PF MEDIA director Sunday Chanda says Zambia’s democracy is much better than the United States, because US President Donald Trump’s concerns about the credibility of mail-in ballots show that its electoral process was not flawless.
And Chanda says the US Chargé d’Affaires to Zambia David Young should concentrate on talking to the UPND and other stakeholders to participate in the proposed reformation of the Public Order Act.
Commenting on the US envoy’s remarks last week that the US government was concerned about the way the Public Order Act was being administered in Zambia, Chanda said despite Zambia’s democracy being in its infancy stage, it was much better than the Unted States’ because the latter is currently engulfed in uncertainties about the credibility of its election outcome.
The US President had told US media in recent weeks prior to the first Presidential Debate against his Democratic opponent Joe Biden that he may not cede control of the White House if there was reason to suspect the outcome of the November 3 poll would be fraudulent.
“Sometimes, we get these concerns where our colleagues would want to give this impression that our democracy is so bad, that there is nothing good to write home about, but we know what is happening in the run-up to the US elections. So, unless they want to tell us that this is the best mode of democracy; we know the concerns that are coming from all the candidates in that (US presidential election) race. So, democracy has come on a serious litmus test if an incumbent (US President Donald Trump) is going to cry foul in the leading democracy about the democratic process and how people are going to vote. How much more of a developing country where democracy is still in its youth and infancy. We must be also fair in raising concerns and making prescriptions, we must be very very clear that we look at the oldest democracies and the so-called leading democracies and let’s compare them to what we got here. By any standard, in a number of ways, we are way way better!” Chanda argued.
“Let’s look at the run-up to the election and let us look up to the run-up to Zambia’s elections and the concerns. If President Lungu was to say that, ‘I would not hand over power…’ Do you know what would happen? Do you know how many people would say, ‘abc’ and raise alarm? That is happening in the leading democracy; you have the incumbent saying, ‘I might not hand over power.’ So, what are we learning about democracy? What lessons are there on democracy for those of us in the developing countries where democracy is still an infant? What lessons are there from the upcoming US election?”
Chanda insisted that it was time for Africa to “Africanise” its fledgling democracy.
“Sometimes, as we look at all these standards that is the reason why over and beyond, there comes a time where Africa must say to itself that we need to Africanise democracy. How long has Zambia been a democracy? Some of these have been democracies and they have had their democracies over 200 years. Not so long ago they couldn’t give some of their (Black) citizens the right to vote, we still have the civil rights movement making demands in the US. By our own standards, Zambia is doing very well in terms of democracy. Can you imagine how Zambia is going to look like when our democracy is 200 years old? Clearly, our democracy would be way better than these democracies that have lived for more than 200 years,” he said.
And Chanda said that Ambassador Young’s remarks on the disputed Public Order Act did not hold water as the PF government was committed to reforming it.
“We need to be fair with ourselves and agree that whenever you have elections, you are going to get different stakeholders making different insinuations. Where we stand, the issue of the Public Order Act, we would call on the head of the Chargé d’Affaires at the American Embassy to take particular interest in what has been government’s commitment with regards to the Public Order Act and reforming the Public Order Act in order to conform with the times that we are living today. We are all aware that the Public Order Act is an old piece of legislation and where Zambia is today, clearly, the Public Order Act needs to be reformed. His Excellency, the President, Edgar Lungu and the PF, have been very clear that we can reform the Public Order Act,” Chanda said.
“The Minister of Justice (Given Lubinda) invited for submission, there has been no single submission from the largest opposition party in this country. So, sometimes even when the UPND cries foul, we fail to understand what is it they are crying about because the starting point is to ride on government policies of reforming the Public Order Act. Had the government said, ‘they are comfortable with this piece of legislation, it doesn’t need any reforms whatsoever,’ then the arguments and the concerns of the American Embassy would then hold water.”
He, however, urged the US envoy to concentrate on calling the opposition to join the process of transforming the Public Order Act.
“The emphasis should be colleagues, such as our brother at the American Embassy, should be calling members of parliament from the opposition, especially from the UPND in reforming the Public Order Act. Whether it was a government of angels in power and they would enforce this Public Order Act someone is going to cry foul. The starting point is reforming the Public Order Act. Who walks out of Parliament? It is the UPND! we would call on the American Embassy to prevail on some of these stakeholders and speak to them and that they should act responsibly. Who has been against reforms? It is the UPND, they don’t want the Public Order Act reformed, so they must not even cry foul because they don’t want to reform the Public Order Act.”