Saturday, June 14, 2008

Sata is compromised, says Hichilema

Sata is compromised, says Hichilema
By Chibaula Silwamba
Saturday June 14, 2008 [04:00]

UPND president Hakainde Hichilema yesterday said some people that have been flown to South Africa for medical treatment by the government have been compromised. And Hichilema said Zimbabwean authorities must not shift their problems to Zambia by attacking President Levy Mwanawasa. Speaking on Radio Phoenix’s Let the People Talk programme in Lusaka, Hichilema said specialist treatment abroad was given to people selectively and those who received it ended up being compromised.

He said there was need to use public funds to purchase modern medical equipment in Zambia so that every Zambian could have access to those services.

"How many people can be flown to South Africa when they are terminally ill? Or there is basically a tragedy? How many people? Very few! You fly Hakainde to South Africa when he is ill, what about five million Zambians that are not in Hakainde's situation. They will just die and indeed they are dying every day," Hichilema said.

And in an apparent reference to Patriotic Front president Michael Sata, Hichilema said: "We need to bring the capacity here so that we can afford many Zambians an opportunity to be given emergency treatment, those that cannot be flown. At the moment it's a select few and those select few, I think along the way get compromised as we have seen it ourselves and that is what we want to change."

Hichilema described the reconciliation between Sata and President Mwanawasa as circumstantial.

"We welcome those that have now realised, though late in the day. I am sure you remember one of the politicians used to laugh at two other politicians. One of them; when late UPND president Anderson Mazoka fell ill, may his soul rest in peace, one politician was laughing at Mr Mazoka, ridiculing Mr Mazoka, making jokes about Mr Mazoka that his trousers are dropping. I think Zambians remember that," Hichilema said.

"When President Mwanawasa was ill, the same politician was calling for a presidential by-election and calling people vegetables or all that stuff; even producing them in the mouth I feel ashamed of. Now this politician fell ill.

He realised, 'ooh! Being ill is an act which is beyond one's control, you don't have to say the trousers of the late Mazoka were dropping, you don't have to agitate for a presidential by-election because illness can take anybody."

Hichilema said that was how some characters were because they mature late.
"I called the reconciliation circumstantial because of what I have explained, because this individual Sata used to ridicule his colleagues and unfortunately some Zambians were clapping and praising him when he was doing that.

I found that ridiculous, I couldn't understand how a population could clap when someone ridicules other people like that, but thank God this politician is alive and we wish him the best," Hichilema said."

On the verbal attacks between the Zimbabwean and Zambian governments, Hichilema said the problems in Zimbabwe were because that country's President Robert Mugabe had overstayed.

"The Zimbabwe case is a sorry case. It is typical of an African leader who does not want to leave office. Simple as that, that's what it is. We are yet running away from a fundamental problem to peripheral issues to creating a crisis of diplomatic relationship between Zambia and Zimbabwe," Hichilema said.

"I want to say President Mwanawasa is not wrong. President Mwanawasa is right in what he is doing. In our view, he should have done more as chairman of SADC but we don't want the Zimbabwean authorities to start attacking President Mwanawasa on this matter because that is wrong."

He said the Zimbabwean authorities should know that the problems were in their country and not Zambia, hence they should not shift their problems.

"To start shifting the problem from Zimbabwe to Zambia is failing to pin down the real problem; it's failing to have precision. In Zimbabwe, we must have precision and pin down the... he Mugabe is the old order who is refusing to leave office.

That is the problem in Zimbabwe and it must not be shifted to Zambia. Absolutely not, and we refuse because that is not correct and not the way to do things because if we did that, we will be failing to deal with the problem," Hichilema said.

He observed that the local government, parliamentary and presidential elections were held on the same day in Zimbabwe but it was strange that presidential results took longer to be announced.

"Why were the presidential results delayed for over a month?" he asked. "Of course they were cooking the results, no question about that."

Hichilema said the current brutality against opposition supporters in Zimbabwe ahead of the presidential runoff elections was unacceptable.

"What is happening in Zimbabwe is wrong and we must not support it and Zimbabwe must not shift their difficulties which they have inflicted on themselves by failing to accept that Mugabe has overstayed and the old man needs to move on," Hichilema said. "MDC presidential candidate Morgan Tsvangirai, please if you win that election don't persecute Mugabe, look after Mugabe."

Hichilema said UPND believed that it was important to look after former leaders and not to persecute them.

On the local front, Hichilema said there was need to properly utilise public resources for the benefit of all Zambians. He said there was need for visionary leadership, good management and good approach to managing public resources. He urged the government to ensure that mining companies paid taxes based on the new mining tax regime.

"We are talking about sharing the returns from that endowment of wealth, in this case, minerals. It's not yet happening so the first point we are making is that we are in support of the increase in mineral royalties unlike those who change like a chameleon.

Today they say they agree, tomorrow they disagree; I can't blame them. I think sometimes people don't understand what they agree with but when you understand what you agree with, as we do in the UPND, there is no reversal," Hichilema said. "Number two, the expectation is that there must be more money coming through but we hear already that the government is getting reluctant to ensure compliance which means to collect the amounts due because the MMD government was not sure whether they were to implement a new tax regime in the mining sector. I think they felt incumbent, they also, I think, were maybe not sure how to tackle the issue and it is clear the way they tackled the issue it was a bit haphazard. They only did it after there was public pressure not that they were convinced.

"This is what is haunting them now because I am sure there are some people who are not happy with them and they are lobbying behind the scenes and unfortunately one opposition party ended up backtracking and that is not a good thing to do in leadership. You don't backtrack on a matter that you have thought through unless you didn't think through that issue."

Hichilema also said the fight against corruption should be done professionally as opposed to victimising opponents.

"Let me give you a tip of the iceberg, some of our businesses have been denied operating permits and licenses on account that Hakainde is now an opposition leader. That is immaturity, vindictiveness, fixing other people," Hichilema said.
He urged all Zambians to detest corruption.

"Corruption takes away opportunities to have books in schools, medicines in health institutions, farming inputs and many other things," he said.

Hichilema said it was unfortunate that some pupils were sitting on the floors, 44 years after independence.

He also said interest rates were still high for most Zambians and should be reduced. Hichilema called for improvement in roads, bridges and other infrastructure.

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