Abigail Chaponda of the Zambia High Commission says her country’s elections in early August signified a new start
FOLLOWING THE 12 AUGUST ELECTION, President Hakainde Hichilema was sworn in as Zambia’s seventh President alongside his Vice President Mrs Mutale Nalumango. This took place before a delighted crowd at an inauguration ceremony at Heroes National Stadium, that included a dozen African heads of government, dignitaries, and heads of international organisations.
President Hichilema thanked Zambians for their trust in him saying, “I stand before you today, humbled and filled with gratitude, for your trust in a simple village boy who you have made the seventh President of the Republic of Zambia. This victory is not mine, but for all the citizens of our great country, especially the youth who turned out to vote in great numbers with great energy and passion and made this day possible. We showed the world the resilience of our democracy, and we reaffirmed that power belongs to the people.”
President Hichilema said that the road ahead will not be without challenges, but with relentless determination and the clear vision and plan that the current government has put in place, the government will overcome and deliver on the aspirations of the Zambian people.
He said “to the jobless youths, a new dawn is here where you will be skilled and find opportunity to work or do business in an economy that we will revive; to the mother struggling with the high cost of food, a lower cost of living will soon be a reality; to the entrepreneur seeking capital, an investor and a better operating environment, a government is here that understands your challenges, and knows exactly what you need in order to thrive.”
The President said that Zambian voters have entrusted the UPND Alliance with the responsibility of serving the population and running the affairs of the nation with their interests at heart.
He said the UPND Alliance will not take this responsibility lightly: “we will truly be your servants and you the people, our masters, as your President, I will ensure that we deliver on our promises.”
Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland has described Zambia’s elections last month as “miraculous,” saying the 2021 election would go down in history as an election with no losers, but two winners: President Hichilema who won the vote, and President Lungu who won the hearts of every person who loves democracy and peace by a graceful democratic transfer of leadership and extending his brotherly hand to President Hichilema.
Patricia Scotland congratulated President Hakainde Hichilema and the people of Zambia and expressed gratitude to outgoing President Edgar Lungu for his contribution to what the new President referred to as a “democratic transfer of leadership.” She said: “This is indeed a high moment for the Commonwealth, Africa and the whole of the international community. Everyone has played their part. Zambia’s democracy is a feat to be admired and celebrated, and one which we hope to see emulated in the wider Commonwealth family.
The Secretary-General said: “The seeds of this miraculous peace were sown four years ago, when two Zambian statesmen entrusted with the hopes and aspirations of the Zambian people decided that their belief in God, integrity, unity and safety of their country was more important than self-interest and they both decided to put Zambia and Zambians first…They both faced a choice, and they chose peace. And so did other Zambian parliamentarians, civil society groups, church bodies, corporate community, and Zambian citizens.
“The flame of peace, which was set alight by President Dr Kenneth David Kaunda, which was entrusted to each of his successors, nurtured and kept alive through some of the darkest of times by both former President Lungu and President Hichilema has brought us here today.”
Meanwhile, Democratic Republic of Congo President His Excellency Felix Tshisekedi, who is also the African Union (AU) Chairperson commended Zambians for the peaceful elections. President Tshisekedi assured the new President of the AU’s support as he takes over Zambia’s leadership.
Malawi’s President His Excellency Lazarus Chakwera who is the current Chairman of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) said the Zambian polls had demonstrated that democracy in Africa was maturing, while noting that the country had distinguished herself as a beacon of constitutionalism. “This is the triumph of the African spirit, the embodiment of the Africa we want and the Africa we know ourselves to be. This Zambian story is a positive story that Africa is no longer an infant, Africa has shown the spirit of unity and maturity,” the Malawi President said.
Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo who represented the panel of renowned African elders said Zambia had shown that Africa is now mature and that it is possible to have peaceful transition of power from one political party to another.
Other leaders at the inauguration included Presidents Hage Geingob (Namibia), Filipe Nyusi (Mozambique) and Emmerson Mnangagwa (Zimbabwe), along with South Africa’s Cyril Ramaphosa, Mokgweetsi Masisi (Botswana), Samia Suluhu (Tanzania) and King Mswati III of the Kingdom of Eswatini.