Opposition UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema has rubbished assertions that he personally looted state resources during the privatization programmes by undervaluing some state assets.
Mr Hichilema maintained that he offered a professional service to the Zambian Government during the privatization exercise through his firm Coopers & Lybrand which later changed its name to Grant Thornton.
He said he has never worked in Government and does not understand how a professional firm could hoodwink an entire Government system to sale its assets cheaply adding that he was never involved in the sale of any ZCCM asset.
Mr Hichilema was speaking last evening when he featured on the Assignment programme on Muvi TV.
“You cannot say I influenced Government to sale cheaply, I performed valuation services and it was up to the Zambian Government which included some people that are in big leadership roles today to sale or not to sale,” Mr Hichilema explained.
He said the MMD cabinet that decided on the privatization exercise included President Sata who was then Minister without portfolio and current Vice President who was then Agriculture Minister.
“These were key men. You need to ask them to account for their actions including the current Minister of Finance Chikwanda, he was at State House as Chief of Staff. Don’t blame HH for privatization, you know who was in Government then.”
Mr Hichilema added, “I’m not a thief, I have no thread or iota of thieving in my blood. I challenged the President when he accused me of having stolen Cattle that he has a thieving culture I don’t have, if I have stolen something, I challenged him that if I stole Cattle let him arrest me because Cattle is not like rats.”
The UPND leader said he is just a simple villager who started from the floor to acquire what he has.
“I’m a guy who comes from the floor, every Zambia should be proud of their heritage, I come from the floor, went to a village school then later went to a secondary school in the area God chose I should be born, no one chooses where to be born and which language to speak, by the way there is no minority tribe in this country, all of them are equal.”
Mr Hichilema continued, “I was born in grass thatched house, not in a maternity wing of a hospital or clinic, walked to school bare foot, drew water from shallow wells that is why am so passionate about free education so that no other children whether orphans or not should have to go through what we went through.”
I then went to the University of Zambia. Did many things, I bought my first plot in Kalingalinga using my second salary, I could not afford a brick layer with a team of helpers. So I pushed the wheelbarrow myself. I couldn’t complete it and I sold it for a profit, bought another plot, sold it at a profit. I can say I got my business training by rearing Cattle. Entrepreneurship comes from our heritage, cattle rearing. When I was building, my fellow classmates from were laughing at me that I was building a house in the Komboni but I knew I was better because they were renting and I was building a house.”
On the issue of tribalism, Mr Hichilema said the tribal tag does not bother him.
“It’s a non-issue, it’s a matter am completely relaxed about, it does not bother me. UPND is the most represented party in terms of regions. I come from the South, two Veeps from North Western and Eastern Province, Kaputa Northern Province and National Secretary is from Central Province. The structure of the NMC has every part of Zambia represented,” he said.
He said the UPND has Councilors and MPs from all the provinces of Zambia adding that the party has pushed its doors to accommodate anyone even from regions such as Luapula and Northern Province.
Mr Hichilema said the issue of tribe is not serious because PF Secretary General Wynter Kabimba is on record as having said the PF is the tribal and indiscipline political organisation in the history of Zambia.
Mr Hichilema also denied reports that the UPND is courting Kasama PF MP Geoffrey Mwamba for the position of Vice President.
“We are courting everyone. The UPND has bedrooms for the 13 million Zambians. We are not courting GBM for the Vice President position but we are courting every Zambia,” Mr Hichilema said.