Hichilema and Chamisa East and West

Prosperity Mzila

Congratulatory messages from across Africa to Zambia have reached the leader of the United Party for National Development (UPND) Hakainde Hichilema on his election victory against the former ruling party, Patriotic Front (PF) leader, Edgar Lungu in the just ended elections.

Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa is also among those that have sent congratulatory messages to Hichilema on his victory.  Nelson Chamisa, leader of the MDC Alliance also sent his message claiming sisterhood to the UPND party.  Chamisa’s excitement could not be concealed as he literally took ownership of the victory and making it a yardstick that guarantees him and his party that they will equally win the election come 2023.

In his congratulatory message, President Mnangagwa said, “I am gratified to warmly congratulate you on your election as President of the Republic of Zambia.  Your election to the highest office is ample testimony to the confidence and trust that the people of Zambia have in your leadership to guide the country to a prosperous future,” said President Mnangagwa.

The key phrase in President Mnangagwa’s congratulatory message that Chamisa and his MDC Alliance should take note of is, “testimony to the confidence and trust that the people of Zambia have in your leadership.”  That is what led to Hichilema’s victory.

Hichilema has been at the helm of the UPND since 2006, having contested in five previous elections in 2006, 2008, 2011 and 2015, working on the ground with the people. He listened and understood the needs of the people and gave them home grown solutions.  He never promised them heaven on earth, spaghetti roads and runways in their backyards, using finances derived from the west.  He addressed the issues that were bedevilling the people of Zambia despite being an opposition leader.  Hichilema is not an opposition leader anymore; he has now joined other African leaders at the big table, thanks to his ideologies that are original and patriotic. 

People need someone who listens and addresses their issues, unlike Chamisa who promises people the intervention of other nations in the event that he wins an election.  He is incapable of doing anything for the people at all.  His party took over most urban councils and yet it failed to deliver service after taking over a functional system, Chamisa and his party destroyed it and people began to live without running water, with sewer flowing everywhere and garbage at every corner. The last time people saw running water coming out of their taps was 21 years ago and that the time MDC Alliance took over the urban councils.

Hichilema rose through the ranks and file of the UPND until he legally took over the presidency of the party and recently the country with the support of the people.   Chamisa on the other hand was so impatient and did not wait to be elected at the MDC Extra Ordinary Congress, instead choosing to impose himself unconstitutionally. He grabbed power even before its founding member; the late Morgan Richard Tsvangirai was laid to rest. 

Nelson Chamisa needs to wake up and smell the coffee. Things change overnight.  He no longer shares the same title with Hichilema, as he has remained an opposition leader while the latter is now at the table with the other African leaders.  Hichilema is now President-elect of the Republic of Zambia, while he remains leader of what’s left of a disintegrating opposition party the MDC Alliance, as its members continue to defect to other parties.

Chamisa should self-introspect and find out how Hichilema has won the hearts and votes of the people of Zambia.  It is definitely not by destroying their lives and livelihoods through sanctions.  The Zambian President-elect never begged for sanctions and never globetrotted with a begging bowl, but worked hard to win the people’s trust by proselytization of workable strategies and leading by example.  His favourite question has always been, Zambia is so rich yet the people are poor? His promise has always been to work the land and give an opportunity to every Zambian to live a decent life. 

Unlike Chamisa who promised to revive the economy through borrowed funds from the likes of Trump, Hichilema promises to work the land and revive the economy.  Chamisa hinges the rest of his campaign on lies and fairy tale stories.  Hichilema preaches and practises servant leadership as witnessed on his twitter handle where he says, “We are not masters of the people, we are their servants.”  Yet Chamisa has tasted power and has only worked to consolidate it by kicking out anyone who does not toe his line.

Meanwhile, President-elect Hichilema embraces different views and ideas, stressing that differences in opinion do not make people his enemies; instead he welcomes them as it helps him to govern properly. Chamisa on the other hand is a master of hate language, cursing and defaming opposing minds.  That has only but proven that he is immature and not ready to lead the nation.   At one point, Chamisa deployed his hooligans to demonstrate, destroy infrastructure and cause civil disobedience only to turnaround and label them stupid to have followed his instructions.   

For Chamisa to claim that UPND’s election victory is an indication of his position in 2023 is a hyperbole. Zimbabweans and Zambians are at different political levels.  The leaders that Zimbabwe has had since 1980 are all patriotic and know what Zimbabwe and its citizens are worth. They know the amount of blood that brought about this independence that Chamisa and his party are enjoying.  As such, even as the late former president Robert Mugabe left politics in November of 2017, President Emmerson Mnangagwa picked up the baton and carried on with the aspirations of the people of Zimbabwe and only improved on them.

It will seem an impossible task for Chamisa to land the position in highest office in the land, as his opponent is a hard-working and focused individual who is goal oriented.  President Mnangagwa and his team have managed to resuscitate the country’s economy, rebuild infrastructure, road rehabilitation, engage and re-engage friendly and estranged countries, attract foreign direct investment, introducing sustainable agricultural practice by introducing smart agriculture and creating home grown jobs.  The people of Zimbabwe are happy for the stabilisation of the foreign exchange rate, the stable prices, availability of fuel, introduction of our own currency, availability of medicines, nurses are well paid and back at work, civil servants are happy as Government pays attention to their needs.  This is a winning card for ZANU PF come 2023 elections.

Meanwhile, Chamisa has turned into an authoritarian leader as he leads the MDC Alliance with an iron fist. He recently disbanded the running of primary elections and decided to hand pick his foot soldiers and place them in MDC Alliance stronghold constituencies.  This has caused his party to splinter into numerous factions.  Some of the MDC Alliance leaders have since joined other political parties such as ZANU PF and MDC T as they fail to see the future in MDC Alliance under Chamisa.                                                                                                                                                         

There is a unique characteristic that Hichilema possesses that Chamisa doesn’t and that is patriotism and understanding that Zambian issues can only be solved by Zambians and so are Zimbabwe issues by Zimbabweans.   Instead Chamisa believes that the West can have solutions for Zimbabwe. This is one of the major reasons he will never win an election because the people will continue to view him as a puppet of the West.  It seems he represents the interests of the former colonisers who continuously oil his pockets with money and yet impose destructive sanctions on fellow Zimbabweans.  This is exactly where Chamisa and Hichilema are like east and west, never the twain to meet.