PRESIDENT-ELECT Hakainde Hichilema says he will raise the standard of transforming the country so high that his successor will have to work harder in order to convince Zambians to give them a chance.
And Hichilema says the UPND Alliance will strive to restore national unity, celebrate ethnic diversity and bring an end to the lawlessness which characterised the PF government.
Meanwhile, Hichilema has told President Edgar Lungu not to worry, assuring him that “you will be okay”.
Speaking at a media briefing, Monday, Hichilema thanked President Lungu for conceding defeat and allowing for a smooth transition.
He further assured Zambians that when time comes for him to leave office, he would graciously do so because the third term pursuit was not in his agenda.
“A number of the contesting candidates have conceded defeat and congratulated us for winning this election. And this win is for you as well. This acknowledgement of our victory to serve is humbling. A few minutes ago, this list of gracious competitors in the presidential race added on another colleague who was slow, I am sure he had his own reasons, President Edgar Chagwa Lungu. I want to thank you sir for your message of conceding defeat and for indicating that you will support a smooth transition of servant leadership,” Hichilema said.
“I think it is the barest minimum for someone who occupies public office as you exit, you facilitate the new entrants to continue serving the country and its people where you left it. And I want to assure the people of Zambia in advance [that] when our time to leave comes, we will graciously leave. We will support the incoming team then, but for you to be an incoming team you better work hard because we are going to raise the standards. I encourage you to work harder because this team has not come to celebrate but to work. That is the value I bring to public office, hard work.”
Hichilema said the UPND Alliance would demonstrate inclusiveness which would be reflected in the soon-to-be-appointed cabinet.
“With the elections behind us, let us come together as Zambians as a family. We have an opportunity to sing the old song and return to what we knew when some of us were growing up, One Zambia, One Nation. This is not a matter of playing with words. This we should translate in everything we do, in all the things that we will work on to truly walk this phraseology of One Zambia, One Nation. We want to demonstrate that we will walk the talk starting with the cabinet. The cabinet will represent this country. You will see that and you will make your own judgement. We send a signal that that phraseology we will live it just a few days from now. Start marking the script of what we have been saying in terms of reuniting this country. I can assure you in advance, we will get a high mark grade,” he said.
Hichilema added that the UPND Alliance would strive to restore national unity and embrace ethnic diversity.
“On that score, I wish to confirm that I and our team will be a President for me and will be servants for all of our citizens across the 10 provinces of the country. It does not matter how you look by colour, height, features, it will not matter. Under this administration, it will not matter who your mother or father is because we never made that decision. You will be an equal citizen of this beloved country called Zambia. After five years, take your toll and see how we had walked the talk. I think we will pass with flying colours. For those that voted for us and for those that did not, you will be treated equally and fairly,” he stated.
“We will run this country without preference for any group over another. We will govern without collectivism. We will serve knowing that all citizens to us are identical twins. It will not matter what your name is, surname for you to rise in the civil service. What will matter is you being a citizen of Zambia and competent. Feel safe that no one will retire you in national interest yet it is under the guise of personal interest. I send a signal to my administration who will serve in cabinet and other portfolios that you are not coming to cabinet to marginalize citizens but to be a tool for inclusion and unity. There should be unity in diversity. 72 ethnic groups, all of them are gifts of God.”
The President-Elect said this was a time to move forward from partisanship elections.
“Now is the time to move forward from a partisanship election. To some people, the period of election evokes emotion. You understand some people said ethnic hate speech yet in their hometown, they lost to us who they demonized. Now is the time to forgive such people, for they did not know what they were doing. Now it is time for us to show the better side of life and perception of other humans. I guess if they are normal they will learn a lesson going forward that divisiveness will get you punished by the voters. I am very proud of the voters in Zambia. You have said no to ethnic divides. Against and orchestrated hate language, promoted by those who had the opportunity to reign in on such people, but did not, it only tells you a message that they actually sent them out to say those things against fellow citizens. That should not happen. UPND Alliance members, you are not about to replace those individuals from yourselves. Let us put the past behind us,” he said.
Meanwhile, Hichilema said the UPND Alliance did not tolerate lawlessness, stating that those engaged in damaging property must refrain from doing so.
“We are not about to take public office, replace those that have been violent against our people and only to start a new wave of violence. I have seen on social media some people damaging property, attacking citizens. I am aware that some of those citizens that are being attacked were the violent ones against us. I say it to you that if you want to show that you occupy a higher moral ground, even when you know who attacked you before, under this brutal regime which is exiting, do not attack them. Do not damage someone’s property. In the way we calculate national assets, it includes individual assets. So those are national assets in terms of property. None of you should damage anyone else’s property even when you know the owner abused you because if you do that, you are no different from those people,” he said.
“I want to believe we are different from those people and that is why Zambians have given us this huge mandate to correct those wrongs. Please do not cause violence out there. If you damage a shop, because the owner offended you, you are taking away someone’s job. In our manifesto, we are talking about creating jobs, so you are negating the very reason Zambians have voted for us. Follow my example, demonized, arrested 15 times. We are not going into office to arrest those who arrested us because then we are no different from them. I want to assure you that in a few days from now, there will be no bus stop you will fear to go to. I can assure you that there is no taxi rank that will be a no-go area for you. You can wear your PF t-shirt, any other party within markets and public places will be available for you and no one will touch you. No one will take away your right of freedom of assembly because of violence. You can go out and celebrate, hoot your car horns and tell them that there is a new dawn. Stability is coming.”
Hichilema stated that the fight against corruption in the UPND Alliance administration would not be used as a weapon to victimize others.
“The corruption fight has been absolutely misunderstood. We have no fear that the next government will prosecute us, that is why we should not prosecute the outgoing government. We have a zero-tolerance to corruption but this is not a political vindictive practice for vengeance or retribution, no. There are professional bodies or institutions that deal with that. The policy of the UPND is zero tolerance to corruption. The two must not be mixed. Under the UPND government, you are a Minister and you award yourselves tenders. I am sorry to the colleagues who want to be Ministers in this government, you give yourself a tender at a high price because there is an issue of future deals, we are not here for that. The corruption fight must be professional and it must not be used as a weapon to victimize others who were in office, including ordinary citizens. One of the things we will do is strengthen oversight institutions that are operationally independent, funded properly for investigations, fairly and professionally and the rest are processes,” he said.
Meanwhile, Hichilema told President Lungu not to worry because he would be okay.
“We will do that within the law. Third term is not part of our language. It should not be anyone’s language and Zambians had spoken about it. You lawyers must deal with those lacunas, no one should seek a third term. Zambians have spoken about this. Why should anyone dream that they should stay in office beyond the limit that the Zambians have decided? More than 10 years. What do you want to do beyond 10 years, which you could not do in 10 years? So thank you to President Edgar Lungu and do not worry sir, you will be okay,” said Hichilema.