2016 challenging, full of God’s grace

PART of the crowd during President Lungu’s inauguration at National Heroes Stadium in Lusaka.

IT seems just like yesterday when people broke into jubilation, lighting fireworks, drinking, eating, dancing and joyously shouting happy New Year in welcoming the year 2016.
But here we are today again counting down hours, minutes and seconds in anticipation of yet another brand new year – 2017.
Whether it is imaginary or mere perception, when I compare how long it used to take to celebrate a new year in the early eighties and how long it takes now, it’s like God has put time on fast forward mode.
Whether 2017 has come too early or not, the fact is that it is here. It is just a matter of hours before the curtain of time closes to 2016 to open a new chapter of 2017.
As we wind down the year, most of us will remember 2016 for a number of events, some positive and others negative.
Politically the year 2016 presented us with some of the most delicate situations.
Being an election year, the country experienced unprecedented violence before and after elections which led to loss of property, lives and also displacement of some citizens.
For the first time, due to heightened violence, the electoral commission of Zambia was forced to suspend election campaigns in Lusaka and Namwala districts for ten days from July 9 to July 18, 2016.
The year 2016 will no doubt go in the annals of history as a year when the entire country and governance was held hostage by its own laws.
We all remember the limbo we were in as a country when the August 11 presidential election was petitioned. The president was not to be sworn in until the petition was dealt with in the constitutional court as provided for in the amended constitution. For close to a month the country was in a limbo it was not known whether the election was going to be nullified or not.
We also saw intraparty democracy put to test during the adoption of candidates to represent political parties in the August 11 elections. The process in the two major political was deemed unfair and discriminatory leading to unprecedented high number of independent candidates. This subsequently led to the country recording 14 elected independent MPs in the current Parliament, which is a leap from three in the previous one.
This was a lesson to the two major political parties to allow the grassroots have a say in the adoption process.
Legal reforms
In 2016 President Lungu presented Zambians with a new constitution, the change that eluded them for many years.
With the new constitution the position of deputy minister was removed and we also saw the establishment of the constitutional court.
August 11, 2016 election was the first poll to be held under the new constitutional clause which stipulates that a presidential candidate should get over 50 percent of the vote to be declared winner.
We also recall that it was this year when our members of Parliament passed a constitutional clause which stipulates that for one to stand for public office they must possess a grade 12 certificate, not realising that some of them were actually disqualifying themselves. They only realised later when it was time to re-contest for public office.
We hope that in this coming year our lawmakers will take time to thoroughly read and understand all bills presented in the House to make informed decisions.
Economically 2016 was a challenging year for individuals, businesses and Government alike. The challenges were compounded by the fluctuation of copper prices on the international market thereby weakening the Kwacha against the greenback and other currencies. Government struggled to keep the economy afloat amid reduced forex. Mining companies struggled to sustain operations leading to job cuts and closure in some cases.
The power deficit due to reduced water levels at the Kariba dam did not help matters as productivity was affected across all sectors.
Following the continued loss of life through road accidents, 2016 will go down history as the year Government took a decisive and daring step to curb road carnages by banning night travel of public service vehicles, a move which was not well received by the business community and transporters.
Zambians were this year treated to shocking statistics of over 8,500 divorce cases that were recorded between January and September.
This year we also saw gender based violence take a twist where men were killed at the hands of their spouses as compared to the past where women were mostly victims.
It was also a year of strange happenings. In Kabwe police officers were traumatised after coming across a man who was speaking from his belly.
This year we also saw Zambians seek God more. At the height of political violence prior to the elections president Lungu also called for national prayers for God to intervene in the situation and for sure He did. This is why to-date our record for peaceful election transitions remains unbroken.
The silver jubilee of Zambia’s Christian nation declaration which took place yesterday was indeed a befitting way of crowning the year.
We have every reason to thank God for 2016 because despite it being a challenging year God’s grace was sufficient to see us through.
Going by the political, economic and social challenges that befell our country in 2016 one would have thought Zambia had reached its breaking point but by the Grace of God here we are, strong, united and optimistically saying hello to 2017.
The author is Zambia Daily Mail Editorials Editor.



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