#Article (Archive)

Zambians have spoken

Sep 26, 2011, 12:59 PM

The outcome of last Thursday’s presidential election in Zambia is by all indications a clear testimony that real democracy is at work in that country.

Zambians voted in opposition leader Michael Sata as the country’s new president after a tightly contested presidential race, sending signals that their country neither belong to outgoing President Rupiah Banda, who led Zambia for 20 years, nor to any Zambian.

Translated into plain terms, the victory shows that the majority of Zambians are fed up with the leadership of outgoing President Banda.

Once again, the people of Zambia have shown that, in a democracy, power resides with the people!

And on Election Day, the Zambian people willingly and openly entrusted opposition leader Michael Sata with the custody of that sovereignty for the next five years.

Yet, with this unalloyed trust come a lot of challenges.

By voting overwhelmingly for Sata, Zambians want to see a continuity of the plethora of development projects the outgoing leadership initiated, and fulfillment of his electoral promises, key among them addressing unemployment and providing better working conditions.

Another lesson to learn from Zambia, is the demonstration of political maturity, as seen and heard in the way outgoing President Rupiah Banda conceded defeat, and called for unity in Zambia.

“The people of Zambia have spoken, and we must all listen,” Mr Banda told journalists, wiping away tears after finishing his speech.

He said previous Zambian presidents had accepted electoral defeat, and “I did not want to be the first one to disturb our democratic process”.

Banda knows very well that power belongs to the people and, as such, he accepted in good faith the outcome of the elections - for the betterment of all Zambians.

As we always emphasize on these pages, African leaders must understand that they are only political appointees that are given a mandate to run the affairs of their various countries, just for a time, and they must, therefore, not see or ever, for even a second, believe or act like the country is their personal property.

We have seen in some instances that once elected into office, some African leaders tend to believe that only they can be trusted to run the affairs of their country.

This is wrong thinking!

Indeed, the scourge of leaders clinging to power, and overstaying their welcome, had blighted the continent for a very long time, and has never been anything but destructive.

Also worth noting in Zambia is the role of the electoral commission, headed by a woman, which declared the election results, and the chief justice of Zambia who was the returning officer and whose role it was to declare the election of Sata as the winner.

The process seen in Zambia clearly shows that the electoral commission and judiciary are truly independent institutions.

 This is another example of best practice, and one example other states in Africa with a record of poor governance should learn from, and emulate.

“So two cheers for Democracy: one because it admits variety, and two because it permits criticism. Two cheers are quite enough: there is no occasion to give three.”

E.M. Forster