By Sishuwa Sishuwa
Hakainde Hichilema stood in the queue to becoming President of Zambia for 15 years before voters finally removed him from it in August 2021. This demonstrates how badly the man wanted this job. But it has taken him only two years in office to display his unfitness for the role. When it comes to the bigger national issues, such as safeguarding our cherished democracy, getting the best out of Zambia’s mineral wealth, respecting the constitution and the rule of law, fighting corruption beyond rhetoric, genuine promotion of national unity and equitable distribution of appointments to public service positions, sorting out the cost-of-living crisis and the deplorable conditions of life for most Zambians, Hichilema has, so far, lamentably failed.
And if Zambians were to see the contents of the just signed Shareholder Agreement with Vedanta Resources Limited for the takeover of Konkola Copper Mines, many will be so livid that they will likely demand his immediate resignation for working against the interests of the Republic. I have seen, read, and understood the Agreement, and I challenge the Government to publish it in full in the name of transparency and accountability if they have nothing to hide. I am aware that Hichilema discarded the terms and conditions prepared by patriotic and very capable technocrats in the civil service and exerted pressure on the Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines-Investment Holdings (ZCCM-IH) to wholly accept the ones produced by Vedanta Resources. The concessions given to Vedanta – let us just say the concessions Vedanta has effectively given itself and which Hichilema agreed to without even subjecting the Shareholder Agreement to discussion in Cabinet – are so dreadful and anti-Zambia that any citizen who signs that terrible agreement must ordinarily be charged with SABOTAGE or TREASON. The contents of the Agreement with Vedanta constitute the ultimate betrayal of public trust and the interests of the State.
Argh! We are going nowhere serious with Hichilema at the helm of Zambia, unless he changes course, for the better. He has become a clear and present danger to Zambia’s economy, to our democracy, our constitutional order, our nationhood and its future, to the lives of ordinary Zambians, and must be peacefully removed from office at the earliest available opportunity. What consoles me is the knowledge that as of today, many people in Zambia may not know who they will vote for in the next election, but they already know who they will not vote for.
The best thing about electing Hichilema president was that we are no longer distracted by his threat or potential to be better than those who came before him and we can now start looking for suitable, if better, alternatives. If Hichilema did not become President of Zambia, we would have lived with some degree of guilty for not giving him the chance to govern. We could have also succumbed to certain narratives that suggest that some regions of Zambia can provide better leaders than others. To some extent, it is not regrettable that the man got the opportunity to lead. Now we know that in order to develop, Zambia does not need a given region or an individual from a particular ethnic group in State House. The country simply needs competent men and women who are patriots, have a feasible plan, and are committed to restoring the nation’s dignity, where they come from notwithstanding.
In a certain weird and perverted sense, it is good that Zambians gave Hichilema a chance to reveal who he truly is. The Chewa-speaking people of Zambia have a saying that “The best way of proving the potency of a man who claims that he is able to achieve an erection is for the woman to undress for him.” In August 2021, Zambians undressed for Hichilema after a decade-and-half of claiming that he is capable of taking them to greater heights!