LIFE under the Patriotic Front (PF) Government has become increasingly unbearable for many poor Zambians who were promised more money in their pockets and time has come to reject their lies by voting the ruling party out of power, United Party for National Development (UPND) president Hakainde Hichilema has charged.
And all the traditional leaders in Southern Province have endorsed Mr Hichilema for the presidential election this month but have warned the opposition leader that they would campaign against him in 2016 if he failed to deliver to their expectation if elected president on January 20.
Mr Hichilema said it was unacceptable that Zambians should be struggling to have access to basic necessities in their lives in a country boasting of being endowed with natural riches.
He said the cost of living had more than trebled under the PF Government and that many Zambians were regretting having voted for the ruling party in 2011 and were more than ready to correct the mistake this month.
He said the removal of subsidies on maize and fuel without warning and lack of a strategy to maintain prices at affordable levels was the most careless and irresponsible act by any Government professing love and care for its citizens.
Mr Hichilema said the removal of subsidies on fuel quickly triggered the increase in food and transport costs apart from damaging local businesses.
He said it was lack of economic understanding on the part of the PF Government that while the global fuel prices had continued to fall by record 35 percent, Zambians had continued to pay astronomical costs of fuel while the local industry was suffering.
Mr Hichilema said Government had remained unclear how the money supposedly saved from the removal of subsidies on maize and fuel had been spent.
He stated that the PF Government had built an unmanageable debt mountain in the last three years which will need a lot of sacrifice to dismantle yet the leadership was boasting of having saved money from the removal of subsidies on maize and fuel.
“To address the high cost of living, we are proposing a combination of short and long term measures. In the short term, we must reduce the pump price of fuel as it has significantly reduced on the international markets in recent months. We need to lift the wage freeze and lower the prices of food. By lowering the price of fuel, we would be stimulating our economy and help create an environment in which Zambian businesses can move forward and drive growth,” Mr Hichilema said.
Meanwhile, traditional leaders in Southern Province have decided to endorse Mr Hichilema for the presidential election this month.
Addressing the media at Golden Pillow Lodge in Monze yesterday, Chief Mukuni of the Toka Leya people of Southern Province, said their decision to endorse Mr Hichilema was not about tribe.
Chief Mukuni, who was speaking on behalf of other traditional leaders in the Province, said after scrutinizing all the participating candidates, the chiefs decided to back Mr Hichilema because he was the only leader capable of fostering development.
“As traditional leaders, we have over the years been neglected by successive governments and we have decided that there must be a new government that is going to take care of our affairs. We have reluctantly decided to emulate our colleagues in the Eastern Province who, through Paramount Chief Mpezeni, have endorsed Mr Lungu. We have made our choice after scrutinizing all the presidential candidates and we have decided to endorse Mr Hakainde Hichilema for the presidential election this month,” Chief Mukuni said.
The chiefs that attended the media briefing included Chikanta of Kalomo, Singani of Choma, Machila of Namwala, Simaamba of Siavonga and Hamusonde of Mazabuka.