1991, as we did in 2011. In 2021 we can make history and we can have a third transition, a peaceful transition from one party to another. That requires a lot of effort from all of us so that we can address the food shortages we talked about, to make our people have decent meals, to send our children back to school. A prudent economic management is awaiting debt management because it is choking our economic efforts currently. After Monday, we expect that there will be strong economic management requirements focusing on revenue generation and less on consumption expenditure. That means reigning in on corruption so that we can create opportunities for all our people. In an environment like that, Zambians decided, rigging will not work tomorrow, it will not work! To maintain stability, rigging will not work. Rigging will and should not work tomorrow.”
Hichilema said he expected the result management system to remain open and transparent.
He insisted that Zambians were yearning for change.
“What is critical for me to say here is that we do not wish to see tomorrow’s elections as the ballot opens, the voting takes place, the polling station closes, the separation of votes starts, counting starts, [like] the situation in 2016. We expect credibility, openness throughout the process. There must be no hidden activity at all because these activities are for the people of Zambia. Elections are supposed to be an open book agenda. Ultimately, we want this election to be decided by the Zambian people, not those who count votes. So, in essence, we expect the result management system throughout the processes to remain open and transparent,” Hichilema said.
“Zambians are yearning for change, every Zambian knows that. So let the Zambians decide who leads them, to take them out of this collapsed economy and social fabric. We call upon our men and women in uniform who are given this rare task to ensure that they will support their fellow brothers and sisters to go and vote in a happy environment, in a non-threatening environment. In an environment where no voter should feel intimidated to go vote. Actually, voters should feel safer to go and vote. I have said before that no citizen should act outside the constitution, no citizen should act outside the law in order to aid a political party.”
And Hichilema said President Lungu’s continued threats of having him arrested was a sign that there was no leadership in the PF.
“Of late we have seen our opponents going out on an attack route, abusive route, threatening to arrest HH and others. That he will be arrested after elections, that we have committed a crime, I am not sure which crime. But this is not the environment to talk about arresting each other when you are going into an election tomorrow. This is an environment [to talk about] what we shall do to improve the lives of our people. For the colleague who keeps talking about arresting other people, that is not leadership. That is not what we go to do in public offices. We flip the views ourselves that we would like to arrest poverty as opposed to arresting citizens who have committed no crime,” he said.
“We want to focus on creating, rebuilding the economy so that we can look after the sick, the weak, the retired, and their benefits paid. So as the miners, where my colleagues were speaking from trying to excite miners that HH will not respect terminal benefits. Our message is very simple, we want to make sure that the miners’ terminal benefits are not paid in small quantities, they are paid in a lump sum, all of them at once to allow the miners to start a new life. That is what we are threatening to arrest.”
Hichilema further refuted President Lungu’s accusations that he was asking for US$300,000 from Vedanta and promising to give them back KCM once elected.
“To anybody, I challenge him where he got that information, that is falsehood. We don’t do business like that, we understand business. So, we never promised Vedanta the restoration of KCM, never ever before. What we want in the mines is recapitalisation, what we want in the mines is a stable environment, policies that are predictable. After Monday we would like to see Zambians involved in the mining sector,” he said.
“The situation in the mines is deplorable, because of frequent changes in the fiscal regime, the mining policies, taxes, VAT rule 18. It is not the UPND Alliance that came with VAT rule 18 where you collect money from mining houses and other businesses on the understanding that when they submit their returns to the tax authority, you will rebase them, what you had collected. To this day this government owes mining houses close to $1 billion of non-refunds under VAT rule 18. That will be a thing of the past, we will not take money away from businesses. KCM has been destroyed over time.”
Meanwhile, Hichilema called on President Lungu to dialogue with him.
He added that the UPND had the support base to effect change.
“So, making noise on the Copperbelt and claiming things that do not exist, is a confirmation that this leadership of the PF has failed to run this country. Zambians exercise your right to vote and bring in a leadership that will better your lives tomorrow. Nothing should stand in your way. I challenge my colleague, come to the table, let us chat. This is a time he and I should be chatting to each other to stabilize this country. Let us talk colleague for the greater good of this country. I clarify what was said on the Copperbelt that it was non-existent. It is a failure of leadership that led to the collapse of mines,” said Hichilema.
“Do not allow anyone to steal your votes tomorrow, protect it. You allow your vote to be stolen, you have sold your children, you have consigned yourself to more hunger. That is why earlier I talked about the institutions which should also assist in ensuring that the decisions are made by voters, not by those who count. That is why it is a team effort. I have confidence, the ingredients are there, the support base is there, it is visible, it was fearful for a while, in the last one month it has just exploded. We come in office; we leave office when the time comes. Now is the time for people to leave office and others to come in, it is time for change.”