If the story of the boy who cried wolf reads like fiction, the reality is not far from what Zambians have been treated to since Hakainde Hichilema assumed the limelight as one of the country’s Opposition politicians.
During the campaign trail in Sesheke last week, Hichilema cried the loudest after his impromptu meeting on the roadside which was part of President Edgar Lungu’s route was dispersed.
He rushed to the international media and cried, “Lungu wants to kill me.” On February 20, 2019, Hichilema summoned the media at a grandiose press briefing at which he was flanked by opposition leaders of insignificant political parties.
Hichilema and his political alliance announced they were headed to the International Criminal Court (ICC) because, according to them, their lives were in danger. Particularly Hichilema’s life was in danger.
Since 2014, Hichilema has cried assassination. Infact, he has made such inflammatory statements more than the five times he has attempted the presidency and failed.
On April 15, 2014, Hichilema held a press briefing at which he claimed President Michael Sata attempted to assassinate him.
This followed an encounter with suspected ruling party cadres at Sun FM in Ndola. State House was prompted to react.
Then State House spokesperson George Chellah accused Hichilema of exaggerated outbursts alien to Zambian politics. ‘‘He doesn’t surprise Zambians and the President because assassination is not Zambian and his claims are laughable and extremely exaggerated.
“Mr Hichilema thrives on inflammatory remarks. He thinks he can improve his political party by provoking the Head of State,’’ Mr. Chellah remarked advising Hichilema to carry out a self-introspection and desist from preaching hatred.
The following year, Hichilema was back with his claim with former chief government spokesperson describing the UPND leader as a non-factor.
On October 2, 2015, Kambwili exonerated President Edgar Lungu saying he was not a heartless leader who would consider killing Hichilema.
Kambwili advised Hichilema to offer leadership qualities instead of resorting to cheap propaganda in his fresh assassination allegations.
Then on December 8, 2015, a website linked to Hichilema titled Kachema Kontolola detailed claims that the ruling party plotted to eliminate Hichilema.
“The PF are so determined to hold on to power by whatever means to a point where they care less if HH lives or die”.
“This revelation to kill HH has been exposed by Innocent “The Commando” Kalimanshi or Inno for short, who has been the leader of the PF thugs at Intercity and in charge of executing most of the violence we have been witnessing from the PF until yesterday when he was arrested on assault charges …”
It further went on to claim “The Assassination idea was planned by Mumbi Phiri and Kaizer Zulu to assassinate HH while he visited Mongu. But when Inno did not fully oblige to this, Mumbi and Kaizer were so enraged that they decided to dispose Inno off,” the Hichilema machinery reported.
On December 18, 2016, another UPND sponsored publication claimed a Zambia Police Commissioner Bothwell Namuswa had confessed to being assigned to assassinate Hichilema.
“We had a meeting at which we resolved to disrupt the court proceedings of the petition by provoking the UPND supporters at the courts. It’s was then decided and ordered by State House Special Assistant for Corruption Kaizer Zulu to fire a live bullet at the UPND President Hakainde Hichilema and kill him.”
“Kaiser Zulu was very clear that Lungu thought Mr. Hichilema had a strong case that can nullify the presidency and the only way to stop him was by killing him with a live bullet through causing confusion,” Namuswa, according to the Zambian Observer, told his family members.
In 2017, Hichilema’s wife, Mrs Mutinta Hichilema, joined the bandwagon narrating in an interview how her husband was nearly assassinated.
“They never came to arrest Hakainde here, they came to kill and they are still determined to kill my husband. Anyway my God is watching. The same God that saved my husband that night is the same God who is going to save him even now,” Mutinta told journalists.
And most recently, Hichilema is back with the tired claim which he now uses as the basis to report Zambian leader to the ICC.
Evidently the amount of times Hichilema and his cohorts have cried assassination exposes their attention seeking type of politics much like a fiction boy who cried wolf that never was. Yet such tricks had the potential to undermine the democratic tenets of Zambia if tolerated.
Unfortunately, the more Zambia gets better; the more Hakainde gets bitter.
The author is Patriotic Front Media Director At the Patriotic Front Secretariat Lusaka