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Thousands witness historical constitution-signing ceremony

JACK ZIMBA, Heroes Stadium, Lusaka
HISTORY was made yesterday when President Lungu signed the Constitutional Amendment bill number 17, allowing Zambia to have a new constitution.
The President appended his signature to the document at an event that was characterised by pomp and military ceremony, including a fly-past by the Zambia Air Force and a 21-gun salute by the Zambia Army.
The event, which was held at the National Heroes Stadium, was witnessed by about 20,000 people from a cross-section of society, with some travelling from outside Lusaka.
Thousands of other residents who could not make it to the stadium lined the 15km route that the President took from State House.
Riding in a jungle green military open-top Land Rover Defender, the President made a grand entry into the stadium at 14:10 hours.
The President and his wife, Ester Lungu, waved to cheering crowds as the motorcade drove around to a marque specially erected and decorated for the event.
He was then escorted to the saluting dais by men and women performing a traditional song and dance.
Mr Lungu was clad in a white mandarin collar jacket and black trousers, with his wife following the same colour code.
The President had a pensive and thoughtful look as he inspected a guard of honour mounted by the army, perhaps in introspection of the huge task ahead of him – changing the course of the nation.
Mr Lungu must by now have become familiar with National Heroes Stadium having been there for his inauguration over a year ago, and for a number of events afterwards, including football matches, but there was nothing familiar about today’s occasion.
There were intermittent eruptions from the crowd, with some people shouting the President’s name, but he seemed undistracted by it all.
At one point, the stadium was filled with a deafening mixture of sounds from the jubilating crowds, which were only drowned by the roar of the K-8 fighter jets flying in formation overhead, followed by two Mi-17 military helicopters.
Moments before the national document was handed over to Justice Minister Ngosa Simbyakula, the sound of the namalwa drum reverberated across the stadium, with a man singing poetic praise to the President in Lenje.
There was no departure from the written script as the President delivered his speech in which he thanked all the people who were involved in the constitution-making process, including his predecessors.
There was an air of excitement in the stadium as the President signed on the documents, with his signature captured on the giant screen.
At exactly 15:40 hours, the President raised the new Constitution to cheering crowds, with dozens of photographers and journalists jostling to capture the momentous moment.
The President later released four white doves and several red, orange, black and green balloons that floated over the stadium – a symbolic gesture that will linger in the minds of those present for many years to come.
And in a show of brotherhood and oneness, the President hugged Nevers Mumba, president of the MMD, who was among a number of opposition political party leaders present.
The event was punctuated by performances from various artistes, including Amayenge and JK.

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