Raila Odinga former Kenyana Prime Minister

Now is the time for African democrats to speak out, writes former Kenyan prime minister Raila Odinga

Last August politicians across the Continent watched with mounting concern as the drama surrounding the elections in Zambia unfolded. Without doubt the election result was close; many alleged it was stolen.

Last week, Hakainde Hichilema (HH), the leader of the main opposition party, the UPND, was arrested on charges of treason and so far, both the African and the wider international response have been muted.

Now is the time for African democrats to speak out.

The run up to the 2016 Zambian elections were acknowledged by election monitors to have been lopsided.

President Edgar Lungu’s Patriotic Front used state resources to support their cause, shut down media outlets, and deliberately disrupt the opposition campaign.

Even the EU election-observation mission noted that “the campaign period was marred by systematic bias in state media, which failed to provide fair and equitable coverage of the campaigns of all parties, limiting the possibility for voters to make an informed choice.”

Then once voting was over, the counting started to slow and numerous allegations of vote-rigging and tampering emerged.

When the result was finally announced Lungu won by just 16,000 votes.

The UPND appealed to the constitutional court which eventually sat, first it postponed the hearing, and then, with a decision that defies justice, decided that the appeal was out of time and did not even consider the case.

There could easily been violent protests but the UPND, keen to play by the rules, kept their supporters in check despite the widespread feeling of electoral theft. They still do not accept the result then, and many still do not today.

Now popular discontent with both the result and the very challenging economic circumstances faced by Zambia is on the rise.

Thus, in some respects it is unsurprising that last Tuesday the Zambian Police launched an aggressive assault on HH’s family compound using excessive violence, including CS gas, against his both his family and his employees.

HH has now been detained, is charged with treason, and has been denied proper access to both his legal team and his family.

The pretext for this was a traffic incident involving the presidential motorcade: treason for a traffic incident – this speaks of vengeance not justice.

Frankly, the international response has been weak. Both the EU and the US have issued statements but in reality, are fixed on other more pressing international problems and will only up their engagement if stability appears threatened, which is a dangerous position to take.

Ruling parties don’t go easily, even when they lose. We know about this in Kenya, with the last two national elections in 2007 and 2013 the subject of rigging and, in the case of the former, extreme violence.

For these reasons we continue to urge critical engagement by Africa and the international community well before, during and after the polls.

Still, Afrobarometer records that democracy is the style of government that the vast majority of Africans want.

This is no surprise. Democracy has proven best at delivering both the economic growth and the stability we need, particularly as we face the challenges that stem from rapid population growth.

At its heart democracy is about a competition of ideas and it is that healthy competition that drives long-term, improved performance.

The idea that one man and one party knows best and that all alternatives should be repressed has, throughout history, proven a disastrous route to follow.

We Africans need to stand up and be counted when democracy is under threat on our continent, whether it’s in Zambia, Zimbabwe, the Congo or my own country Kenya.

It is our destiny that is at stake. We need to be clear about what we want and what we will no longer put up with. The costs of doing nothing are huge.

What has been happening in Zambia must not pass without comment.  It is a direct assault on Zambia’s democratic traditions and a stain on the continent’s record.

It has long-term costs for Zambians and other Africans alike.

That much, too, should be recognised by those international actors and donors who profess to hold African development dear.

But the onus is on African politicians everywhere to speak out. When they don’t, their populations should be asking why not?

I would urge those in power in Zambia to take a step back from the brink and move back onto the path of democratic progress while they still can, before irreversible damage is done.

Quickly releasing HH would be a good first step for the cause of democracy in Zambia and Africa.

Odinga is the former Prime Minister of Kenya and current Leader of opposition

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68 COMMENTS

  1. Donald Trump is absolutely correct. Africa needs recolonisation and to wh!ip those black a$$es with shamboks again!

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    • Totally agree with you. The reason why democracy has failed in Africa is that black by nature do not respect rules and regulation. They only respect rules when they are ruled.

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    • Wasn’t HH inciting his supporters to rise against the government after the petition was thrown out rather than the lies Odinga is trying to peddle that HH restrained his supporters?Odinga is naturally a liar……..in an interview with BBC News in January 2008, Odinga asserted that he was the first cousin of U.S. president Barack Obama through Obama’s father.However, Barack Obama’s paternal uncle denied any direct relation to Odinga, stating “Odinga’s mother came from this area, so it is normal for us to talk about cousins. But he is not a blood relative.”

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    • Dear Mr Odinga, you will appreciate Zambia’s situation if you take your own case in Kenya where the Kikuyus do not think that a Luo can ever rule Kenya. It is the same here in Zambia where Bembas are willing to carry out rigging and extreme violence to ensure that a Tonga person never rules.

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    • How come all these statements sound like they were authored by UPND with unverified claims. A ref to ‘a decision of concourt that defies justice’, ‘loss of election by UPND by only 16000 votes’, etc, all defy logic & language of a statesman. These statements are also being made while court case is running & LT is allowing itself to be used. Is it too much to check with Mr Odinga or others whether they really made such statements? I think the statements are ill advised & may actually influence the courts pass judgment which works against UPND.

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    • True son of Africa and principled man. Not these other fake chaps. Please sir use your influence to get the SADC ready to remove Lungu if he refuses for the petition to be heard. Its time we have a President who goes through the legal channel of doing things.

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    • The shining light Zambia carried has dimmed and is getting dimmer by the day! Odinga advises,

      “I would urge those in power in Zambia to take a step back from the brink and move back onto the path of democratic progress while they still can, before irreversible damage is done.”

      Lets all not rush to insult Mr. Odinga on his opinion if we accept that we belong to the global village. It is said what an old man sees in the distance while sitting down a young man will not see it even if he stands up! Kenya has a slightly longer political history compared to Zambia.

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    • ZAMBIANATION is what started this whole foolishness
      Then Sata messed up the tribalism arena like no man’s business

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    • Atleast he has exbhibited what he believes in and the values he stands for…not some deprived a$$ that sleeps on LT with nothing else to do bu showcasing frustrations. Get layed or use a d!ldo, all the frustration you got could dissappear for days!

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  2. The voices of concern are gradually growing. I hope LT you sent a reporter to the magistrates court or you have reliable contacts? Please update us ASAP. Thanks

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  3. Raila says about HH and UPND that they were “keen to play by the rules”. It is clear how an outsider does not even bother to find out how HH’s UPND ensured party agents from other parties including the ruling PF were threatened with violence at polling stations in Southern Province and hence chased away. One wonders whether this behaviour by the UPND in their stronghold of Southern Province amounts to willingness to play by the rules. Could it be this is the one-sided story Raila has been fed with by Muna Ndulo?

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  4. If this really came from Odinga, I’d request him to follow UPND’s politics before and after 2010 elections. Hichilema told the nation that he would not accept the election results if he lost them. Hichilema continues to stick by his pre-election belief of not accepting the results. Who is putting Zambian democracy at stake here?

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  5. On this I blame our police for failing to avoid this situation.Where was the intelligence? The state has satellite facility or even using goole to know at what speed the opposition was travelling and advise the motorcade. People should critically analyse this. Wasn’t there a way the police could have avoided this?It is like a motorist hitting a pedestrian, … even if he was wrong the police will ask ..Could this have been avoided? The job of the police is to ensure that the PRESIDENT of ZAMBIA is safe kwasilaa!! Under former Presido Rupia the monkey urinated on him, his body guard was one of those that laughed…and he kept his job.!!!!! .

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  6. If you choose to blame one part and at the same time you want to remain neutral, you only expose your lopsided mind. If laila want us to believe his propaganda he would have refered to some wrongs hh did which lead to his arrest. Peter mabange has been insulting Ecl and many others but they are still enjoying freedom. Laila do a brief research on hh and the answer will be in the first sentence I guarantee you. Hh is simply an under5 in politics. His arrogance trapped him.

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    • *****s are always short sighted, they bare pay attention to detail and more often than not,jumps into conclusion prematurely. We are not talking about whether or not HH did a wrong thing,but what offence did he commit? was it a traffic or treasonable offence. If it is treason as Lungu and his pf police would want every gullible supporter to believe, then they should tell us how many were involved and how they did it and where was state security at that particular moment. Was HH the only one in the over 60 vehicles that were on the road? It will always seem good when affliction is on ur friend but the day it will catch up with u, u’ld wish u were never born.Dictators are like a double edged sword! Wake up!!!?

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  7. Odinga does not qualify to comment on such high moral matters. He still has blood on his stands from the 2007 Kenya election violence. Counsel Qay representing Kenyatta at the ICC cornered Raila with stacks of evidence that clearly blamed the violence on Odinga’s pre-election fiery rhetoric. If you ask me, Raila is not good company at all.

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    • Cant agree more with you @Chalo. The difference not 16,000 by the way but 100,000.
      16,000 in the 2015 election and the gap grew to 100,000

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    • Cant agree more with you @Chalo. The difference was not 16,000 by the way but 100,000.
      16,000 in the 2015 election and the gap grew to 100,000 in 2016

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  8. thats odinga’s opinion who cares…he must in the same breath tell that chap to behave and stop insulting the president.

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  9. The Supreme Leader HH of the UPND lost by 100,530 votes to the President of Zambia Mr Edgar Chagwa Lungu and not 16,000 votes as alleged by Mr Odinga who has even failed to check the facts on the ECZ website…And for his information in an election you can even lose or win by one vote same as 49% fail and 50% pass in the examinations…

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  10. All you dummies are missing the point Odinga is making. You are quick to attack his person and stats such as number of votes. His point is that what is happening in Zambia is undemocratic. Get it!

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    • They don’t…They are too stupid and ignorant to figure it out. Even after you just pointed it out they still don’t get it.

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  11. CHIWAMILA GALU!!
    When president Sata (mhrip) fell sick ,celebration broke out in UPND camp. President Sata died, bulls were killed in some part of the country just to celebrate someone’s death, a person u never made.
    When president Lungu got sick on international womens day in heroes stadium. Same camp celebrated, going to the mountain to pray to their gods so that the president dies.
    Today HH is in prison for his foolishness, you are busy insulting us, telling that God is watching. Infact God is punishing him for his foolishness. Its even written in the book of Romans 15:1-5. Am sure you will stop your nonsense. PF family lets celebrate naifwe..who wants the party family?

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  12. I cant wait for these PF 1diots to be taught a lesson.Let Mutati come back with an empty bowl so that we start suffering together only then shall the dimwits start using their heads for thinking.

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    • How can Mutati come back with an empty bowl?? The IMF is more than willing to lend us money and have been doing so since 2012 it’s just that Chikwanda was always against getting conditional money from them. You want to suffer, go ahead; we will remain working hard and enjoying our money. Juventus v Barcelona, tonight…can’t wait to enjoy with a chilled heineken!!!!!

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  13. I wonder….what really is the matter. His discourse highlights a number of challenges with our democracy which as Zambians we all know. Those are the issues that are currently bringing this strife and acrimony that we have. Let us reflect seriously as a people if we are going to move our country to great heights. The current dispensation of our politics, governance and constitutionalism is not right. The political space is not even actually not there and that creates problems.

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  14. Raila Odinga and his ODM are network partners with African Liberal Network together with upnd (and DA in RSA). Birds of the same feather flock together!!!!!!

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  15. Mr. Odinga am so surprised you can sink this low to comment on issues you hardly know. you feel that HH is being victimised by ECL and the police and its so unfortunate that this script is coming from a so called seasoned politician of your standing.
    Mr. Odinga you need to study the political landscape in Zambia very well for you to make an unformed writeup other wise you have missed the point. HH for sure lost the elections and he has been losing since he started standing. he only won in three provinces of the 10 provinces in Zambia. His party is a tribal party and only his tribemates and tribal cousins voted for him. HH has never accepted the results which are so clear and evidence overwheming. The international observers also monitored these elections and alluded to his lose. He…

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  16. @kopala, guess you have never heard of Abraham Lincoln, who lost elections so many times but eventually won the US Presidency. it is not how many times you fail that matters.Assuming your ECL won, why win with such a questionable narrow margin given the enormous advantage of incumbency. Another point is assuming HH only won in 3 provinces, could he have achieved that number which is almost at par with the numbers that came from 7 provinces? Your argument here beats logic and only a die hard cadre of PF DNA can continue to parrot such logic!!

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    • Is it no wonder people give up on education just because they have failed a couple of times and doom themselves to being called illiterate because they have nothing to show for it! Please don’t give up, if you fall and no matter how many times pick yourself up and start all over again as you may not know it yourself that you could be an encouragement to those watching you!

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  17. I once sympathized with this odinga guy of what he went through at the hand of mwai kibaki but today I’ve known that he lacks proper political judgments in his life. Nowonder Uhuru had no problems beating him pants down.surely how do comment on things if at all he could have a little knowledge of.genuinely how can you trivialise the obstruction of a presidential motorcade to a mere traffic offense? in an event that untold calamity happened there could have been chaos in the country. Odinga please concentrate on building your finished ODM party than commenting on Zambian matters you don’t understand. Your political calculation is too defective how do claim hh won when he only has following in his home province and two of his cousins out of ten provinces in which Edgar LUNGU has seven…

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    • Odinga’s fiery rhetoric led to 2008 violence and he’s even admitted participating in 1982 coup where hundreds died.He’s the bad guy not a role model.

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  18. The elections are coming in August this year. Mr Odinga is not a subject in the election in Kenya. he is an opposition leader and will remain so for a long time to come, just like HH.

    At least Odinga knows that it is treasonable to tell people that you are going to be sworn in even after losing an election. Odinga has respect for the presidency and the people of Kenya. Let him teach his losing partner how to lose elections respectably.

    In Kenya, the president of Kenya and Odinga cannot be in the same province at the same time. In Zambia, if the police had tried to do that to HH, the chiefs from Southern Province would have travelled to Lusaka for a protest march.
    In short Mr Odinga, concentrate on tour campain in Kenya because there are no elections in Zambia

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  19. Odinga should be the last 1diot to lecture Zambians .He has blood on his hand from 1982 failed coup and blood on his hands for fiery rhetoric leading to 2008 bloodbirth in Kenya.His ODM party is known for violence and he thinks politics should take 1st position and development projects are 2nd place.He’s a useless dimwit whose leadership credentials of 20 yrs with no notable achievements and poor judgement are very very questionable.

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  20. If Kenya has an Embassy in Zambia, Mr. Raila Odinga’s authentic source of information on the state of affairs prevailing in Zambia is the Kenyan Ambassador resident in Zambia.

    The truth, for which some Embassies from certain Western countries have opted to bury their heads in the sand, is that it is the innocent people who have been tortured and killed at the hands of UPND cadres with the blessing by HH and now the Chiefs from the south. Then Odinga will be wiser therafter.

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  21. Keep hh for similar period like Mwaliteta… At least six months so that he learns the hard way .kikiki

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  22. WHAT DO YOU EXPECT FROM THE DRUNKARD WHO HAS NO VISION WHAT SO EVER FOR THE NATION. ZAMBIANS MUST STOP BEING DOCILE AND SPEAK WHEN IT MATTERS. MR ODINGA IS ABSOLUTELY CORRECT. WHAT IS HAPPENING IN ZAMBIA RIGHT NOW IS A DISGRACE AND SHOULD BE STRONGLY CONDEMNED.
    YOU CAN TELL THE QUALITY OF A LEADER BY THE WAY HE TREATS THOSE WHO DO NOT SHARE HIS VIEWS.

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  23. Okay so FORMER somebody speaks, but who is he today? There is a little African continent Gang composed of ‘has beens,” ‘hope to be,’ ‘gee I would like to incite a coup,’ type of Politician(if you can call them that). They live to cause trouble on the continent. LETS HUNT THEN DOWN and despatch.

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  24. True son of Africa and principled man. Lungu has dented Zambia’s image and the Judiciary should have protected. Its time SADC gather their armies and get ready to remove Lungu if he refuses for the petition to be heard so the courts can determine the legimate president of Zambia.

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  25. US, EU must impose sanction and also bring in their armies. Lungu must be forced for the petition to be heard. He can’t be hiding the truth because the truth belongs to the people of Zambia. They need to know what happened and through an impartial court. How can we allow someone to manipulate the entire system and everyone is watching. He does not stop there. He sends thugs and criminals to loot and damage an innocent person’s property even try to harm him at night.

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  26. Don’t worry, we are just caging a snake which doesn’t want to recognize our democratic right to choose a president!

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  27. A tribal party with tribal Namwala henchmen calling for sanctions of free country like Zambia? Please start calling for sanctions against Congo DR and demanding for a snake to be caged!

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  28. Lungu is doing fine! UPND, the snake and the tribal party bloggers are denting Zambia’s image with their shallow tribal analysis.

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  29. Unfortunately Mr Odinga is an absolute political failure. His father failed in so many elections fighting Jomo Kenyatta till his death. Odinga is fighting Uhuru for Presidency but has proven to be an absolute failure. Who doesn’t remember what he did after losing an election to Uhuru. He plunged the country into chaos thanks to Obama who chastised him timely. No African leader in opposition has ever accepted defeat in an election. Losers always want to bulldoze so called western countries to play refeering, shame. Mr Odinga, take your advicevelsewhere as you don’t command respect here in Zambia, may be let Uhuru speak. HH and his minions shouldn’t take Zambian for granted, Lol.
    Those with Lungu are more that with HH.

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  30. Odinga is a “has been” and his record is littered with bloodshed,anti govt propaganda,constant incitement ,pointless globe trotting at taxpayer expense and a cold blooded disregard of poor people’s lives.Simply put Odinga is not a person to be listened to so he should fhuck off.Useless tribal demi god.

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    • Has been or not odinga is right.and has not mentioned any tribe in his statement but all you of cadres are bringing tribe into the matter.

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  31. Mr odina, its true that drmocracy must stand out, but you don’t know what type of man you are trying to sympathies with.A law breaker and undedputed self styled supreme leader of the south and western Zambia.His party do not even hold conversion to allow others to challenge him.His party do not believe in democracy, but in ablogating the law.take a trip to zambia and speak from here.

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