The leader of Zambia’s opposition United Party for National Development (UPND) said that of the country’s three main political parties, his is the only stable one.
As a result, Hakainde Hichilema said, the people of Zambia are looking up to him to lead the country.
Zambians go to the polls next month in a special election to choose a successor to President Michael Sata, who died in October this year.
Sata’s ruling Patriotic Front (PF) party has been embroiled in inter-party squabbles over who should be the presidential candidate.
Two competing factions have chosen different candidates – Defense Minister Edgar Lungu and deputy commerce minister Miles Sampa.
The opposition Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) has also chosen two presidential candidates – former President Rupiah Banda and Nevers Mumba, the MMD’s current president.
Hichilema said he’s not surprised by the current divisions within the ruling PF party.
“I’m not surprised because the ruling party has always exhibited the traits of confusion and lack of order. In fact, they are the ones that have been perpetrating the break down in the rule of law. All of that was happening even before the late president passed on,” he said.
Hichilema also criticized the opposition MMD party for its split leadership and said Zambians are gravitating toward the UPND because of the confusion within the two other parties.
“We are basically already providing leadership from the opposition. We are running the country from the opposition. I think what is now expected is to formalize that through an election so that the country can be run by us directly,” Hichilema said.
Hichilema said the UPND aims to reunite Zambians as a platform for an accelerated economic and social development.
He said over 20 MMD members of parliament have already endorsed his candidacy for the presidency, and that he’s invited more to join and use the UPND as a platform for change.
Zambia is Africa’s second largest copper producer, but Hichilema said all measures of economic performance have been negative recently, with the country seeing high levels of unemployment, high food prices, lack of clean drinking water, and few business opportunities.
Hichilema said his main reason for seeking the presidency is to improve the economy.
“Our main reason for seeking public office is to turn around the economy. We will focus on creating and improving the business and investment environment. Make it attractive, credible, predictable, and consistent. And once we do that, we will see basically the investment sector in Zambia, they will choose to stay; they will also do more than stay. They will reinvest,” Hichilema said.