Green Party President Green Sinkamba, FDD’s Edith Nawakwi and Hakainde Hichilema of the UPND were the stand out performers at Thursday evening’s final presidential debate.
The debate which was broadcast live on Muvi TV and across 16 other radio stations dotted around the country was held at the Mulungushi International Conference Centre in Lusaka.
Out of the nine candidates contesting next Thursday’s election, five candidates turned up and used the debate to explain to the nation their respective visions and plans for the country.
PF candidate and incumbent Head of State Edgar Lungu shunned the event while UNIP’s Tilyenji Kaunda said he was caught up in campaigns and People’s Alliance for Change candidate Andyford Banda and Democratic Alliance’s Maxwell Mwamba opted out.
But the evening clearly belonged to Green Party candidate Peter Sinkamba, Edith Nawakwi of the FDD and UPND’s Hakainde Hichilema who took the advantage and delivered strong statements on how they will transform the country.
Rainbow Party candidate Wynter Kabimba and United Progressive Party President Dr Savior Chishimba also featured and spoke passionately about empowering local people through socialism and the transformation of councils into counties respectively.
Moderated by Muvi TV’s Costa Mwansa, the candidates were asked specific themed questions around agriculture, energy, jobs, governance, economy and water and sanitation and a general question on why the thought they were the best to lead Zambia.
On agriculture, the Green Party’s marijuana agenda and the manner of Mr Sinkamba’s delivery kept a fully packed audience cheering as he kept making a case on why Zambia should abandon its over dependence on Maize and adopt high value crops such as Marijuana.
“Zambia just needs only 500 Metric Tons of Maize for eating, we don’t need to finance the 3M Metric Tons of Maize, we are wasting people’s time and money. This nonsense of Maize has to stop, small scale farmers have been doing Maize for years and they are still in poverty. Let’s abandon this and adopt marijuana farming for medicinal purposes,” Mr Sinkamba said as the audience cheered.
He added. “If you want to be rich, vote for Green Party, I am the only one who has come with a bag of US36 billion. This is the money we will realise from the marijuana crop which we will use to develop the country. The US$5 billion we make each year from mining should be petty cash.”
Mr Sinkamba said the biggest problem facing Zambia today is that the country is broke and cannot finance its own develop.
FDD’s Edith Nawakwi said the country’s over dependence on copper has hindered development saying voting for the FDD will mean totally transform on how development is delivered.
On the rule of law, Mrs Nawakwi said the current constitution vested too much powers in the Office of the President which makes even good people corrupt once they step into State House.
“How many times have we heard the President wake up one morning and shout that he will put a road here and there with no regard to planning and the fiscal situation, he is doing that because the constitution gives him such powers, under the FDD when we form government next week, that will change,” Mrs Nawakwi said.
“Our constitution is so bad that even If Jesus came down on this earth today, with the current constitution, he will be corrupt in two hours. It doesn’t matter how many anti-corruption buildings you put up, an over centralised system will have loopholes” she said.
UPND’s Hakainde Hichilema used the occasion to address insinuations that he benefitted from the privatisation of state owned companies under the MMD government and stated that the story of having personally benefited from the privatisation exercise was a broken record.
Mr Hichilema who spoke at lengths on how the UPND’s 10-point plan touches on key development challenges facing Zambia said the country is where it is today because of voting for people with no vision.
“It appears Zambians have become accustomed to low levels of service delivery and such their expectations have come down. You need a clear plan and vision, that is what the UPND is offering and that is what distinguishes us,” Mr Hichilema said.
Mr Hichilema reiterated that it is worrying that some Zambians sometimes underplay the importance of skills in running public affairs.
“If your child is sick you take the child to the doctor, if your car is broken, you take your car to the garage and if your economy is broken, you take it to an Economic Manager to have it fixed,” he said.
But Mrs Nawakwi responded in a clear low blow that, “If your car is broken and you take it to the mechanic, sometimes the mechanic might not have the right spare parts.”
UPPD’s Savior Chishimba promised to disband statutory bodies such as the Road Development Agency saying the RDA is now a nursery for corruption.
“We will disband these structures that just make it easier to breed corruption. RDA will go, FRA will be replaced with the Crop Marketing Authority whose role will be simply to buy the crop for strategic purpose,” he said.
One of the biggest statements from Rainbow Party President Wynter Kabimba was that under the Rainbow administration, Ministers will not be allowed to receive presents because that’s nursery and fertilizer of corruption.