LUSAKA – Outgoing Zambian President Edgar Lungu has conceded defeat and committed to hand over power peacefully.
In a brief televised national address on Monday, Lungu congratulated president-elect Hakainde Hichilema and committed to a peaceful transfer of power.
“I want to thank you the Zambian people for giving me the opportunity to be your president. I will forever cherish and appreciate the authority you vested in me.
’’All I ever wanted to do was to serve my country to the best of my abilities. Together with you, we did score in many areas.
“We held our general elections on Thursday and the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) has released the final results. Based on the ECZ results, I will comply with the constitutional provisions for peaceful transitions of power.
’’I would therefore congratulate my brother the president-elect, his excellency Mr Hakainde Hichilema for becoming the seventh republican president,” he said.
Hichilema won the presidential election with a huge margin, beating Lungu by a million votes. He obtained 2810 757 votes against Lungu’s 1 814 201.
United Party for National Development (UPND) leader Hichilema ran in five previous presidential elections and lost. This was his sixth attempt at the presidency.
Going into the general election, both Hichilema and Lungu were confident of a resounding victory, Hichilema said he was expecting at least 4.7 million people to vote for him in his promise to ’’fix’’ the country. Lungu, on the other hand, said he was going to win by at least 500 000 votes.
Opposition parties in South Africa, Namibia and Botswana have welcomed Hichilema’s victory.
McHenry Venaani, the president of the Popular Democratic Movement, the opposition party in Namibia, said the victory was historic.
“We wish you well in the journey of transformation of Zambia,” he wrote on his Twitter account.
Dumelang Saleshando, leader of the Botswana Congress Party, said Zambian people have used their vote to transfer political power from one party to another.
“This is not a common development in southern Africa. Transfer of power through the vote is a critical feature of a mature democracy,” he wrote on his Facebook page.
He said despite losing five times in presidential elections, Hichilema did not give up.
John Steenhuisen of the Democratic Alliance (DA) said Hichilema’s victory was an incredible triumph as he endured incarceration, intense deprivation and torture at the hands of the Edgar Lungu-led government.
“Zambian voters came out in great numbers on Thursday to show that peaceful democratic change is possible in Africa and in the South African Development Community region.
“They have shown that Africans are more than capable of using their vote to hold bad leaders accountable at the ballot box.
’’And they have decisively rejected the notion that Africans are forever beholden to outdated liberation movement political parties that turn the state into an extraction machine for the connected few.”
African News Agency (ANA)