The Zambian election has provided an important lesson for the people of Zimbabwe and Sadc that peaceful power transfer is possible, analysts said on Friday, wrote the Newsday of Zimbabwe
The Zambian election, which saw opposition leader Michael Sata, nicknamed “King Cobra”, oust incumbent Rupiah Banda, whose Movement for Multiparty Democracy had run Zambia since 1991, is a victory for democracy.
Sata was duly declared the winner by Ireen Mambilima, chairwoman of the Electoral Commission, and Zambia’s Chief Justice Ernest Sakala.
Gilbert Kagodora, the national coordinator of Zimbabwean civil rights group March 11 Movement, said the Zambians should be congratulated and emulated.
“We applaud the incumbent president His Excellency the Honourable Rupiah Banda for not abusing State institutions as tools of repression and suppression of the citizens of Zambia and subversion of the people of Zambia’s will,” he said.
“We applaud the founding president of Zambia for helping our northern neighbours to start on a firm footing in the building of democracy and democratic institutions that makes the Zimbabwean State players stand in awe and envy, a process that seems to be light years away from us . . . We applaud the Electoral Commission of Zambia for walking the narrow road and their professional conduct and I hope the Chiweshes of Zimbabwe (referring to Zimbabwe Electoral Commission chairman Justice George Chiweshe) will pluck a leaf or two on professional conduct.”
Lovemore Madhuku, the chairman of the National Constitution Assembly, said the results should not send shockwaves to Zimbabwe or the region because a change of government is one of the things expected during an election.
“These are good lessons for us. Election results must be accepted and elections should be conducted peacefully and all parties must agree on the conditions,” he said.
“It does not matter who wins, but the loser should accept the results. In any election there is a possibility of the incumbent remaining in power or a change of government. That’s what elections are about and this should be accepted.”
Analyst Blessing Vava said Banda had set an example for African leaders by graciously accepting defeat. He said Sata, who has previously lost three presidential elections, had shown that perseverance pays.
“The first lesson is that leaders are not indispensable. Once people are tired of you they boot you out. We commend Banda for accepting defeat, and it’s a call to all African leaders that they should respect the will of the people. Thirdly, we need to appreciate the role of proper and non-partisan institutions in electoral processes as witnessed in Zambia.
“Sata’s victory exhibits that perseverance pays in politics. He has been an opposition leader for 20 years and becoming a president does not need one to be educated. He is a man who came from grass to grace, starting as a sweeper at London’s Victoria Train Station and now he is a Head of State.
Media lecturer and analyst Wellington Gadzikwa said the Zambian election results were a good starting point for Sadc and a perfect example that those who lose elections accept the will of the people.
“It’s a good starting point for Sadc and a good example worth emulating. Our challenge now as Zimbabweans is to emulate (by accepting the results),” he said.
Alexander Rusero, another analyst, said: “These elections were well coordinated and the playing field was level. It’s a lesson that if things are well-coordinated in Zimbabwe, the next elections will be fine.”
Emmanuel Nkosilathi Moyo, the director of the Zimbabwe Organisation for Youths in Politics, said the Zambian election had shown that it was possible to have free and fair elections and that the will of the people had been respected.
In Tanzania, the Leader of the Official Opposition in Parliament, Freeman Mbowe, who is also the national chairman of Chadema praised Zambia’s former president for conceding defeat. He said Mr Banda spared Zambia spillage of blood as tension was already high in the country when the electoral commission delayed announcing the winner.
Dr Benson Bana, head of the Political Science department at the University of Dar es Salaam, said what happened in Zambia was good for democracy. He added that political parties in power should know that the only thing that mattered to wananchi was their performance.
And Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga has lauded the country’s outgoing leader Rupiah Banda for conceding defeat.
Speaking in London on his way to New York for meetings on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, Odinga congratulated Banda for steering Zambia through a second democratic, largely peaceful transfer of power.
“For those of us who refuse to buy the idea that Africa is a lost cause, (those) who cling to the hope that the 21st Century could be Africa’s, every democratic election and peaceful transfer of power on the Continent emboldens our belief and presents us with the reason to hope even more that our struggling countries are on the right path towards a full transition to democracy. The people and leadership of Zambia have done the continent proud and given us hope by what they achieved in this election,” Odinga added.
Odinga said Zambia could play a significant role in helping stabilise the southern Africa region and aiding the spread of democracy in that part of the continent.
He said the people of Zambia should have no problem working together, saying outgoing president Banda had shown them the way by conceding defeat.