By Dr. Fredrick Mutesa President, Zambians for Empowerment and Development (ZED)
ENDORSEMENT OF PATRIOTIC FRONT PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE MR. EDGAR CHAGWA LUNGU FOR THE FORTHCOMING 11TH AUGUST 2016 GENERAL ELECTIONS
Many of you countrymen and women will recall that our party, Zambians for Empowerment and Development (ZED), fielded candidates for parliamentary and presidential elections in the September 2011 tripartite elections which brought the PF into office. We had hoped to do the same in this year’s elections, but after assessing the situation on the ground and weighing our own chances, we decided against going ahead. It is our hope that, God willing, our party will be able to field candidates at all levels in the 2021 general elections. In the absence of our own direct participation in next month’s elections, we have carefully scrutinized all the presidential candidates and their running mates to decide who to support. After careful analysis and much prayer, we have reached the conclusion that Zambia’s prospects for national unity, peace and equitable development for the period between 2016 and 2021, are brightest with the continued partnership of President Edgar Chagwa Lungu and Her Honour the vice-president Mrs. Inonge Mutukwa Wina at the helm of the nation. I will now briefly highlight some of the factors we have taken into account in arriving at this decision.
It is a well-known fact that our nation has gone through very difficult economic times, mainly as a result of neglect by past governments and shocks emanating from the global economy. The energy deficit and low prices of copper on the world market, for example, are cases in point. We are, however, satisfied that President Lungu’s pragmatic leadership has staved off the worst effects of these difficulties upon our society. We believe that President Lungu’s government has taken the right measures to invest in new sources of sustainable energy and has pursued the necessary steps to diversify the economy and reduce its vulnerability to future external shocks. These measures have already begun bearing fruit as evidenced in the reduction in power load-shedding hours and appreciation of the kwacha. We have also observed that investor confidence in our economy has remained high, despite the troubles we have gone through. Many firms have nodded the efforts government is making and have chosen to stay and weather the storm in anticipation of an assured turn-around. We believe that with greater effort on fiscal consolidation to restore macroeconomic stability, Zambia’s economy will rebound and attract even more inflows of both domestic and foreign investments. This should create more jobs for our people and raise incomes, as well as contribute to achieving meaningful reduction in poverty.
We have further noted with satisfaction that since President Lungu was elected into office, he has worked round the clock to translate the national motto of one Zambia one nation into reality. This can be seen in the quality of appointments to public office that he has made. One only needs to look at the offices of Vice President, Chief Justice, Attorney General, Bank of Zambia Governor and Inspector General of Police, to mention only a few. The high caliber of the men and women appointed to the newly created Constitutional and Appeals courts, also demonstrate President Lungu’s determination to promote integrity in the dispensation of justice in the nation. Further, in all his appointments, President Lungu has demonstrated heightened sensitivity to ensuring increased women representation in decision-making positions, as well as, involving young people in the running of the affairs of the nation. This is not all. President Lungu has also not discriminated in taking infrastructural development to all parts of the country, including the areas where he did not get majority votes. This is the kind of leader Zambia needs for national unity and equitable development.
With all due respect to Zambia’s past presidents, none of them has matched the political will that President Lungu has demonstrated on constitution-making. Faced with a fresh election awaiting him shortly after the January 20th, 2015 elections that put him in office, many people doubted President Lungu’s resolve to deliver a people driven constitution in accordance with the promise he had made during the campaigns. President Lungu displayed rare courage and honesty in a region where many leaders are busy changing constitutions to prolong their stay in office, despite public protests. President Lungu assented to a constitutional amendment that did not give him any advantage over his opponents. In this, President Lungu showed that he is a selfless leader. This has given hope to citizens that when Zambia needs other constitutional reforms in the future, President Lungu will be a reliable ally. This is one additional reason why we in ZED have also decided to vote yes in the national referendum. We urge all voters to join us and give the yes vote the required numbers to bring this long-delayed and costly exercise to the successful completion that we have all longed for.
RULE OF LAW
We have carefully examined all the allegations leveled against President Lungu that he has been interfering in the operations of the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) and the outcome of court cases. We have not seen any evidence to substantiate these claims. We can only infer that these allegations are stemming from fears by his opponents that are beginning to sense defeat in next month’s elections.
We are one of the political parties that participated in the indaba on political violence organized by the church mother bodies at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross early this year. In that meeting, we carefully observed President Lungu’s conduct and listened to all his answers to questions posed to him. We left the meeting convinced that President Lungu is sincere in wanting to rout violence from Zambian politics. We have since noted that President Lungu has consistently denounced political violence at every available opportunity, without fear or favour. Today, we are happy to note that because of his stance, the police have found fresh courage to begin to courageously combat political violence, regardless of the party affiliation of the perpetrators. There is still a lot to be done to completely stump out this scourge from politics, but we are confident that we are finally on course. What is required is concerted efforts from both the ruling PF and the opposition UPND.
In view of the foregoing, we in ZED would like to state that President Lungu has shown great promise and raised hope concerning the future of Zambia. We are thus fully persuaded that President Lungu’s work ethic and other personal virtues make him the right leader to lead our nation to higher heights. Above all, we have noted with deep satisfaction, President Lungu’s faith in God. He is a man who does not pretend that he has solutions to every human problem. He has demonstrated, with good results, that when the chips are down, he is prepared to lead the people in seeking the face of God for divine intervention in the affairs of our land. A case in point is the declaration of 18th October last year as a national day of prayer and fasting, which many Christians have come to acknowledge as the source of the rains that resulted in Zambia producing a bumper harvest in a region where other nations have experienced a severe drought and crop failures.
President Lungu has also shown that he is a pragmatic leader who is willing to consult and revisit policy positions that, though well-intended, may not be working in the best interest of the nation, like he did when he renegotiated the tax regime with the mining companies and met with the women’s movement to listen to their concerns. It is unsurprising therefore that many Zambians see in President Lungu a leader with their interests at heart, one of their own, someone they can easily identify with and a down to earth leader. This is what makes him a humble leader that many have come to recognize and love. President Lungu with his simplicity and winsome personality engenders goodwill among the majority of Zambians.
We in ZED are convinced that President Edgar Chagwa Lungu’s victory in next month’s elections is certain. We therefore wish to appeal to the voters to turn out in big numbers all over the country to give him a resounding victory in the August 11, 2016 presidential elections, for enhanced national unity, peace and equitable development in our great nation.
I thank you.
God bless President Edgar Chagwa Lungu!
God bless Zambia!