There is a wise African saying which says, “Kugara nhaka, kuona dzevamwe”, which roughly translates to that, we learn from copying the good ways of others.
In his 27 years of office as President of Zambia, President Kenneth David Kaunda did countless good things and, indeed, like all mortals, he made many mistakes.
But, on losing elections in a democratic process, and facing the spectre of an unfamiliar and uncertain future as a private citizen, he still made the right choices, conceded defeat, gracefully bowed down to the will of the people and left State House.
By such simple, but painful gesture, President Kaunda conquered stereotypical African frailty and set Zambia on a culture and trajectory of peaceful transition.
While he still held the power of incumbency and the awesome state machinery firmly and solidly in his hands and could have easily suborned powerful institutional elites to help him continue in office, against popular will, Kaunda elected to do the unusual thing in Africa, accepting to leave office.
By so doing, the loser in an election became the winner in the bigger picture and scheme of things, in Zambia, the region, Africa and the world at large.
Today, President Kaunda joins the eminent persons’ “Hall of Fame” of the giants of history, respected throughout the world.
He now stands as a colossus on the international stage, whose treasured advice and assistance is priceless and is requested every now and again to use his silos of experience in helping others. Sometimes we have to forego narrow, selfish personal ambitions in the interest of the greater good of our nations.
Dr Kaunda received glowing commendation from friends throughout the world. Members of the Central Joint Operations Committee (Service Chiefs) of Zambia, thus wrote;
“Dr K D Kaunda,
We, as members of the Central Joint Operations Committee (CJOC) wish to express our sincere thanks and gratitude over the able manner you handled the situation in the country, particularly, during the trying period of transition.
“Sir, as you leave office, we, the service chiefs, wish to inform you that we greatly benefited and will continue to cherish the guidance and rich wisdom that you provided as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces.
“Sir, your exemplary personal conduct and untiring efforts to improve the dignity and welfare of mankind has and will continue to be a source of admiration and inspiration among all the peoples in the world.
Zambia will forever remain a proud nation. As Service Chiefs, we will particularly remember your personal interest in the welfare of men and officers in the Defence and Security Forces. Indeed, you will forever be remembered for having made the Defence and Security organizations what they are to-day, disciplined organisations which are source of envy, not only in the region but the world as a whole.
Sir, as you leave office, we would like to wish you and family good health and success in your future endeavours and hope that the country will continue to benefit from your immense experience and wisdom. To this effect, we would like to pledge our loyalty to the cause of the nation to which you have committed your entire life. It is our hope that the country will continue to enjoy the peace and stability that has prevailed during your time as President of the Republic of Zambia and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces.
“We have the honour to be your obedient servants.
H C Kamima
Lt Gen E G Sibamba
Lt Gen H C Simutowe Maj Gen D S Zulu
Z.Siakalima E. J. Chimfumpa”
.Source: Kenneth David Kaunda (Perspectives on His exit From Office) by Tiyaonese Chisanga Kabwe.
Africa must thank Dr Kaunda and the then Zambian Service Chiefs and State institutions for staying on the course of legitimacy and contributing to peace in our region.
Admirable thing done by Dr Kaunda and the Service chiefs. Could this be a lesson for Zimbabwe?
Your guess is as good as mine.
Just yesterday outgoing US ambassador to Zimbabwe Charles Ray reminded me that power corrupts and is hard to let go and when you hang onto it a bit longer without an alternative after occupying hot posts in any institution, the harder it is to relinquish.
.Brian Mangwende is the Group Associate Editor of Alpha Media Holdings Private Ltd. Feedback: email@example.com