US Embassy in Zambia interim Charge d’Affaires David Young says he is encouraged by President-elect Hakainde Hichilema’s speech against cadre violence, adding that the harassment of people in markets and bus stations should be condemned.
And Young said Zambia stands out as one of the African countries with a functioning multi-party democracy.
Speaking during a virtual press briefing, Tuesday, Young urged law enforcement agencies to confront and prevent cadre violence.
“With regards to the question about the harassment and cadre violence, we feel strongly that cadre violence of any kind, of any party is bad. It needs to be confronted and prevented by law enforcement agencies. And the kinds of harassment we are hearing about at bus stations and markets or the destruction of property should be condemned. I was very pleased yesterday (Monday) that the President-elect made a very strong statement against cadre violence and said that it was unacceptable for his supporters or people who voted for him to support cadre violence and attacks,” Young said.
“You don’t want to replace one group of cadres with another that intimidates, harasses and threatens people. We will continue to speak out against cadre violence and any UPND supporters, voters or others who engage in it, that should end. I thought the President elect’s statement was strong and that gives me encouragement.”
Young further said the US government looked forward to working with the UPND government.
“The US congratulates Hakainde Hichilema as President-elect on his victory in the August 12 general elections. We congratulate the people of Zambia for exercising their right to vote in historic numbers and welcome the commitment from all parties to a peaceful and orderly transition. We look forward to working with the Zambian government, the administration of Mr Hichilema to advance our mutual interest and deepen the friendship between our two nations. We reaffirm our strong partnership with Zambia and the Zambian people. We want to congratulate the President-elect of the country on his big victory and those other winners from other parties who won their elections,” he said.
And Young said Zambia stood out as one of the countries with the strongest traditions of having a multiparty democracy which functioned.
“We appreciate also the very gracious concession that President Lungu had offered as well and what a positive signal that was to ensure the orderly transitioning from one party to the other. Zambia is very blessed with its strong democratic heritage and this election helped to reinforce that. Now in 30 years of multi-party democracy, there has been a transition between parties, this will be the third time. Zambia stands out as one of the countries on the continent with strongest traditions of having the multiparty democracy really function, be vibrant and be real. We think of Ghana and some other countries as well but Zambia is really a high standard in terms of how the people vote, the people decide and the institutions move forward to make that possible,” he said.
Young commended the Electoral Commission of Zambia for announcing the presidential results within the 72- hour period.
“I also want to express appreciation to the Electoral Commission of Zambia and all those who participated in administering the vote. The presiding officers that I met and others who worked so hard to have the election come off very well as it did and the counting of votes to be rolled out and announced within 72 hours. That was an impressive achievement,” he said.
When asked what lessons the UPND government could take from the PF, Young said there was a real hunger for better economic conditions as well as improved lives for average citizens.
“I think as the new government comes to power, it is important to know that the people want the economy to work for them. They want to create jobs; they want more opportunities. I think there is a real hunger for better economic conditions and improved lives for the average Zambian. I also think that the people want and appreciate democratic freedoms, the personal liberty, they want freedom of the press, they want freedom of assembly,” he responded.
Further asked if the elections were free and fair and if he was happy with the outcome, Young emphasized that the US government did not support any candidate in the race, but noted that there was no level playing field during the pre-electoral campaign process.
“I think we have called all along for a free, fair and transparent and peaceful elections. As I have said for a year and a half, we do not take sides. We did not have a candidate that we supported in the race, we were neutral. The free nature of the election having a free, casting of the votes and counting of the votes, that was credible and transparent. The pre-electoral period during the campaign left a lot to be desired, it was not a level playing field,” said Young.