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Let democracy reign

THE long-awaited 2023 Summit for Democracy is finally here and as co-hosts let us take pride in our recognition by other countries as an example of a nation that has striven to uphold the tenets of democracy despite the odds. It is undeniable that Zambia has come a long way in fighting for plural politics and this is a momentous occasion that will define the country’s history as a united force entrenched in democracy.
Although the country’s democracy may be viewed as fledgling in comparison with old democracies like co-hosts of the summit United States of America (USA), Zambia has been offered an opportunity to stand tall among the giants. Therefore, it is incumbent upon every citizen to embrace the Summit for Democracy, which will cement our relations with other like-minded nations that cherish peace and unity. As President Hakainde Hichilema joins the USA, Costa Rica, The Netherlands and the Republic of Korea in co-hosting the 2nd Summit for Democracy from March 29 to 30 in Lusaka, we call upon politicians in the opposition to step up to national duty and resist any temptation to discredit the event by protesting in any way. The Summit for Democracy is not meant to prop up the image of the United Party for National Development (UPND) administration as it may be viewed, but it recognises the efforts each political party in Zambia plays in making democracy work. President Hichilema is making efforts to ensure that some laws are amended and brought in tune with the aspirations of effective democracy as evidenced by steps to review the Public Order Act to allow even members of the opposition to freely assemble. He has also made an effort to abolish the controversial death penalty, which has long been considered as an infringement on people’s rights to life.
There is also goodwill from the UPND administration to see to it that the Freedom of Information Bill is enacted. In this vein, every Zambian has a duty to ensure that the Summit for Democracy is held without any incident to allow participants to discuss pertinent issues around all kinds of freedoms that define democracy. Youths should not allow themselves to be used as tools for violence or any form of protests by politicians during the duration of the summit especially that the country is expected to play host to USA Vice-President Kamala Harris.
This is not the time for politicking because any mischief by dissidents will negate the efforts the country has made in building a good image about itself before the outside world.
Citizens should be more focussed on seeing to it that their interests are tabled during the summit. In fact it is a rare opportunity for the people of Zambia to share their experiences and learn from others on how to improve their democracy.
While it is true that a lot still needs to be done to make democracy work in the country, no-one will make it work for us unless we begin to look at things in a rational manner.
So, once again we call upon the opposition to exercise restraint and allow a smooth hosting of the Summit for Democracy.
No-one should deliberately get into trouble with the police and suffer the consequences of misbehaviour after the summit.
There is no need to dare the police to test Zambia’s democratic credentials before the outside world. We wish our visitors and those who will virtually participate in the event good health.