SWEDISH Ambassador to Zambia Anna Maj Hultgård has commended the coordinated approach by civil society organizations (CSOs) in ensuring that the will of the people prevailed in the August 2021 election.
Speaking at the launch of the CSO election report, Friday, Ambassador Hultgård said it was important to point out the role of various electoral stakeholders in boosting public confidence in the credibility of the electoral process and the electoral outcome.
“All these efforts and the coordinator role ActionAid Zambia played contributed immensely to ensuring that the will of the people prevailed, and a just democratic process was upheld. The embassy commends the coordinated approach our partners took, including some that are not mentioned here. And will continue to support and facilitate such coordination efforts,” she said.
She said the smooth transition of power in the August 2021 elections cemented Zambia’s reputation of being a beacon of peace and democracy.
“Announcement of the winner of the election and concession by the then incumbent leader marked an impressive third smooth transition of power in Zambian history. This cemented Zambia’s reputation of being a beacon of peace and democracy in the region and beyond,” Ambassador Hultgård said.
She said it was exciting that youths and women were participating in key decision making activities.
“What was most elating was the valuable role of young people, who came out in numbers to get identity cards, to register as voters and then turned up to cast their vote in what has been coined a revolutionary election. I was for example at UNZA polling station comprising many young voters and we were able to hear how they traveled across the country making sure their voices would be heard. Their quest to see improved opportunities and having their voices heard is another key expectation that young people have for the new administration. It is also impressive to note that women made up the bulk of registered voters and they too played a critical role on tipping the election scale,” she said.
Ambassador Hultgård said Zambians should recognize the opportunity to consolidate democratic gains and institute reforms to further enhance the transparency and inclusivity of future elections.
“As the Zambian people continue to bask in the peaceful transfer of power and make known their expectations to the new administration, we need to recognize the opportunity to consolidate democratic gains and institute reforms to further enhance the transparency and inclusivity of future elections. Important lessons must be carried forward to attain a just and equitable political governance system. Improving on the key challenges identified in the handling of pre-election activities such as voter registration, meaningful campaign strategies and transparent voting and counting process are key issues that are at the core of the report contents,” she said.
Meanwhile, ActionAid country director Nalucha Ziba said civil society organizations must continue to participate in democratic decision making to influence and hold government accountable.
“Ladies and gentlemen, as civil society organizations, we have noted from this experience, the importance of public participation in electoral processes, as records had shown a registration of seven (7) million Zambians who registered to vote at various polling stations. Though the election season maybe over, our work as Civil Society Organizations must continue to protect and expand political space for like minded civil society organizations to participate in democratic decision making to influence and hold the government and corporates accountable,” she said.
“Ladies and gentlemen allow me to stress the importance that peace building, and electoral monitoring will continue to play a major role in our work to ensure that citizens fully understand their voting rights and democratic power and mandate to choose leaders that they know will deliver on their social and economic services.”