President Uhuru Kenyatta was among the ten (10) African Heads of State and Government at the inauguration of Zambia’s new President Hakainde Hichilema in Lusaka.
Hichilema, 59, was sworn in as the 7th President of the Southern Africa nation alongside his Vice President Mrs Mutale Nalumango at a ceremony held at the National Heroes Stadium by Zambia’s acting Chief Justice Michael Musonda.
In his inauguration speech, President Hichilema said his administration will give equal opportunity to all Zambians, and pledged to ensure all citizens enjoy their freedoms as guaranteed by the constitution.
“I am a simple village boy you have made the 7th President. This victory is for all Zambians, especially the youth who came out in great numbers to vote. We showed the whole world the resilience of our democracy” President Hichilema said.
The new Zambian leader said his government will in the first five years focus on restoring macroeconomic stability, debt sustainability and ensure no Zambian goes to bed hungry.
“We will focus on inclusion and not exclusion; unity and not division; and gathering and not a scattering of our people,” President Hichilema promised.
He pointed out that the peaceful election and transfer of power had demonstrated Zambia’s strong democratic credentials to the world.
“We have shown the whole world the resilience of democracy, the people have decided it was time for change and we can say change is here,” he said.
Leaders who spoke at the colourful event commended Zambians for the peaceful elections saying the smooth transfer of power had demonstrated Africa’s ability to manage its affairs.
President Felix Tshisekedi of the Democratic Republic of Congo who is also the African Union (AU) Chairperson, and President Lazarus Chakwera of Malawi who is the current Chairman of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) spoke on behalf of visiting Heads of State and Government and commended Zambians for the peaceful elections.
President Tshisekedi assured the new Zambian Head of State of AU’s support as he takes over the leadership of his country and congratulated the Zambians for upholding democracy.
President Chakwera said the Zambian polls had demonstrated that democracy in Africa was maturing noting that the country had distinguished herself as a beacon of constitutionalism.
“This is the triumph of the African spirit, the embodiment of Africa we want and Africa we know ourselves to be…This Zambian story is a positive story that Africa is no longer an infant, Africa has shown the spirit of unity and maturity,” the Malawi President said.
Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo who represented the panel of eminent African elders said Zambia had shown that Africa is now mature and that it is possible to have a peaceful transition of power from one political party to another.
Other leaders at the ceremony, also attended by Kenya’s former Prime Minister Raila Odinga and Infrastructure Cabinet Secretary James Macharia were Presidents Hage Geingob (Namibia), Filipe Nyusi (Mozambique) and Emmerson Mnangagwa (Zimbabwe).
South Africa’s Cyril Ramaphosa, Mokgweetsi Masisi (Botswana), Samia Suluhu (Tanzania) and King Mswati III of the Kingdom of Eswatini also attended.