Daily Nation Newspaper - - HOME NEWS - 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 in Par­lia­ment 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.

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