Dr Nevers Mumba Former Vice President of Zambia.
(Great Lakes Region Election Observer group)
We arrived in Luanda, Angola on Saturday, August 20th. We were met by the Executive Secretary Mr Joao Samuel Caholo of the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region(ICGLR) our Zambian Ambassador to Angola Excellency Mr Chalungumana and other Embassy officials.
Millions of Angolans shall head to the polls on 24th August 2022 to elect a new parliament and a President.
In contention are eight political formations. But it’s the ruling MPLA and UNITA and their flag bearers that are leading the pack. Incumbent President Joao Lourenco of MPLA and Mr Adalberto Costa Junior of UNITA.
I am honored to lead the Zambian delegation under the umbrella of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR).
I share a few excerpts from my initial remarks……
“Angola is an important nation in our region. It’s a big and strong economy with a GDP of $74 billion. An oil rich country with a sea port that Zambia and other african nations need for trade. Actually Angola is investing in petroleum refineries for it to take up its deserved position as “the filling station of the region”. The two countries however are lagging in developing transport infrastructure (road, rail, water and air) critical for supporting trade. My impression is that my younger brother Lawrence Chalungumana Zambia’s Ambassador to Angola is equal to the task. With the foresighted leadership shown by HE President Hakainde Hichilema, it is certain that these projects will be implemented.
Zambia and Angola share a rich history and a long contiguous border. Alot of similarities exist , for example, the languages such as luvale, lunda, luchazi, mbunda exist on both sides of the border, food is similar, names are similar and many cultural practices are similar. It is worth noting that Zambia Angola relations are intertwined across epochs. In the first instance, Zambia played its role as the midwife of the liberation struggle by hosting all the three liberation movements of Angola namely MPLA,FNLA and UNITA in the fight against Portuguese colonialism. Later, Zambia played the role of peace builder with the signing of the Lusaka Peace Accords in November 1994 between Mr Jonas Savimbi of UNITA and President Edwardo Dos Santos of MPLA.
Suffice to say, Angola’s democratic process has continued to grow and improved over the years. This year’s election are the fifth since independence.
President Hakainde Hichilema and the Zambian people remain committed to contributing to peace building in the region. This is why we are here.”
With a long 27 year war which claimed over half a million lives and a serious carnage to key infrastructure, Angola stands out as a letter of hope to any nation engulfed in internal conflicts. They are a successful example in how to resolve deep internal conflicts.
Our Great Lakes region benefits economically from a peaceful and stable Angola.
By its nature, an election is a contestation of ideas among political parties. The people have the final say through the ballot. In the end, it’s the peoples’ will that should prevail. Whilst the winner has the responsibility to govern and implement the program they sold to the people, the opposition also have a legitimate and noble task to provide the necessary checks and balances. That’s how democracy functions.
Africa’s conflicts in the past were mostly instigated along racial(apartheid) and tribal lines, but today, the greatest threat to peace on the continent is internal contestation. Elections therefore should be held in a fair credible and transparent manner.
We are here representing the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region in observing these elections. Other international observers include the African Union, SADC, Community of Portuguese speaking countries (CPLP), and several local observers drawn from Civil society groups and Faith based groups.
We are praying for the people of Angola to emerge stronger after these elections. Our presence signifies the significance the region attaches to Angola’s peace, stability and prosperity.”