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ANY doubts that anyone could have had about the calibre of some politicians’ intelligence or lack of it must have been put to rest by the behaviour of Mr Hakainde Hichilema, the president of what is Zambia’s largest opposition party, the United Party for National Development.

He is that type of leader who lacks tact, cannot read the mood of the people he claims to represent, or as he says, even sacrifice to be locked up “for their cause.”  He definitely is not a man of the people.

Just consider this.  Like a man who has been in hibernation for months, he wakes up from deep slumber and starts issuing ultimatums to all and sundry. The UPND president has issued a 15-day ultimatum to President Edgar Lungu to increase the maize floor price.

Yet, President Lungu has calmed the stormy weather that evolved when the Food Reserve Agency (FRA), in their “wisdom” announced the national floor price of maize at K60 for a 50-kilogramme bag of maize – when the current rate was K80.00

The price was not only less than the cost of current production but also way below last year’s price.

The Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) other key stakeholders balked at the price and sought representation with the FRA.  However, FRA opted to put cotton in their ears and refused to listen.

ZNFU president Jervis Zimba warned of an impending disaster should FRA refuse to review the floor price – that farmers would stop growing the crop and that such a move would result in serious shortage of maize when the current surplus is consumed and exported.

What is the status quo?  President Lungu stepped in and announced that he would review the price of maize.  This was after he met leaders of the Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia at State House and the nation heaved a sigh of relief.

Now we have Mr Hichilema wanting to take advantage and hoodwink the nation that he cares about the plight of the farmers.  It is an ideal case of “too late the hero.”

Isn’t it ironic that the UPND president has been quiet all this time?  If anything, he found it more important to fly to South Africa to celebrate his release from incarceration with Mmusi Maimane, the leader of the Democratic Alliance!

While in South Africa, he cried about the breakdown of law and order in Zambia, that the Judiciary had been compromised – never once did he talk about the country’s agriculture, or pending crisis regarding the maize price stand-off.

When political observers talk about the desperation in the opposition ranks, especially the UPND, there is no better example than Mr Hichilema’s ultimatum.  He is jumping on the bandwagon because he thinks – wrongly – that it would boost his political fortunes.

Zambian DNA spokesperson Spuki Mulemwa was right that it was politically and morally wrong for Mr. Hichilema to direct President Lungu on when to increase the maize price when he (President) was the one who indicated that he would review the prices without any undue influence from anyone.

We know that opposition parties have a right to be heard but there is cause for worry when they do not back their utterances with facts and figures.  Maybe we are expecting too much from the opposition?

They certainly are a bunch of jokers.

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