HEARTY congratulations to President Edgar Chagwa Lungu and the Patriotic Front on winning the 2016 general election after one of the closest election contests in Zambia’s living memory.
No wonder Mulungushi International Conference Centre where the results were being announced and the whole country exploded into a frenzy of joy and relief. And hundreds of PF supporters suddenly converged on State House grounds to congratulate their hero.
Zambians received the announcement by Electoral Commission of Zambia chairperson and presidential election returning officer Mr Justice Esau Chulu that President Lungu had won with jubilation and great relief.
Reports around the country indicate the PF win was well received in Lusaka and all provincial towns with Solwezi residents joining the PF in a victory march in the town centre. It was indeed a triumph worthy celebrating.
For four days Zambians waited, fidgeted and scratched their heads as the ECZ results centre released the presidential figures in drips and drops. It was agonising. But true to their pedigree Zambians accepted their fate and waited and waited.
When the results were finally announced, you could slice a knife through the tension. It was such a tight, nail-biting, intriguing contest. It was so close – Lungu’s 1,860,877 against Hakainde Hichilema’s 1,760,347. Just 100,530 votes separating them.
But President-elect Lungu’s numbers were enough. He has secured his re-election as Zambia’s sixth President by a 50.352 percent threshold. He only needed one vote over the 50 percent to win.
As Zambians prepare to inaugurate their newly-elected President, our expectation is that ALL Zambians will join the PF in their celebrations because their victory is OUR victory. The majority have spoken and we can only feel proud that our democratic experiment is working for ALL of us.
After one of the bitterest election contests Zambians have ever seen, it may be understandable for the losers to feel disappointed. But then that is what competition entails: there has to be a winner and loser, otherwise there is no contest.
We equally congratulate UPND president Hakainde Hichilema on being such a good contender. He battled all the way to the finishing line – and lost by a whisker.
UPND and Mr Hichilema have nothing to be bitter or ashamed about. Zambians respect and admire them for giving the ruling PF a good run for their money. They came out of this election worn out, fatigued and unsteady on their feet but proud that they nearly carried the day.
As such UPND supporters and leadership have no reason to resort to illegal means of expressing their disappointment at having lost again. There is no need for them to go into the streets to protest. No-one has stolen their vote. They have only been beaten by a better opponent this time around.
They only need to go back to the drawing board, review their performance and find out where they may have gone wrong. It is true the Electoral Commission of Zambia machinery may not have been 100 percent up to scratch but this election has been free, fair, transparent, credible and beyond reproach.
The ECZ has been under a powerful world microscope since day one of the election process. At least five most distinguished international observer missions, including those from the European Union, the Carter Center of the United States and African Union, were here to watch over the proceedings.
And all of them gave Zambia the ‘A+’ rating as a nascent democracy.
After we wind down the victory celebrations and get down to work, we can also pat ourselves on the back that we are good learners of democracy.
At least the 2016 general election was such a resounding success.