Stand and sing of Zambia, proud and free!

THE just-ended general elections have, once again, enhanced Zambia’s credentials as a country in a league of the very best of nations when it comes to change of government through the ballot and a smooth transition of leadership at the national level.
Many of whom now rest in the dust, the liberation heroes and heroines would be proud of the strides Zambia has made. Our democracy is getting stronger – a
marvel to many. What shall we say?
The founders of our Republic and Framers of our National AAnthem would burst into song: Stand and Sing of Zambia, Proud and Free!
Stand and Sing of Zambia’s 18 million-strong army of citizens who form a wondrous tapestry of rich and diverse cultures. Diverse, yet united in purpose; peaceful but
as sharply decisive as a surgeon’s blade; a God-fearing people.
Stand and sing of a united and peace-loving people who form mighty Zambia – named after the Zambezi River. Small at its source in the Kalene Hills of
North-Western Zambia, its many tributaries of all sizes transform the Zambezi into one of the magnificent rivers of Africa. So is Zambia, mightier when all its people come together.
Three times Zambian voters have exercised their right to vote, changed government peacefully, and demonstrated that the streets
wouldn’t do when they desire change, but that the ballot will. That is the democratic way.
Again, Stand and Sing of Zambia!
Tell of the three times of smooth transfer of power! This smooth transfer defines a functioning liberal democracy, and Zambia has made its mark on the continent and the globe.
We doff our hats to now-former President Edgar Lungu for a graceful and dignified departure from office.
Zambia has a lesson or two to teach the world.
We salute now-President Hakainde Hichilema, the new Captain of the Ship of State and wish him much success. Should “HH” or Bally, as he is fondly called, and his team succeed, the
country will have moved many strides not only further down its democratic path but would have enhanced and advanced its development agenda as well. Again, Stand and Sing of Zambia!
Often vilified, the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) showcased incredibly transparent and credible general elections with the backdrop of COVID-19, a menacing pandemic.
Moreover, they delivered the results within the timeframe they set for themselves. Many poll staff gave their best to achieve this
feat – a shining example for many countries and electoral bodies across the globe. In addition, the men and women in uniform kept the peace while upholding the rights of citizens. Again, Stand and Sing of Zambia!
Now that the elections are over, we return to our neighbourhoods and communities as one people
facing challenges and scoring triumphs together. Despite what politics seem to suggest, especially towards elections, we’ve always been one and stronger together after all.
It has been the case since independence in 1964 – a country at peace with itself and its eight neighbours.
This peace must continue as we develop this beautiful land, all 752,000 square kilometres of it, so endowed with vast resources to better the lives of its people; better the lives enough to dwarf even some more developed countries.
Again, Stand and Sing of Zambia!
In the words of Seth Godin, author and entrepreneur, change is not a threat, it’s an opportunity.
Change of government presents new hopes and opportunities for all.
For the next five years, it is time for the current team to hold the reins of leadership, steer the ship of State and raise the standards of governance even higher.
May the United Party for National Development (UPND)-led Government inspire the citizens’ ingenuity to reach their Godgiven potential. That they must do. The thousands of people who packed Heroes Stadium and the many that lined up in the streets
on inauguration day demonstrated goodwill to the new team and expressed significantly high expectations.
For us at the Dag Hammarskjöld Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies at the Copperbelt University, we look forward to increased opportunities to build
sustainable peace, meaningful dialogue and coexistence among political competitors, good governance, and greater human security in all its facets. For the
ordinary citizen, it’s about the bread and butter issues, at the very minimum.
But since bread and butter are not the staples of Zambians, perhaps we should more appropriately refer to mealie meal and relish.
Sadly, we must also make mention and grieve the needless loss of life during the election period.
Going forward, we should aim to do better so that we can truly Stand and Sing, even more lustily, of Zambia proud and free! As the new Parliamentarians prepare to take their positions, it is worth restating Schattschneider’s (1942) longstanding thesis that without political parties, modern democracy would beunattainable. Kura (2007) extended the argument by asserting that even non-democratic regimes cannot do without political parties.
So central, therefore, are political parties to the consolidation of democracy that their absence or weakness will inevitably undermine democracy. More than just the
number of political parties, their stability and strength will guarantee the consolidation of a robust democracy.
In our case, the tables have turned in that the new party in opposition with independents, quite formidable numerically, will be a critical and necessary voice to holding the UNDP-led government to accountand spurring the Executive Arm of Government to deliver on its promises.
In so doing, may Zambia’s democracy continue to thrive so that, we can continue to Stand and Sing of Zambia, Proud and Free!
The author is an associate professor with Dag Hammarskjold Institute for peace and Conflict Studies (DHIPS) at CopperbeltUniversity

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