On August 27th, new President Hakainde Hichilema of the opposition United Party for National Development who won by a margin exceeding 1 million votes, was inaugurated. “HH” as he is known in Zambia has made five previous attempts at the presidency. He encountered all sorts of aggression by previous regimes – arrested, jailed, beaten, intimidated, threatened, his family endangered. But now he has made it!
Almost exactly 6 years ago, HH wrote wrote us a letter as President of the UNDP, thanking us for our offer of assistance to Zambia on conservation matters. Specifically, he stated that past Zambian governments failed to consult and listen to experts when developing policies. He also said that the UNPD will not make short terms gains from the destruction of wildlife (such as trophy hunting) but will instead seek to invest in the photographic tourism sector.
HH will be a breath of fresh air in Zambia, previously ruled by authoritarians who basically bankrupted the nation. Zambia recently defaulted on their debt repayments – and now the country is entirely reliant on the IMF to afford them further loans to keep the country going. HH has inherited a massive problem, and we hope he will still be able to turn things around for Zambians coming to terms with past regime fiscal irresponsibility.
One thing we are sure of, as we have had correspondence on the matter, is that he will be a good conservator of what Zambian wildlife remains. We will certainly be back in touch with HH on a variety of wildlife matters once he has time to settle down in office and appoint a Minister with oversight of Zambia’s wildlife resources.
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