Vi­o­lent takeover of power an af­front to democ­racy

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - National News -

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.

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