Violent takeover of power an affront to democracy
THE inauguration of Zambia’s sixth republican President, Mr Edgar Chagwa Lungu, who was sworn in on Tuesday at a ceremony attended by President Mugabe among other African leaders, shows that Africa is capable of achieving true democracy without the need for foreign interference or violence. Mr Lungu of the Patriotic Front (PF) party won 50.35 percent of the vote, against 47.67 percent for his main rival Mr Hakainde Hichilema of the United Party for National Development (UPND) during elections held on 11 August. Mr Hichilema mounted unsuccessful bids to set aside the result and block Tuesday’s inauguration after the courts ruled in favour of the incumbent.
President Mugabe and his Botswana counterpart President Ian Khama; vice presidents of Namibia, Tanzania, Kenya, India and Uganda as well as the Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo, were among foreign dignitaries and leaders of regional bodies present at the swearing in ceremony.
Zambian founding father Dr Kenneth Kaunda, and fourth republican president Rupiah Banda, were also among the prominent locals in attendance. In his speech, Mr Lungu noted that there had been pockets of post-election violence and said he would set up a commission of inquiry into the matter.
“Competitive enterprises tend to bring the worst in some of us. On my part, I have no time to settle scores. Let us rise above our different views,” he said.
But Mr Lungu warned that prosperity could not be achieved in an environment of acrimony and without peace.
“To our rivals we say what unites us is far more than what divides us,” he said.
The Zambian President’s message resonated with that of his Zimbabwean counterpart and elder statesman, Cde Mugabe, who spoke passionately about the need for Africa to guard its sovereignty jealously.
Addressing thousands of people who packed Lusaka’s Heroes’ Stadium, President Mugabe said organisations and political parties that seek to use violent means to attain power have no place in a democracy and such outfits are not welcome in Africa.
He said African countries should be free of foreign interference and be able to provide an environment for socio-economic progress for their peoples. “We say the message, revolutionary message of freedom, of independence without outside interference, should be the message everywhere in Africa now,” he said.
“But that message of freedom and independence can only be enhanced if we maintain democracy in our states, and democratic states are peaceful states.
“Democratic states do not entertain, nor can they be expected to tolerate organisations which are violent, organisations which want to use violent means to get to power. No! And I am glad that in Zambia, all has been peaceful, all has been non-violent,” said President Mugabe who was delivering an address on behalf of African heads of State and Government, and leaders of regional bodies who attended the swearing in ceremony.
Democracy, he said, should bring with opportunities for the people.
“Of course, having a political order which is democratic is one thing. That order must also provide us with opportunities: economic opportunities, socio-economic opportunities, I should say, that cater now for the lives and wellbeing of our people.
“Hence, we must continue in Sadc, in Comesa, in the African Union, to work together on all those programmes we have decided can assist the wellbeing of our people. We want our people to be well developed, to be well-educated. We want our it children to be healthy, our people as a whole to be healthy.”
We agree with the President and urge African countries to heed his wise counsel. Freedom and democracy cannot thrive in an environment of strife and conflict. The Zambians have shown the rest of Sadc and the wider African continent that it is possible to resolve electoral disputes without the need to resort to violence.
We commend the people of Zambia for displaying maturity and foresight in the manner in which they handled the disputed electoral outcome. In the same vein, we urge opposition political parties in Zimbabwe to take a leaf from the Zambian scenario and put their country first instead of kowtowing to the whims and caprices of foreign powers.
By resorting to violent demonstrations way before the 2018 general elections are due, the opposition are showing their true colours and those of their paymasters who are anxious to avoid another embarrassing defeat for their proxies. As it becomes increasingly clear that President Mugabe will run in the forthcoming presidential poll, the Western overlords and their local surrogates are at sixes and sevens.
Their panicky mode is betrayed by their escalation of subversive activities which they hope will precipitate the fall of the State so that they can grab power in the ensuing chaos. We are glad that President Mugabe has seen right through their shenanigans and his Government is ready to deal with any malcontents out to destabilise Zimbabwe.