Abigail Chaponda of the Zambia High Commission writes an account of the re-election of her country’s President, Edgar Chagwa Lungu
Zambia recently held a closely contested general election on 11 August 2016 under a new constitution that required a winning presidential candidate to get more than 50 per cent of the valid votes cast. It also required the presidential candidates to run on a joint ticket with a vice-presidential candidate. The Patriotic Front emerged victorious, and President Edgar Chagwa Lungu was re-elected as President of the Republic of Zambia.
President Lungu originally became the President of the Republic of Zambia in a by-election following the death of President Michael Sata in October 2014 and was sworn in for his full five-year term on 13 September 2016.
During a meeting with the European, Asian and American members of the Diplomatic Corps in Zambia, President Lungu said that he was pleased that many local and international observers considered the elections as credible and generally peaceful, adding that the elections were described and declared free and fair by organisations such as the EU, African Union (AU) and Southern African development community (SADC), among others.
He acknowledged that the electoral process had experienced some challenges, but was delighted to state that these were resolved by various institutions, including the Constitutional Court, which consequently allowed for a peaceful assumption of power. The President applauded the countries and organisations that observed the Zambian elections or formed part of the electoral observation missions, saying that their presence provided further legitimacy to the electoral process, and thus, contributed to the consolidation of democracy in Zambia.
The President said that Zambia appreciates the warm and friendly relations that it enjoys with other countries. He added that Zambia attaches great importance to its political, economic and multilateral ties, as they play a significant role in the social and economic development of the nation.
“It is a known fact that no country can exist without the support of other countries, in one way or the other. Therefore, I wish to express my sincere gratitude to those countries and organisations that were represented at the inauguration, which is testimony to the good relations that exist between us. I further wish to express my profound gratitude to Heads of State and Government for their congratulatory messages on my re-election as President of the Republic of Zambia,” he said.
President Lungu says that with his renewed mandate from the Zambian people, during the next five years his government will work extra hard to provide diverse opportunities to enhance and strengthen relations with other countries for the mutual benefit of the Zambian people.
The President clarified that his government’s vision for 2017 is to significantly reduce poverty by focusing on reducing the cost of living for the poor majority. This will be done through increased agricultural productivity, enhanced job creation and accelerating economic diversification in accordance with the 2016-2021 Patriotic Front manifesto.
He says that his government will prioritise agriculture during the next five years, and as such, it will work towards developing key sectors such as energy, industry, transportation, communication, education and health. Accelerated growth in these sectors will spur the much-needed development and modernisation of the agricultural sector, where the country has the greatest potential for improved productivity, and thus increased jobs and wealth.
“My government intends to contribute to a ‘green world’ and seeks to learn and adopt best practices in waste management and environmental preservation. My government will remain fully engaged with the international community on key issues affecting the world such as peace and security, climate change and sustainable development as well as the United Nations reforms… With particular regard to peace and security, Zambia seeks to strengthen her presence at continental level following her membership of the AU Peace and Security Council for the period 2016 – 2019,” he remarked.
The President says Zambia will continue to be actively engaged in peacekeeping, peace-building and conflict-resolution initiatives on the continent, particularly within SADC, COMESA and the Great Lakes region.
And with regard to the reforms of the UN Security Council, President Lungu says Zambia will, through her membership of the Committee of Ten (C10), continue to play a constructive role in ensuring that the intergovernmental negotiation process is accelerated.
“Zambia values the significant role that each and every country plays in [its] social and economic development… It is therefore my desire to continue to actively strengthen and enhance our bilateral and multilateral relations to ensure prosperity for our peoples. I thank you and God bless you all,” he said.