20 September 2011 came and went and in the next couple of days the nation was gripped with tension of a thriller movie. Everyone clung to every word, rumour or speculation that could satisfy the appetite for the results. And there were plenty sources to satisfy this need from Facebook to Tumfweko.com the rumours kept rolling. Finally the results that everyone was waiting for were announced on 23 September 2011 at exactly 00:34hours that Michael Chilufya Sata would take the helm as the next president. A nation breathed a sigh of relief.
Prior to the election there were conspiracy theories of vote rigging by the MMD that even the legendary author Robert Ludlum would have been proud of. From the disappearing ink to the right way to fold the paper it was something that got a nation hyped. Whether the conspiracy theories were true or not there is no disputing that it created election monitors of everyone. Every person was so alert at anything and anyone that was fishy and investigated everything that looked suspicious. This played a critical role in ensuring that it made it very difficult for would-be riggers. However, this also had negative implications for the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) in that they had ballot papers burnt and the election process delayed in some areas due to the heightened suspicion.
It was this distrust in the electoral process that led many to believe that the delay in announcing the results was a plot by the MMD to rig the elections. This led to pockets of riots in Kitwe, Ndola and Mufulira. In all fairness the ECZ must be applauded for doing a commendable job despite the hurdles. They were able to give us the results only a few hours later than promised. Other African countries take weeks before a winner is announced. We must note that we are developing our electoral process and we are making progress in the right direction. They tried their best to be transparent and they have definitely learnt something from these elections.
After the announcement was made by Chief Justice Ernest L. Sakala, the jubilation that swept across the nation was increased. It is as if people were in their beds and woke up in disbelief at the announcement. Vuvuzelas, honking, singing, boom blasting music and dancing all characterised the celebrations. These are pictures that I have envisioned when Zambia we win the Africa Cup. People were thinking there was one more trick that had yet to be played but there was none. It was finally over ‘Donchi Kubeba’ had worked.
Now I am not a PF supporter but somewhere at the back of my mind I wanted Michael C. Sata to win. I wanted to know whether it was possible that we could defy the odds and write a new chapter in African history by the opposition winning an election. To me it was also going to symbolise that the electoral process does work in Zambia. It would also be a warning to current and aspiring politicians that if they do not perform we have the power to book them out.
These elections besides showing that there can be a smooth transition of power of which Rupiah Banda should be commended for they have also proved a point. They have proved that this young country of Zambia is at a different level of democracy than most African countries. The Western media is so quick to make headlines of African countries whose election processes fail and the nations erupt in civil wars and chaos i.e. Ivory Cost. Hardly will they put a real success story like Zambia’s a headline story. It has barely even made international news, how pathetic it. However, should we have been killing each other and burning up the town you would have seen how they would have sent all manner of camera men and reporters. We have shamed them, something good can come out of Africa and we have shown it.
Finally the reason for the ecstatic jubilation is that people have very enourmous if not gigantic expectations of the PF government. People are expecting more money in their pockets, lower taxes, reduced poverty and a fight on corruption. Therefore, the biggest challenge that PF now has is to manage people’s expectations. They need to explain to the people of Zambia that this is a process and it may take time to do certain things. They may not have the chance to do everything but they can get the ball rolling. It is also our responsibility as Zambians to get involved in the development process; it is the duty of every individual and not just the government alone. I look forward to this new chapter we have entered.