Sierra Leone Telegraph: 16 August 2021:
Zambia’s main opposition party leader – Mr Hakainde Hichilema has today been declared the winner of the country’s elections, after much uncertainty and fear of political violence breaking out across the country.
The Business tycoon won the hotly contested presidential election, defeating incumbent president Edgar Lungu by a landslide.
Results announced this morning by the chairman of the electoral commission – Justice Esau Chulu, showed Hichilema had won 2,810,757 of the votes against Lungu’s 1,814,201: “I therefore declare the said Hakainde Hichilema to be president-elect of the Republic of Zambia.”
Hakainde Hichilema’s victory brings his six times attempt to win the presidency to an end, after narrowly losing to president Lungu in 2016 by about 100,000 votes.
It is thought that Mr Lungu lost the election after six years of alleged human rights abuses and corruption, and presiding over a failing economy with massive youth unemployment, which Hakainde Hichilema now has the task of addressing.
Although president Lungu eventually accepted Hakainde Hichilema victory, his earlier decision to object to the results – claiming the election was neither free nor fair due – citing incidents of violence, was a huge challenge for the African Union election observers led by Sierra Leone’s former president Ernest Bai Koroma whose handling of the elections has been described as exemplary.
Former President Ernest Bai Koroma earlier today called on Zambians to celebrate peacefully ahead of the announcement of the results.
Following a fruitful meeting with incumbent president Edgar Chagwa Lungu, the Head of the African Union Election Observation Mission (AUEOM ) encouraged winners to be magnanimous in victory.
Koroma said, “I have had a fruitful discussion with the incumbent President, and I am pleased that Zambians are indeed one people and one nation.”
“Having been in both situations of losing and winning, I know that there’s no shame in losing. At the same time, being a winner presents an even bigger responsibility to keep the country together and ensure the safety and security of all citizens including former Presidential candidates,” President Koroma stated. (Photo below: Former President Koroma (Center) President Elect Hakainda Hichilema (Right) and Outgoing President Edgar Lungu).
Reporting for president Koroma’s office, Sheriff Mahmud Ismail sent this report:
The African Union head of delegation to Zambia, former Sierra Leonean President Koroma went on over drive Monday in pursuit of his ‘preventive diplomacy’ mandate whose focus was on mediation.
The task at hand was to facilitate a smooth transition owing to the fact that the two protagonists, President Elect, Hichilema and outgoing President Lungu, have had a long running feud. Hichilema said he has been badly treated by Lungu who incarcerated him about 15 times on all manner of charges including treason.
Now the tables have turned, Hichilema has won a resounding electoral victory which left Lungu gasping in despair and desperation for some cover. Though he has honourably conceded defeat and congratulated the President Elect, calling him “my brother” in his concession speech, fears still existed on the part of Lungu about retribution. At the same time, Hichilema was concerned that Lungu might delay the transition by petitioning the outcome. (Video below – President Lungu conceding defeat).
To assuage these concerns, President Koroma earlier this afternoon held discussions with outgoing President Lungu, and earlier this evening, his assignment led him to Zambia’s former President Rupiah Banda. The two statesmen met at Banda’s residence in the southern part of Lusaka. interestingly Banda’s is sequestered in area called Makeni, same name as former president Koroma’s hometown in Sierra Leone albeit the latter’s is in the northern part of his country.
Receiving the AU envoy at his residence in Makeni, Lusaka, Zambia, former Zambian President Banda said: Mr. President, you’re warmly welcome, this is your home too”.
Banda and Koroma were joined by the head of the European Union Mission to the Zambian elections, Tanzania’s former President Jakaya Kikwete. The triumvirates have been seized of the situation from the outset and are determined to see it through to a successful, peaceful end.
The three statesmen therefore jointly held a closed – door tet – a – tet with a very humbled Lungu. The trio had taken Lungu’s fears to the man in whose hands Lungu’s destiny had been surrendered by the people of Zambia through the August 12 electoral throbbing.
And so it was! As at 6:00hrs Zambian time, the trio brought the duo together to finalise the safe exit for the outgoing and a smooth transition to usher in the new administration. Both parties emerged from the closed – door meeting with broad smiles and, critically, an extraordinarily successful execution of the African Union mandate of keeping in place Zambia’s enviable record of democracy, peace and stability.
The lesson learnt from the Zambian situation is that society provides its citizens with the ladder to climb as high as they possibly could; but when they stumble; it provides the net to cushion the fall. No doubt, by the force with which Zambians yanked Lungu during the August 12 elections, he would have crash landed from the presidency but for the net provided by the African Union leadership of President Koroma.
This therefore means that when one is up that’s the time to treat those below nicely and with respect because one day you would have to come down. And it’s how well or not you conducted yourself while on top that determines the manner with which you make your way down.