HH can learn from PF and me – Lungu

Former President Edgar Lungu

Former President Edgar Lungu says President Hakainde Hichilema
(HH) can learn how to govern in terms of policy and political
leadership in the agriculture sector from the Patriotic Front
(PF) and himself (Lungu).

Lungu’s commentary was sparked by President Hichilema’s recent
remarks likening the hunger disaster to the seven-year Egyptian
famine described in Genesis 41: 46-57.

President Hichilema’s statement, which included the assertion
that he is “not a magician who can end poverty with a magic
word,” was met with criticism from the former President, who
saw it as an acknowledgment of the administration’s failure to
manage the crisis effectively.

“Fellow Citizens,

On Monday morning, I watched our President, Dr Hakainde
Hichilema invoke the Bible when he said, “hunger is biblical
and that he was not a Magician who can end poverty with a magic
word”. The Zambian leader likened the current hunger disaster
to the proverbial Egyptian famine that lasted seven years as
espoused in Genesis 41: 46-57.

From that perspective, President Hichilema openly acknowledged
the problem at hand we face-a national famine and indirectly,
he exposed his leadership inadequacies to feed and manage the
nation by misinterpreting our good biblical scriptures. I feel
profoundly sorry for him and remain deeply touched by over 6
million Zambians threatened with hunger due to HH’s poor
leadership and bad government policies.

There are things President HH can learn from the past PF
administration and myself in terms of policy and political
leadership in the agricultural sector. Like the story of
Egypt’s ancient Prime Minister, Joseph he cited in the Bible,
my government had sound policy direction, leadership,
foresight, preparedness and effective governance personnel to
grow, feed and stock surplus maize, wheat, soya beans,
groundnuts, fish, cassava, rice, and other crops in times of
plenty to rely on and use in times of drought. In the Bible
story, Joseph had seven years of plenty which saved the next
seven years of scarcity and hunger. This was the policy style
of my government.

Honestly, droughts should never be used as an excuse for bad
leadership and poor policies.
In 2018, after experiencing a crippling drought, I put together
a competent team and gave it one major task—“grow our maize
reserve and food security to an extent that Zambians would not
starve during any future drought”. From 300,000 tons of maize
in 2018, we increased the harvest to 433,000 tons in 2019 and
kept increasing the harvest to more than 3 million tons by

Clearly it was our distinguished political leadership that made
a huge difference. When we left office in August 2021, our
maize strategic reserves record stood at over 2 million tons,
ensuring Zambia´s food security for the next two years or more
in case of drought. I remain proud of this record as former
President. Had I been in power today, Zambia would have still
been feeding from our own strategic maize reserves and the
price of mealie meal would have been much lower than the
current K380 or K420 depending on where you are buying the
commodity from.

How did we achieve national food security with strategic
reserves? My government decided to increase and double maize
production countrywide. We increased our national budget for
the agriculture sector. Importation of Agricultural equipment
was made tax free; we decisively ensured that the distribution
of seed and fertilizer was timely everywhere. FRA was funded to
buy farming outputs on time. We partnered with traditional
leaders, farmers unions, women cooperatives and everyone.

In short, we worked smart and strategically, planned for both
years of plenty and years of scarcity. We made honest and
practical policy decisions. We didn’t just talk; we walked the

As a President, my team ensured national food security was a
reality, regardless of the rainfall pattern. I want to advise
Mr. Hichilema to avoid getting into ´denial mode´ regarding the
food crisis that has been worsened by his own poor leadership.
The Zambian government was foretold about this drought in 2022
when we had strategic stocks of maize left by my
administration. Records show that our president rejected timely
expert advice not to export maize due to his arrogance and
‘know it all’ attitude. Yes, he reject expert advice!

We are in this food crisis mainly because the current
administration exported all our emergency food stocks, leaving
no reserves for our people to feed on in times of drought like
these today. During the press briefing, Mr Hichilema missed an
opportunity to expressly apologize to Zambians for exporting
our maize reserves abroad and intentionally starving our
citizens who had huge maize reserves in stock. It was extremely
wrong and ethically inhumane to prioritize commerce over human

When he addressed the nation, our president needed to share
with Zambians practical solutions to the current food crisis
and disastrous drought. Instead, he chose rhetoric and empty
promises again. Regrettably, while six million Zambians face
starvation for the first time in almost sixty years, their own
president (HH) is dramatizing everything before the eyes of
poor, helpless and hungry citizens by ´mocking’ that he is not
a magician to feed them. Again, this is a gesture of cruelty
and so unacceptable especially for a man who condemned our
every effort to produce enough food for our people and made
huge empty promises in 2021.”

In 2026, Zambians must bring back leaders who do not only care
for them, but also respect human life and possess experience to
ensure food security and availability is a reality. Leaders who
made sure that basic commodities such as mealie meal, sugar,
salt, tomato, electricity, water, cooking oil, petrol were
cheaper and affordable.

Soon or later, PF and our comrades in UKA will seek to offer a
tested, trusted, honest, united and reliable leadership for our
people. ‘UKAN’ Zambians!

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