The leader of Zambia’s opposition United Party for National Development (UNDP) says President Rupiah Banda has failed to lead the country in the time of crisis after accusing the president of being overly excited about travelling abroad.
Hakainda Hichilema described the president as “Mr. Holiday” who has so far failed to provide leadership when several Zambians were killed during the recent floods.
“The president must understand that his primary responsibility is to ensure that he can attend to the welfare of the people of Zambia. That is the reason that he was elected into office. It is therefore logical that he does begin to understand that he has priorities and his priorities are to deal with domestic issues first. Charity begins at home,” he said.
During his visit that began on Feb. 24 to March 4, President Banda reportedly held meetings with Chinese President Hu Jintao as well as Wu Bangguo, Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress and the Premier of the State Council, Wen Jiabao.
Opposition leader Hichilema joined other opposition leaders to criticize President Banda over what they say is the leader’s excessive foreign trips.
They said since President Banda came to office about a year and half ago, he has made over 30 different international travels.
But Zambia’s media quoted President Banda as dismissing the accusations, saying “people who are attacking me over my visits to other countries are doing so out of ignorance,” President Banda said.
The president further said that his meetings with world leaders were important in maintaining good neighborliness and exploring new avenues for trade.
But Hichilema said President Banda failed to lead when Zambians were faced with a crisis of flood.
“The president of Chile after being elected it was a period when there was an earthquake. (But) he left other presidents who came to witness his inauguration and flew to the earthquake area. That’s what we expect our president to do, not travelling perpetually,” Hichilema said.
Main opposition Patriotic Front (PF) party leader Michael Sata condemned Mr. Banda’s trips abroad saying the president was traveling at the expense of Zambians who live under abject poverty.