Michael Sata is President of Zambia. Many have rejoiced at the news and many have received it with mixed feelings; some are outright horrified. But then politics does tend to engender the whole spectrum of emotions. Setting aside personalities, let’s reflect for a moment at what has just happened in Zambia and the background to it.
For those of us who may not have the facts at our fingertips, Zambia gained independence from its colonial masters in 1964. It was a multi-party democratic election process and Kenneth Kaunda was voted in as President, with UNIP as the ruling party. Zambia became a one party state in 1972. In 1991, in keeping with the political climate of the day and in response to pressure from outside investors, it returned to a multi-party democracy. MMD rose to power, with Frederick Chiluba as President. In 2001, after Chiluba had enjoyed two terms of office as president, MMD retained power under the leadership of Levy Mwanwasa. After Mr Mwanawasa’s untimely death in 2008, Rupiah Banda was elected as President, a position he retained until last week. Now, after 20 years under MMD, Zambia has a new party in power, the Patriotic Front, with Michael Sata at the helm.
Throughout these last 47 years we see a state evolving and maturing, a nation blossoming and growing, despite hard knocks, despite major setbacks, and yes despite serious flaws.
Not perfect by any means. But evolving nevertheless. Two statesmen have graciously handed over power to another party — Kenneth Kaunda and now Rupiah Banda. I commend them for that. Michael Sata releases a white dove during his swearing in ceremony — a symbol of peace. I commend him for that.
As I write this article, President Sata has announced his government, with Guy Scott as his Vice President. This makes Zambia, as far as I am aware, the first African country to have a white Vice President within a democratically-elected government. Again commendation is due. There are valid concerns about lack of representation within the Cabinet — too many Bembas and too many men. But then the Zambian democracy is still maturing. I pray that Zambia, the promising child, may mature into adulthood prosperous, principled and powerful.
Picture from the London Evening Telegraph.