UNITED Party for National Development (UPND) president Hakainde Hichilema yesterday declared himself the most suitable candidate for the 2011 presidential election on account of his younger age and modern leadership posture.
The UPND and Patriotic Front (PF), headed by Michael Sata, are running a pact which is yet to elect a candidate to lead the alliance into next year’s presidential election.
PF vice-president Guy Scott said, however, that there was nothing wrong with Mr Hichilema declaring himself the right candidate because the members of the joint committee of the pact would still have to decide who would be the candidate.
Addressing supporters on arrival from the United States of America (USA) at Lusaka International Airport yesterday, Mr Hichilema said many developed and developing countries had shifted from the practice of voting for old leaders and because of that, he wanted to lead Zambia starting next year.
He cited the example of Tanzania, Russia, United Kingdom and the USA, which had voted into office young and intelligent leaders aged between 40 and 50 years.
Mr Hichilema said Russian President Dmitry Medvedev was 45 years old, while Tanzania’s Jakaya Kikwete was 50 and US President Barack Obama was only 48.
Newly-inaugurated British Prime Minister David Cameron, born on October 9, 1966, was 44 years old and Mr Hichilema, at 48, argued that he was the best candidate to take over Government next year.
Mr Hichilema said Zambia should join this category of leadership next year by electing him into office.
“The world knows what type of leadership this country needs and surely you the people of Zambian cannot see. I hope Zambians can make the right choices next year,” Mr Hichilema told the cheering crowd.
He said he had travelled to the US at the invitation of the government of that country to learn about international security, which was important to Zambia.
He was in the US for 18 days and arrived aboard a South African Airways flight at 12:30 hours.
Asked about the failure by the pact to launch at the end of March as announced at the beginning of the year, Mr Hichilema said by-elections in some constituencies around the country had kept the political parties busy.
He said the launch would still go ahead and had not been cancelled, although that would now depend on the Luena parliamentary by-election that resulted from the resignation of Charles Milupi, who formed the Alliance for Democracy and Development.
But Dr Scott said even Mr Sata could declare himself as the most suitable candidate and urged people not to see anything wrong with that declaration.
He said there was nothing that would stop any of the two leaders to make such statements because they knew that the joint technical committee in the pact and other stakeholders would eventually decide who would be the candidate.
Meanwhile, Mr Hichilema condemned Mr Milupi for causing the by-election and blamed him for resources that would be spent on the poll.
He said Mr Milupi should have waited for 2011 in line with the advice he was given before he launched his party.
On calls for political parties to have a ceiling in terms of how much they should spend on any election, Mr Hichilema said Mr Milupi should have raised the matter in the National Constitutional Conference.
The UPND was not shaken by plans by the MMD to petition the Mufumbwe parliamentary by-election results because about 300 witnesses would be lined up and some would testify that they were given suits by the Government.
Mr Hichilema also welcomed the demotion of former Home Affairs minister Lameck Mangani and the appointment of former chairperson of committees at Parliament Mkhondo Lungu to take over the position.
TIMES OF ZAMBIA