By David Kapoma
Time is moving quiet fast with only about six (6) months left before the general elections. I believe many Zambians that follow politics can analyse that this year’s elections are going to be the most exciting, following the ascenting to the constitutional amendment. For the first time in the history of our democracy Zambia will be holding elections under a new law that require the winning candidate to have atleast fifty (50) percent plus one total votes.
In most cases when we are getting closer to elections, political analysts and commentators give opinions on what they think about different presidential candidates. Mostly the focus is on the candidates posing better chances of winning the elections. We like bringing out the negatives in candidates and forget the positive side.
I have realised that by doing this, we somehow mislead the electorates as we like to paint only the negative sides of the candidates. We forget that every human being has weaknesses and through our journey in life we error. I will therefore write a number of articles in the next few weeks that will look only at the positives of the potential candidates. My hope is that we can atleast have an idea of the good side of the candidates that will stand in this year’s elections.
In no special order whatsoever, I will start with a man most people consider to be one of the big threats to the current government, Mr. Hakainde Hichilema (HH).
Mr. Hichilema was born in Hachipona village, Monze West, in Chief Hamusonde’s area. He comes from a very humble background than most of us can imagine. He is married to Mutinta and together they have three (3) children, a daughter Miyanda, and sons Habwela and Chikonka. He is now the richest politician in Zambia who has never worked in government throughout his life.
The opposition leader is an economist and has been in business from the time he left school. Mr. Hichilema used to seat in about fifty (50) Boards and chaired several of these at a very tender age. Through his hard work he became a Chief Executive Officer at the age of 35 years.
Mr Hichilema acquired his BA Economics & Business Administration at University of Zambia, MBA Finance & Business Strategy at University of Birmingham, United Kingdom. He is a Trained Business Negotiator, Qualified Change Management Practitioner and a Member for Institute of Directors.
He served as Chief Executive Officer of Coopers & Lybrand and later Grant Thornton for 12 years, companies he formerly co-owned. Coopers & Lybrand and Grant Thornton are leading international professional services firms providing corporate finance, accounting, auditing, corporate recovery, management consultancy and tax advisory services to several reputable clients. He has been fairly successful with all the businesses he has been involved in.
Mr. Hichilema has been one of the leading lights in business with wide experience in Zambia, Southern Africa, United Kingdom and other countries at operational and executive management levels. He has represented the Zambian business community at international conferences giving key note speeches to the audiences one would not expect. He is very well spoken and stands as one of the very few rich Zambians who have never been convicted of corruption.
Mr. Hichilema took early retirement from business in 2006 after he was called to join politics and lead the opposition UPND following the unfortunate demise of its founding leader Anderson Kambela Mazoka who was also his partner in some businesses.
Despite having only three (3) biological children Mr.Hichilema takes care of many children especially the orphans and the underprivileged. One would argue that probably he would have the same caring heart for the nation if voted as republican president.
He has a very positive stature that could be decent for the country. With his management skills so good, Mr. Hichilema may be the one to deal with the current economic challenges the country has been facing for a long time.
When you meet him in person he looks very approachable and an easy to go person. He is a gentle man that anyone can start a conversation with. He always tries to smile at people whenever he gets a chance.
Mr. Hichilema has ranches holding over 90,000 cattle in Central and Southern provinces valued at over KR360 million (K360 billion). Four ranches in Choma operating as HH Farm and Blukes Farm which have 20,000 animals and another three ranches in Kalola, Chibombo, with a total 35,000 animals among others. The Cattle ranches have helped Hichilema to emerge as one of the leading suppliers of meat products to Zambeef.
Mr. Hichilema has shares in various private companies including Zambezi Sun International Hotels in Livingstone, Pick n Pay, Game Stores, ALS Capital, a bureau de change based in Lusaka, Manda Hill Centre, More Beef Limited and Anglo-American Corporation.
With the kind of wealth Mr. Hichilema has, one can conclude that his involvement in politics is not about getting rich but to serve the Zambian people as he always puts it himself. He is comfortable financially and probably makes more money than the president.
As we go to the voting booth in the next few months, we will have to consider all the positive attributes of our candidates and ensure that we make the right decisions.
In my next article I shall take a look at the Iron lady, the woman who has been consistent with her message. The leader of the Forum for Development and Democracy (FDD), Madam Edith Nawakwi.
For now it’s good bye and God bless you.