President Hakainde Hichilema has faced criticism following a press conference where his ability to address challenges in the mining sector came into question. The opposition and concerned citizens expressed their disappointment, highlighting several areas where they felt the president’s response was inadequate.
Eric Chanda, President of Chachacha, accused President Hichilema of running out of ideas and labeled the government’s handling of the mining sector as “economic sabotage.” Chanda pointed out the urgency of the situation, emphasizing that the people on the Copperbelt were suffering without jobs and the Zambian economy was in desperate need of financial stability.
One of the major concerns raised was the impasse surrounding the Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) and Mopani Copper Mines. Critics argued that President Hichilema did not provide satisfactory solutions to address these issues. Furthermore, there were questions about the government’s approach to China, a key player in Zambia’s debt restructuring program.
Another area of contention was the perceived incompetence at the Ministry of Agriculture. Many critics expected decisive action from the president to prevent a repeat of the maize shortage that led to skyrocketing mealie meal prices. The shortage of medicines in hospitals and measures taken to ensure a steady supply chain also remained unaddressed.
Critics further accused law enforcement agencies of professional misconduct, disregarding the rule of law with impunity. They expressed concern over the denial of police bonds, infringement on people’s constitutional rights, and the seizure of assets and accounts before investigations are concluded. Additionally, the issue of non-payment to suppliers and contractors raised alarm among the public.
The opposition and concerned citizens also raised questions about the diplomatic shift of cadrelism from markets and bus stations to the civil service space, as well as the alleged heavy-handedness of the police when dealing with opposition parties.
Employment opportunities, especially for youths and women, amidst a high cost of living, were among the concerns brought to light during the press conference. Critics also demanded answers regarding steps taken by the government to curb the rising cost of fuel, electricity tariffs, fertilizers, and mealie meal prices. The stagnant salaries of civil servants in the face of a high cost of living were also criticized, as it was believed to contribute to corruption within the public sector.
Furthermore, the president faced inquiries about the government’s plans to empower and employ cadres who were chased from markets and bus stations, aiming to prevent an increase in criminal activities and civil disobedience. The government’s position on rampant illegal mining activities in central and Luapula provinces, where minerals worth millions of dollars seemingly vanished, also remained unclear.
President Hichilema’s press conference failed to provide satisfactory answers to these pressing issues, leaving many critics disappointed and concerned about the government’s ability to address the challenges facing the nation.