Documents on Democracy

Issue Date January 2012
Volume 23
Issue 1
Page Numbers 182-84
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Zambia

After losing the presidential election to opposition leader Michael Sata, incumbent Rupiah Banda (of the Movement for Multiparty Democracy) conceded defeat. Below are excerpts from his September 23 concession speech:

The election campaign of 2011 is over. The people of Zambia have spoken and we must all listen. Some will be happy with what they have heard, others will not. The time now is for maturity, for composure and for compassion. To the victors, I say this: you have the right to celebrate but do so with a magnanimous heart. Enjoy the hour but remember that a term of government is for years. Remember that the next election will judge you also. Treat those who you have vanquished with the respect and humility that you would expect in your own hour of defeat.

I know that all Zambians will expect such behavior and I hope it will be delivered. Speaking for myself and my party, we will accept the results. We are a democratic party and we know no other way. It is not for us to deny the Zambian people. We never rigged, we never cheated, we never knowingly abused state funds. We simply did what we thought was best for Zambia. I hope the next government will act likewise in years to come.

Zambia deserves a decent democratic process. Indeed, Zambia must build on her past victories. Our independence was hard won, our democracy secured with blood. Zambia must not go backwards, we must all face the future and go forward as one nation. Not to do so would dishonor our history. To my party, to the MMD candidates who did not win, the lesson is simple. Next time we must try harder. . . . Do not be disheartened. The MMD will be back. We must all face the reality that sometimes it is time for change. Since 1991, the MMD has been in power. I believe we have done a good job on behalf of all Zambians.

Frederick Chiluba led us to a genuine multi-party state and introduced the private sector to our key industries. Zambia was liberated by an MMD ideal but maybe we became complacent with our ideals. [End Page 182] Maybe we did not listen, maybe we did not hear. Did we become grey and lacking in ideas? Did we lose momentum? Our duty now is to go away and reflect on any mistakes we may have made and learn from them. If we do not, we do not deserve to contest power again. The Zambia we know today was built by an MMD government. We know our place in history and we know that we can come back to lead again in the future. A new leadership will be chosen, and that leadership will be from the younger generation. My generation—the generation of the independence struggle—must now give way to new ideas, ideas for the 21st century. From this defeat, a new, younger MMD will be re-born. If I can serve that re-building, then I will. . . .

I urge you all now to rally behind your new president. Yes, we may have different ideas but we both want the same thing—a better Zambia. Now is not the time for violence and retribution. Now is the time to unite and build tomorrow’s Zambia together. Only by working together can we achieve a more prosperous Zambia. In my years of retirement, I hope to watch Zambia grow. I genuinely want Zambia to flourish. We should all want Zambia to flourish. So, I congratulate Michael Sata on his victory. I have no ill feeling in my heart, there is no malice in my words. I wish him well in his years as president. I pray his policies will bear fruit. But now it is time for me to step aside. Now is the time for a new leader. My time is done. It is time for me to say ‘good bye.’ May God watch over the Zambian people and may he bless our beautiful nation.

Michael Sata was sworn in as president on September 23. Below are excerpts from his inaugural address:

As we move into this next chapter of Zambia’s history, I would like to recognize the peaceful and orderly transition of power. It will be amiss of me if I did not acknowledge and thank my predecessor President Rupia Bwezani Banda’s contribution to this transition. This precedent, which has been with us since we gained our independence, is a virtue which I will treasure and respect. . . . I sincerely pray that our God will heal this nation and reconcile all of us. We may have different ideological principles but let’s agree to live side by side in harmony as Zambians. We must not allow violence to separate us; We are brothers and sisters. I thank my fellow presidential contenders for the good fight. I am sure that together we will continue the fight for a better Zambia in which poverty and injustice are totally banished.

Russia

In November, Russia’s Valdai Discussion Club, a group of domestic and international experts who meet once a year with Russia’s top leaders, issued a report entitled “Russia Development Index 2010–2011” [End Page 183] that was surprisingly critical of the country’s internal situation. Excerpts appear below:

The results of a survey of international analysts in 2010–2011 indicate worsening stagnation as the prevailing trend in Russia, which, judging by the results of a similar survey in 2009–2010, manifested itself most of all in the sluggishness of the country’s economic and scientific research development, as well as the development of its culture. Adding to it, a steady trend towards stagnation revealed itself in Russia’s politics during the past year. . . .

Importantly, though, most analysts noted that the level of confidence in political institutions is alarmingly low, and falling. Political parties, with the exception of the ruling party, have no real power. According to respondents, the decision-making authority and political influence is concentrated within the executive branch—the president, his administration, the prime minister and the government. As for all other political institutions including the State Duma, the Public Chamber, courts, NGOs and opposition parties (especially those that are not represented in parliament), they exert little or no influence. “The lack of true political campaigning and compromise is compensated only by the people’s low expectations of the political system and their leaders, or by the fact that they pay very little attention to political developments.” . . .

Russia’s economic development index has remained flat, on the same level as last year. A number of respondents pointed out that “the business climate has slightly deteriorated,” and that “investors and business leaders have not seen any significant improvements,” while “many opportunities to improve the economic situation were missed due to a deficiency of investment, and to corruption and erroneous decisions.” The analysts voice concerns about this trend of stagnation. “Treading water is not a good option. When important reforms are not implemented, this harms the investment climate.” . . .

The analysts surveyed noted a decline in the quality of life in Russia while maintaining that living standards have not changed over the year. “The recent wave of technical accidents and disasters has undermined people’s feeling of confidence in their safety,” they wrote, citing a “greater frequency of terrorist attacks not only in the North Caucasus but in big cities across Russia, the growing influence of extremist groups preaching intolerance and violence toward other ethnic groups, the growing number of attacks on journalists and the impotence of law-enforcement agencies.”

At the same time, respondents noted a new trend of decreasing tolerance. “Immigration has increased the pressure on society, mainly in big cities, which causes interethnic clashes, raises the rate of ethnically motivated crime against individuals, and eventually suppresses the levels of security and tolerance in society.” [End Page 184]