By Aaron Chiyanzo
UPND leader, Hakainde Hichilema, who has publicly condemned government dealings with the Chinese government, is secretly trying to entrench himself with that government and has assured China that he would strengthen ties between the two countries, should he become president.
The Daily Nation can reveal that Mr Hichilema has written to the Chinese ambassador seeking a meeting so that he could, among other things, reassure the Chinese administration of his party’s willingness to strengthen relations and investment.
This is however, contrary to what Mr Hichilema and his party, and UPND members of Parliament have been telling the Zambian people.
The UPND has in the recent past been at the fore front of fomenting anti-Chinese sentiments in the country, with MPs questioning the investments and loans obtained from that country.
According to a letter addressed to ambassador, Li Jie, Mr Hichilema states that his party valued the friendship between China and Zambia, “which has blossomed over many years. I wish to assure your Excellency that when the Zambian people decide to give UPND the mandate to preside over the affairs of their country, our party will work hard to strengthen the friendship between our two nations.”
In the letter, the UPND leader hopes that if that time comes, “hopefully the parties can come to a mutual understanding that will enable the friendship to remain intact.”
In the same letter, Mr Hichilema complains that the Patriotic Front had borrowed carelessly to such an extent that government revenue was now only for paying salaries and debt servicing. He claims that government funding for social services like education, health and water was hardly available.
Only last week, Mr Hichilema urged Zambians to act together to stop the PF from selling the country’s strategic assets to foreign countries, China in particular.
And Hichilema was quoted in the local media saying Zambian land and assets belong to Zambians.
“We the citizens of Zambia should and we’ll not allow anyone, organisation or country to take over our sovereignty directly or indirectly.
“It is now imperative than ever before that we the people from all corners of our land and from all walks of life should act together to stop and not allow the PF to sell our land, ZNBC, Zesco, NRDC or any other strategic asset to Chinese or to any other foreign power at the expense of our citizens.”
However, in the letter to the Chinese ambassador, Mr Hichilema, struck a different tone, as he pledged to continue the relationship.
“Once again, your excellency be assured of UPND’s commitment to a long standing and fruitful relationship between the Republic of Zambia and the People’s Republic of China based on mutual respect and win-win principles. China’s financial assistance to Zambia is really appreciated.
“I would also want to believe that China finds something positive for herself in assisting Zambia. This mutual benefit relationship can only be sustained if Zambia does not drift into debt stress and bankruptcy,” the letter reads.