Opposition victory in Zambia polls

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Michael Sata (73), Zambia’s opposition leader popularly known as “King Cobra”, has won the presidential election, ending two decades of rule by the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD).

Sata, leader of the Patriotic Front party, on Friday had an unassailable 1 150 045 votes, 43% of the total, while incumbent Rupiah Banda of the MMD managed 961 796, which amounted to 36% of the vote after 95% of constituencies were counted.

Sata was duly declared the winner by Ireen Mambilima, chairwoman of the Electoral Commission, and Zambia’s Chief Justice Ernest Sakala.

Banda accepted defeated, saying: “The people of Zambia have spoken and we must all listen.”
He said Zambia’s independence and democracy was secured with blood and should be respected and appealed for maturity, composure and compassion

“Speaking for myself and my party, we will accept the results. We are a democratic party and we know no other way. It is not for us to deny the Zambian people. We never rigged, we never cheated, we never

knowingly abused State funds,” he said. “We simply did what we thought was best for Zambia. I hope the next government will act likewise in years to come. Zambia deserves a decent democratic process. Indeed, Zambia must build on her past victories.

“Our independence was hard won, our democracy secured with blood. Zambia must not go backwards, we must all face the future and go forward as one nation. Not to do so would dishonour our history.”

Banda urged his party members to work hard so that they would be victorious in the next elections. He said the MMD had campaigned well and covered all parts of the country, but he accepted that the time for change had come.

“The MMD will be back. We must all face the reality that sometimes it is time for change. Since 1991, the MMD has been in power. I believe we have done a good job on behalf of all Zambians,” he said.

“Frederick Chiluba led us to a genuine multi-party State and introduced the private sector to our key industries. Zambia was liberated by an MMD ideal, but maybe we became complacent with our ideals. Maybe we did not listen, maybe we did not hear.

“Did we become grey and lacking in ideas? Did we lose momentum? Our duty now is to go away and reflect on any mistakes we may have made and learn from them. If we do not, we do not deserve to contest power again.

“My generation, the generation of the independence struggle, must now give way to new ideas; ideas for the 21st century. From this defeat, a new, younger MMD will be reborn. If I can serve that rebuilding, then I will.”

Banda urged civil servants and government officials to serve the new government well and said he wanted the country to keep growing.

“In my years of retirement, I hope to watch Zambia grow. I genuinely want Zambia to flourish. We should all want Zambia to flourish.

“So, I congratulate Michael Sata on his victory,” he said.

“I have no ill feeling in my heart, there is no malice in my words. I wish him well in his years as president.”