I don’t think that anyone can ever doubt that I was ever a PF supporter, Michael Sata as a president didn’t really speak to me, and less so when I found out that he wanted to build underground trains (in a country with a questionable road network). It’s not personal, in fact Joel Sata, his son, is someone I’ve known for a long time and who I thought of as a friend.
The last two days have been really tense, marked with some violence, as the election results had been trickling through. Sata was in the lead from the start, but people remembered all too well this same lead from 2008, when things drastically changed to give MMD a win. But not this time. Sata remained in the lead until the early hours of yesterday morning when he was declared the winner by more than 200,000 lead over incumbent MMD president Rupiah Banda.
Today, well actually since about 1am, there has been celebrations on the street, with people hooting and honking their car horns, waving flags, dancing in the streets and joyous shouts. It really looked like a country that had just been liberated.
I’m still not sure about PF as a party or President Sata to really take this country forward and develop the nation in a way that benefits all the people, but I’m willing to give him a chance – though the next 90 days will be crucial for him as he did campaign that change would happen in 90 days.
Change. That was what this election boiled down to. People wanted change. However, despite there being 10 presidential candidates, the fight for the presidential crown was fought between two candidates – PF’s Michael Sata and MMD’s Rupiah Banda. But what exactly was the change that people wanted? I asked a few PF supporters and all they could say to answer my question was change.
Turns out that they (and I’m being specific about the ones I spoke to, not all PF supporters) were more concerned with getting MMD out at all costs, and that was change. Not necessarily better education, better healthcare, increase employment opportunities, decreased tax and other issues that elections should be concerned with. In fact when further pressed it turned out that they hadn’t even read PF’s manifesto, so not even sure they know what they’re getting themselves into.
To be fair, I haven’t read PF’s manifesto, so it could be really great. I did hear – and I must verify it – that they want to build underground trains, I know I keep going on about this, but it really does bother me that that should be in a party’s manifesto with only one five-year term to prove themselves!
But three things in this election have really stood out for me that I’m really proud of:
1) The amazing amount of people that turned out to vote. We had 80% of all eligible voters registered to vote, making it around 5 million people that were registered to vote (there are about a total of 6.5million eligible voters in Zambia). Unfortunately, it ended up being only about 35 or 40% of those that actually voted. But still a huge number compared to previous years – let’s not forget RB came in to power with over 800,000 votes. Sata received over 1.5million votes! And that only represents 43% of the votes cast, counted and verified. (later found out that actually more people came out to vote in 2006 then in this year, despite increased registration of eligible voters)
2) The new comer, Elias Chipimo and his NAREP party, first time in the race came in 5th among all the 10 contenders. Huge feat for someone so young and relatively unknown.
3) RB conceded defeat and even showed up for President Sata’s inauguration. This is a marked change from many other leaders in Africa, look at our neighbours in Zimbabwe, and more recently what happened in Cote D’voire. It really showed RB’s leadership qualities – despite the many faults he’s had in office, as well as how democracy can work in Africa (ok I have my reservations on that one, maybe I should qualify a type of democracy!)
So I might not be on the streets dancing with jubilation, and I still stand by the fact that President Sata is yet again in power with the minority vote (not sure why people can’t see that actually more people voted against him than for him, so we should not be saying the masses have spoken – maybe the organised masses!), but he is in power and we want our country to develop so it’s for all of us to step up and hold him accountable. And he too shall be judged in five years, so he needs to make these next five years count!
But since peace in the country is back (not that it was really gone, but it was on the edge), that’s really the most important thing.