TWO former presidents of Zambia Rupiah Banda and Dr. Kenneth David Kaunda have been described as heroes of Africa, joining Aden Abdullah Osman Daar of Somalia, Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal and Nigeria’s Goodluck Jonathan.
According to the United Kingdom publication, African Leadership Magazine, Mr Banda and Dr. Kaunda were heroes and ranked among the continents top five heroes of democracy.
This is as a result of the manner they have promoted democratic principles of governance by accepting defeat in elections and avoid bloodshed.
Zambia has dominated the five-man list of African heroes of Democracy with founding President Dr Kaunda and fourth President Banda taking a fair share of praise for their statesmanship to hand over power peacefully.
The magazine has also added former Nigerian President Jonathan, who was three days ago defeated in an election by opposition leader Muhammadu Buhari.
The magazine described Dr. Kaunda as a fighter who led a team of young men and women to the struggle for the independence of Zambia from the British and colonial rule.
“ Dr. Kaunda broke away from the African National Congress (ANC) after he was dissatisfied with Harry Mwaanga Nkumbula’s leadership forming his own Zambian African National Congress (ZANC), before becoming the head of the United National Independence Party (UNIP).
“He was the first President of the independent Zambia. From 1968, all political parties except UNIP were banned. At the same time, Dr Kaunda oversaw the acquisition of majority stakes in key foreign-owned companies,” the magazine reads.
The oil crisis of 1973 and a slump in export revenues put Zambia in a state of economic crisis attracting international pressure which finally forced Dr Kaunda to change the rules that had kept him in power.
The magazine also stated that this led to multi-party elections in 1991, in which Dr Frederick Chiluba, the leader of the Movement for Multiparty Democracy, won.
“Dr. Kaunda being the leader of Zambia since independence could have rigged or might have not taken the outcome of the election but surprisingly he stepped down and accepted defeat, shocking the whole world,” he said.
The magazine also said Mr. Banda was a great leader and a promoter of democracy in the manner he handled the election results in 2011 after losing to late president Michael Sata of the Patriotic Front.
“He was appointed as Vice-President by President Levy Mwanawasa in October 2006, following the latter’s re-election. He took over Mwanawasa’s presidential responsibilities after Mwanawasa suffered a stroke in June 2008, and following Mwanawasa’s death in August 2008, he became acting President. As the candidate of the governing MMD, he narrowly won the October 2008 presidential election,” the magazine said. Aden Abdullah Osman Daar was the first president of Somalia who saved that country from July 1, 1960 to June 10, 1967.
In the 1967 presidential election, Daar was defeated by Abdirashid Ali Shermarke, his former prime minister and his term as president ended on June 10, 1967.
Daar accepted the loss graciously, making history as the first head of state in Africa to peacefully hand over power to a democratically elected successor. Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal was fourth on the continent to accept defeat after losing in 2012 in a controversial election and this was after the country’s National Assembly approved a constitutional amendment increasing the length of the presidential term to seven years.
Nigeria’s Jonathan ends the list of African heroes after he accepted defeat to General Bukari early this week.
Prior to his role as President, he served as Governor of Bayelsa State from 2005 to 2007 and as Vice-President of Nigeria from 2007 to 2010.