OPINION: Hichilema And His Troubled Political Support System

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You will know them by their fruits is an age-old adage that cuts across various spectrums of life. Well, we can choose to reflect on this across various spectrums of our lives. But with Zambians deeply immersed in discourse on elections and the current voter registration exercise going on, we are persuaded to zero in on one of the leading players in the looming presidential contest. Five time losing presidential candidate Hakainde Hichilema has remained a constant in the opposition United Party for National Development (UPND) equation since his chaotic ascendancy to the party presidency mired in tribal sentiment in 2006. Almost everything else has changed except the Hichilema presidency in UPND. He has survived a dozen of vice presidents that have all left in frustration after failing to work with him. We are tempted to mention a few here: Patrick Chisanga, Richard Kapita, Dr Canisius Banda, Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba. We could add here the departure of long-time vice presidents Sakwiba Sikota and Bob Sichinga whose exit was connected to the ascendancy of Hichilema to the UPND presidency. In all this, we ask, “why have all these people left? Why has it been so hard for other progressive Zambians to work with Hichilema?” Others have previously sacrificed their dignity and integrity to just hang around Hichilema. The casualty list has personalities like Charles Milupi, Sean Tembo, and Felix Mutati who have since moved on. It appears that the phobia for competition and tribal badges has left the UPND vice presidency vacant since the last occupant left over a year ago. Others around Hichilema are relegated to mere praise singers. Could all these proven patriots have been wrong to desert Hichilema and he alone is always right? Is Hichilema equals to UPND and vice versa? Why is the question of a UPND convention often swept under the carpet each time it is raised? These are legitimate questions that must be asked to the UPND leadership as they seek to govern this country.

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