THE message by former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo to United Party for National Development (UPND) president Hakainde Hichilema is clear – he must accept last year’s election results and look to the future.
Mr Obasanjo, who was President of Nigeria on two occasions, is concerned that about one year after the general elections were held, Mr Hichilema, the main opposition leader, has not accepted the outcome of the election that President Lungu cleanly won.
His mission, we were told, was simply to come and have a conversation with the incarcerated UPND leader to advise him to accept last year’s results.
He came to draw Mr Hichilema’s attention to various issues regarding the need to uphold peace, unity and stability in the country.
The former Nigerian President, who arrived in the country on Saturday, first held closed-door talks with President Lungu before being flown by the Zambia Air Force to Mukobeko Maximum Security Facility to visit Mr Hichilema.
It is our hope that the incarcerated UPND leader will heed Mr Obasanjo’s friendly and objective advice to accept the August 11, 2016 election results.
It is only prudent for Mr Hichilema to move on and plan for the future instead of holding on to the past pain of genuinely losing an election.
It is evident that the way Mr Hichilema has handled his loss in the last general election is not good for himself, his supporters and the country as a whole.
He needs to come to terms with the loss and this will help his supporters to do the same.
We know that some of the members of the opposition and their allies have been painting the country black in the eyes of the international community.
They have been sending out messages portraying Zambia as politically unstable when in fact not. They have painted the country as a dictatorship even when they know that Zambia is one of Africa’s most flourishing democracies. Zambia has been and continues to be the envy of many.
Those who have no opportunity to come to Zambia or interact with objective Zambians to get the correct picture are stuck with this wrong perception that Zambia is on ‘fire’.
With the recent invocation of Article 31 of the Zambian constitution declaring a state of threatened emergency, some unpatriotic Zambians have been in the forefront misinforming the international world that President Lungu has declared a state of emergency.
Nevertheless, the truth of the matter is that President Lungu has only made a proclamation of a situation that may lead to a state of public emergency. The declared state of threatened emergency is meant to allow the President to give the police more powers to enhance security.
Under a threatened state of emergency (Article 31 of the constitution), the powers invoked are those under the Preservation of Public Security Act whilst under a state of emergency (Article 30), the powers invoked are under the Emergency Powers Act.
This is a fact that even those spreading falsehoods fully understand but as is the case with all doomsayers, they twist facts to suit their own selfish ends.
As the situation stands now, Zambians across the country are free to go about their day-to-day activities contrary to the fears of some prophets of doom.
Zambia has been an attraction to many heads of state in the past few months. It is worth noting that no foreign head of state would go to a country that is a dictatorship.
It is good that Mr Obasanjo, instead of relying on international media falsehoods on what is happening in the country, decided to come in person to interact with both the incumbent and the main opposition leader.
We are also pleased that Mr Obasanjo has seen for himself the political stability the country is currently enjoying.
It is also hoped that his visit will build momentum from where the Catholic bishops who visited the opposition leader left.
We also commend President Lungu for allowing the African statesman to meet him as well as the UPND leader.
This is evidence that President Lungu is ready to dialogue – as the case has always been – for the greater good of the country, including those whose preoccupation is to poison the mind of the international community.