Our fellow citizens who support the United Party for National Development don’t like it when we shine a spotlight on the weaknesses of their president Hakainde Hichilema, vice-president Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba or indeed the party in general.
When we expose President Edgar Lungu’s corruption and dictatorship, they become very excited and even take it upon themselves to circulate our opinions to the masses beyond our reach. They tell us that we are among the best private media outfits because we can fearlessly criticize the Head of State, but the moment we turn the spotlight on them, we become their worst enemies.
Unfortunately, the journalism that the UPND would like us to practice is not our portion. If Mr Hichilema was participating in a brewing competition for chibwantu, we wouldn’t bother; if he was seeking to become a headman, we would fold our arms and let the subject in his village deal with his leadership weakness. But Considering that the UPND president is the most likely alternative leader of this country as things stand today, we feel duty bound to prepare the minds of the Zambian people that this man who is promising to come in and “fix it”, may not be what he claims to be.
Zambia has been ravaged by blatant theft of public resources among the top government leaders. Citizens are completely disgusted, desperate to get rid of the current regime. Unknown to them, the leader they are considering as a replacement is playing double standards. His fight against corruption is selective and he is not sophisticated enough to hide his interests.
Early last month, our newspaper revealed that President Lungu was planning to develop a multi-million-dollar property in Swaziland, and it came to pass that the land in question was given to him by a construction company called Inyatsi, under the guise of a presidential gift from King Mswati. What followed were embarrassing and contradicting statements from State House as well as the Ministry of Information.
It’s almost a month now but we have not heard Mr Hichilema comment on this matter. In fact, he commented, but quickly withdrew his position after realizing that this corruption scandal involved people who are close to him and his businesses.
“Can Lungu tell us how much he has stolen to even start building mansions in foreign countries like Swaziland, our people are suffering and this guy is busy building houses for himself in foreign countries. Lungu is a gluttony and his glutinous behaviour really scares us because if this guy is left in there with his corrupt associates, this country will remain a shell,” stated Hichilema in a statement sent to us.
“I watched his Minister of Information trying to justify that corruption as a gift, gift for what, under what obligation? Isn’t getting gifts tantamount to bribes and corruption in terms of a public workers employed by Zambians? Lungu is a thief chapwa, nothing more, nothing less! But we will stop his unwarranted stealing once in State House. We will turn all those mansions he is building for himself in foreign countries, into Zambia’s embassies, mark my words.”
Or perhaps his media team wrote this statement without his approval and he ordered them to recall it after learning that they had already sent it to our newsroom. His press aide told us that new information had come up and the UPND was going to issue a much stronger statement on the matter. That is how the opposition party withdrew the statement and closed the chapter on the scandal.
We became inquisitive, and so after a week of silence from the UPND, we picked the phone to directly ask Mr Hichilema for his position on the gift that President Lungu received from Inyatsi Construction. His response was heartbreaking, coming from a man who says he will fight corruption better than PF.
Mr Hichilema said he did not want to comment on the controversial gift because he believed Zambians needed to focus on the “bigger picture”.
“I think we have decided to basically focus on the issues of corruption affecting the government and who is perpetrating this corruption, which is the PF. I think that’s where our focus should be because we can just end up attacking just anyone and everybody across but who is taking corruption to those people? It is the PF leadership; it is Mr Lungu and his team. I think that’s where our focus should be. Instead of hunting people all over the world, we know for example they are buying houses in Dubai, should we focus on who is selling them houses? We should focus on who is stealing our money to go and buy those houses,” said Mr Hichilema.
So, according to Mr Hichilema, if there is corruption in the eSwatini land gift, that corruption involves one man only, and that man is President Lungu. In Mr Hichilema’s eyes, the King of eSwatini who handed the gift is innocent; the CEO of Inyatsi Construction Mr Michelo Shakantu whose company owned the land is also innocent, only President Lungu is guilty.
Uuuumh!! Aisha, inokayi? Tell the people of Zambia what your connection is to Inyatsi and Mr Shakantu. As far as we are concerned, one person cannot commit an act of corruption, so if you say President Lungu was involved in corruption on this matter, who corrupted him? That is the bigger picture Mr Hichilema must focus on.
Like we have said several times before, Zambians are very observant, but not stupid. They have noticed the silence from Mr HH on this scandal and they want to know why the so-called president in waiting, who claims to be free of corruption, is being selective in his fight.
We are not surprised with this predicament that Mr Hichilema finds himself in. This is one politician who has vast investments in this country and abroad. Some of his business associates are corrupt and crooked, and as such, his hands are tied. This eSwatini land gift has simply exposed Mr Hichilema’s link to corruption.
We need to warn the people of Zambia not to be fooled by the “bigger picture” that the UPND leader is trying to divert attention to. The truth of the matter here is that Mr Hichilema is not as clean as he claims to be when it comes to corruption. We can’t stop voters from electing this man, but we are here to assure them that when Mr Hichilema goes to State House, he will choose which corruption to fight and which one to dodge.
This eSwatini land gift to President Lungu is a tricky one for Mr Hichilema. Like a mosquito preying on the genitalia, you can’t slap it without hurting yourself. So he is simply praying that the scandal goes away without touching it.