Editor's Comment

HH should understand basic diplomacy

UPND president Hakainde Hichilema (middle) arrives at Woodlands Police station yesterday. PICTURE: CHANDA MWENYA

IT IS becoming very difficult to understand the political direction – if any – of United Party for National Development (UPND) leader Hakainde Hichilema.
The latest loss to President Edgar Lungu has seemingly left him disillusioned and traumatised to the extent that he has almost lost sense of reasonable direction.
Mr Hichilema and indeed any opposition leader should not concentrate on State House as the ultimate of their careers.
Politicians are supposed to be guided by the desire to serve in any capacity, and going to State House should be a decision made not by themselves but the majority Zambians.
Zambia is a democracy and its leaders are elected starting from the grassroots up to the president of a political party who leads his party into elections where voters from all walks choose amongst the candidates who should be in charge of national affairs.
The Zambian population comprises diverse voters drawn from 10 regions. Their interests are therefore different and their decisions are based on their preferences at that particular time.
Six times, the UPND has competed to form government without success, and Mr Hichilema accounts for five of those flops, within 15 years. The UPND, under Mr Hichilema, has lost five times in the last 10 years.
However, the UPND has taken the 2016 loss bitterly that even after the Constitutional Court ruled in favour of President Lungu, the opposition party has continued patronising the courts.
But while seeking justice through the courts is the entitlement of the UPND, it is pronouncements and actions coming from the top hierarchy which are worrying the country.
First, their MPs boycotted the ceremonial opening of Parliament, then last week, a directive was given to legislators to boycott government functions.
As if that is not enough, Mr Hichilema has not only refused to recognise the election victory of President Lungu but has been very critical of him to a point of blatantly abusing his freedom of speech.
He alleged in a tabloid that Zambia has no leader because of President Lungu’s recent international trips. His view – obviously seen through an uninformed and myopic lens – is that President Lungu should always be at State House.
We know Mr Hichilema should politick but not to the extent of displaying high levels on basic international diplomacy.
That is why Minister of Foreign Affairs Harry Kalaba rightly observed that Mr Hichilema is failing to comprehend that modern day governing requires heads of State to travel and interact with their counterparts to address challenges in their respective countries.
Mr Kalaba said on Sunday that all the foreign trips that President Lungu has made have current or future benefits for the country.
The minister said Mr Hichilema should know from his vast business experience and enterprise that when Zambia’s major export commodity is suffering because of stagnating or falling prices, it would be reckless for President Lungu to fold his arms and wait for a miracle in the walls of State House rather than venturing into the world to explore economic options to help confront the country’s current challenges.
Mr Kalaba said his ministry would like President Lungu to visit more countries such as Chile, a copper-producing country like us which is doing well, Indonesia, whose gross domestic product is growing at a fast rate, and Sweden, who have been giving Zambia a lot of funding, and a lot more other countries.
Mr Hichilema will do well to come out of denial and appreciate that investment can only come to Zambia if it is marketed to the maximum, and Zambia’s top diplomat is President Lungu.
Instead of investing his energy on attacking President Lungu, Mr Hichilema is better off preparing for the 2021 elections.
If he continues being betrayed by unrestrained envy and bitterness, as it has widely been known, State House ambitions will forever remain a pipedream.

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