President Hage Geingob has hailed Zambia’s democracy, saying the people gave the newly elected leadership a strong mandate to steer the country to greater heights. Geingob yesterday attended the swearing-in of Zambia’s newly elected president Hakainde Hichilema.
Hichilema was inaugurated in Lusaka at a ceremony that was also attended by the leader of the official opposition Popular Democratic Movement (PDM), McHenry Venaani, who embarked on the about 1 900km journey by road. Zambia’s second female vice president Mutale Nalumango was also sworn in during the ceremony.
Hichilema defeated Edgar Lungu in a landslide by almost one million votes at his sixth attempt at becoming ruler of Zambia. “The people of Zambia, who are the ultimate sovereigns, exercised their democratic right to give your Excellency and the United Party for National Development (UPND) a strong mandate to steer Zambia to greater heights. We have witnessed a unique occurrence in Zambian politics, with this being the second time a ruling party is replaced at the polls,” Geingob said in a statement prepared for the occasion.
“This represents what I refer to as the third wave of African leadership, which is focused on instilling strong democratic principles and enhancing governance by strengthening processes, systems and institutions.”
Geingob said the fact that Zambians are able to hold free, fair and peaceful elections to choose who they wish to govern them is indicative of the entrenchment of solid democratic principles in Zambia, and a credit to the entire Southern African Development Community (SADC).
“At this juncture, I wish to commend my brother, former president Edgar Lungu, for exhibiting wise statesmanship by being magnanimous in defeat and ensuring a smooth transfer of power,” he added.
He said this indeed is a welcoming patriotic and pan-Africanist gesture, which the present and future Zambian generations will be proud of – and which many others across the African and global continents will emulate.
“I wish you well in all your future endeavours. My brother, president Hichilema, as you embark upon your new mandate, I wish to reaffirm my personal commitment and that of the Namibian government to continue building on the strong bonds of friendship and solidarity that exist between our countries and peoples,” Geingob told the incoming president.
He noted the two countries’ relations have stood the test of time.
“Zambia hosted and provided all-round diplomatic, political and material assistance to many Namibians during our liberation struggle,” he said, adding that he looks forward to working closely with Hichilema to further strengthen the two countries’ bilateral cooperation for their mutual benefit, as well as advancing the regional integration agenda.
In his inaugural address, Hichilema vowed to restore respect for human rights and liberties eroded under his predecessor. “We showed the world the resilience of our democracy,” he stated. “We will grow our economy so we can lift more people out of poverty than ever before,” the 59-year-old Hichilema told Zambians at the Heroes Stadium in Lusaka.