Zambia: Why is HH Still UPND Leader?

Published on 19th January 2017

Even the idiom “Once bitten, twice shy,” does not seem to stick to the United Party for National Development (UPND) party in Zambia when it comes to their eternal leader, Hakainde Hichilema (HH). This commentary is not written in anger, or with retribution, condemnation or in bad faith. It is given as noble advice in the interest of national and democratic advancement for Zambia. 

On September 28th, 2006 Hakainde Hichilema took third place with about 25% of the vote; he lost. In 2008 he came out third with 19.7% of the vote; he lost that election. He contested the 2011 election, he lost. He was one of the two main candidates in the January 2015 presidential election; he lost. He again stood in the August 2016 presidential election, and he again lost. 

He was defeated by Levy Mwanawasa once, by Michael Sata twice, and by Edgar Lungu twice. He has been the singular presidential candidate for the UPND for the solid ten years, and he has not graced anything more than party president.  

HH must resign and bequeath the party to a new and fresh candidate. There are obviously no excuses to why only one failed candidate should be fielded in a political party with viable intellectual muscles, leadership prowess and political experience. It goes to confirm the notion that Zambia is still reeling from the vagaries of the One Party State left by Kenneth Kaunda in which personality, and not principles, dictated the person at the top. That era of ignorance must end if Zambia is to see the bright of day and put an end to silent demagoguism. 

HH's continuance to run the UPND is inimical at three fronts. First, it is a bad precedent for the future. It ignites the feeling that the rule of men is more desirable than the rule of laws. In other words, are some men so ordained that it’s only them who should someday rule the country? HH is ill-positioned to win any presidential election in Zambia. President Lungu is likely to govern for the next five years, which will make HH the only UPND candidate for the presumptive 15 years! Why, are there no brains in the Zambian political ranks that can run?  

Second, with HH continuance, the UPND brand will be a fake. Unless another person rebrands the UPND, within five years, it may end up just like another UNIP or MMD, defunct and inadequate. It matters how HH winds up; he has been a political force unseen in the history of Zambia. He has made his contribution to the democratic and political process. Now it’s time to give up the leadership and raise another person to complete the mission. If he does not, he risks reducing to zero many of his political accomplishments as UPND leader. 

Third, HH’s continuance will continue to perpetuate the notion that UPND is a tribal party. How else can reasonable people conclude? My solicitation is not a construction of the idea that HH must resign the party to another tribal friend. It can be anyone from any tribe in Zambia, and preferably a non-Tonga. Then UPND will cement its legacy as a formidable party in Zambia. 

I can win a Zambian presidency at the very first strike. It cannot take a second try, or I resign and hand over to another. Not only that, within five years, I can accomplish the following: (1) Bring poverty to its end, totally; (2) Improve healthcare – raise life expectancy, reduce infant mortality rates and eliminate malaria and all curable diseases; (3) Quash corruption in all its ugly forms and institute a citizens’ agenda; (4) make Zambia a garden state of Africa; and (5) improve Zambia’s image abroad by 120%. 

Why is HH still UPND leader? Is it because there is a poverty of true leaders in Zambia? 

By Charles Mwewa

Charles M [[email protected]]

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