As Zambia entered into a glorious shadow of a genuine new dispensation, the whole world is all eyes and celebrating with the people of Zambia.
This is not the first time for Zambia to have a smooth transfer of power from one political party to another. It started with the late Kenneth Kaunda, who is praised for introducing multi-party democracy by subsequently accepting defeat in 1991. Such is the beauty of democracy, as they say, leaders come and go. Nothing lasts forever. We like to call it the "Lead and Leave Principle".
In what shocked many, the democratic movement, the United National Democratic Party (UNDP) led by Hakainde Hichilema emerged victorious in the 2021 plebiscite walloping the incumbent, Edgar Lungu with a margin of a million votes.
After participating in six elections, Hichilema finally led the democratic forces to victory.
Being a friend in the trenches it goes without saying that we are part of the victorious forces celebrating the victory for the people of Zambia. Our struggle is nothing without solidarity.
In any case, solidarity is a cornerstone of social democracy.
A great feeling of accomplishment filled the atmosphere in Lusaka as we drove towards the National Heroes Stadium to join hundreds of thousands of Zambians, Heads of States, diplomats, services chiefs to inaugurate the President-elect Hichilema.
Like other democrats, the intention and objective were for us to learn from Zambia and President HH’s change agents. The fundamental question of our time is " does democracy work?" Many young people in Africa and Zimbabwe in particular ask themselves whether or not it is possible to usher in a democratic breakthrough using elections.
They are trapped in the questions asked in the famous poem, “The montage of a dream deferred”.
I intend to answer the election question with an eloquent YES!
Modern functional states function on the basis of a social contract summed up in an election, the idea that power is derived from people through the ballot.
It is that vote which gives "we the people" the ability to negotiate with those in power and with power itself.
A lot of lessons can be drawn from the Zambian experience to breathe hope to the hopeless masses of our people.
An election is a science and a game of numbers, whoever gets greater numbers must and will eventually lead.
Here are the lessons:
Young people are the game-changers. It is without a doubt that the major demographic group in Africa and indeed in Zambia are young people. This group of those between the ages of 18-35 defined the collective destiny and agenda for Zambia. It began with the determination of the task.
What are the key tasks of young people in an unfree and uneven political playing field?
1) It is to register to vote in massive numbers.
2) To organize society and resisting autocratic police behaviour
3.) To protect and defend the vulnerable
4.) To cast the ballot on the voting day
5.) To peacefully defend the ballot by all means necessary
These became the key tasks of young people that became a real harbinger of a radically different Zambia today. It is apparent and glaringly clear that rigging has a ceiling. The massive voter turnout by the millennials was a shocker. The regime was taken by surprise. This was motivated and epitomized in the "faka pressure" watchword that galvanized young people around a defined program of action which was to turn out and vote and do so to the logical conclusion of the election.
It was the "no one goes home" charge by the presidential hopeful to youthful forces that became a buffer against possible electoral manipulation through ballot staffing. A horde of state vehicles spent 72 hours roving around polling stations with pre-marked ballots with no entry to the polling station. Citizens were united and bound by the collective desire for change. Now that change came to Zambia, one can thus conclude by saying that the key in any political battlefield is proving that people power always triumphs over the people in power.
The task now is with the young people of Zimbabwe. Fellow young Zimbabweans the ball is squarely in our court. It's either we shape up or we ship out. Let us choose to shape up and redefine the destiny of this beautiful country in the 2023 general election.
The next election is an election of hope over despair, love over hate, faith over doubt and more importantly change over the status quo. To achieve this, all-eligible young Zimbabweans between now and the general election scheduled for 2023 must register to vote as a matter of patriotic duty and responsibility.