Lungu can stop political violence – HH

By Staff Reporter

 

UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema says President Edgar Lungu can stop political violence in the country if he wanted to.

And Hichilema  said corrupt police officers should be punished as well as “big fish thieves” who are looting taxpayers’ money meant for ambulances, the yet-to-be constructed Lusaka – Ndola dual carriageway, fire engines and from public medical stores.

Featuring on the Prime TV’s Oxygen of Democracy programme on Monday evening,  Hichilema said President Lungu as Head of State and commander in chief of the armed forces would have stopped political violence if he had political will.

Commenting on Lusaka Province minister Bowman Lusambo’s act to ruin an illegal money-making strategy by four police officers collecting money from erring motorists along Mungwi road in Lusaka, Hichilema said: “when the leaders are corrupt like PF leaders are, even those in the lower ranks learn the lessons – they think corruption is normal.”

“Why punish only police officers? I understand what is going on! We must punish those who are stealing big from the Ndola – Lusaka highway, from the ambulances, from fertilisers, from the fire tenders. Those who are stealing drugs from public medical stores get away with it,” he said.

Hichilema said it was ironical that those mentioned in the 2017 Financial Intelligence Centre report were still free when their fraudulent dealings and theft had caused so much suffering to the citizenry.

“Those are the ones we must go for, they are the big fish,” he said.

On economic matters, the opposition leader wondered why the PF government opted to invest hugely in non productive facilities like the construction of the Copperbelt International Airport in Ndola and Kenneth Kaunda International Airport (KKIA) in Lusaka.

He argued that a modest facelift of the KKIA would suffice, while revamping the country’s productive sectors.

The government is constructing the Copperbelt International Airport at about US$397 million while the design and construction of the KKIA is being carried out by China Jiangxi Corporation at the cost of US$360 million.

“Before you think of the airport, the current runway (at KKIA) there is perfect. The volume of traffic planes following business is still slow, until we improve the business attractiveness in terms of tourism, investments in agriculture. By making tourism attractive, investing in agriculture, investing in mining, all these will create jobs but you then compare the volume of traffic attracted by your business in different sectors and that’s when you can say we need to have another runway. What you’ve seen at the airport is not an improvement in the runway [but] what you are seeing there is a luxurious part which is the terminal building. So, before you think of putting over $300 million to build an airport in Ndola where industries have died, you must match the investment in the airport with the business where you are going,” Hichilema explained.

 

“You don’t have to show off to anybody. The show off is unnecessary; it’s what is called a fool’s paradise where you over-invest when you have not done your home work in the sectors that will attract tourists to come to your country. When you have matched these things properly, you will see that you need to make modest investments in your airports and make huge investments in your agriculture, in your tourism, mining and manufacturing.”

 

He added that an international airport was a supportive secondary facility in a country.

“The primary facilities are the ones the PF government is failing to improve. You put close to half a billion dollars of an airport but you have not dealt with the attractiveness of the tourism sector, who do you think will come in? To come and do what? To come and admire your half a billion dollars airport? That is wasted money! That is lack of prudence,” Hichilema said.

“Why is Botswana having a modest airport and the Botswana economy is doing better than Zambia? They understand what comes first. In this country under PF, there is haphazardness – there is lack of connecting things. That is why you see people priding themselves that they’ve built huge airports. Those are white elephants!”

And Hichilema underscored that it was “absolutely normal” for people who were in one environment to greet each other.

He was responding to the programme’s host, Kalani Muchima, who asked why he did not greet President Lungu at Mwanawasa’ 10th memorial Church service.

“Yesterday (on Sunday) what happened was that my team and I arrived early at the Anglican Cathedral and we were seated [at] the far left corner, if you are facing the Church east, as we were. My colleague (President Lungu) came in much later and was seated in the right hand corner and the programme started, in earnest. In my view, it was circumstantial that maybe it was difficult to say hello to each other, although the opportunity was there,” noted Hichilema.

“For me, when I had the opportunity to do it in Choma at the late, Munkombwe’s funeral, I walked over and greeted my colleague. I did that as a natural reaction, not that I planned to do it but because you greet people – that’s what normal, decent human beings do. But yesterday it didn’t happen, for whatever reason. So, the contextual issue I’m raising here…. yesterday it didn’t happen, it would have been nice if it happened.”