In the midst of what appeared to be possible contestation of the election results – with the incumbent, Edgar Lungu, seemingly poised to dispute his defeat by the opposition’s Hakainde Hichilema – there was urgent need for sober minds to prevail, in order to quell a potentially explosive situation.
Nonetheless, a source of wisdom, who managed to bring about sanity, was soon to emerge on the stage, in the form of the country’s former president Rupiah Banda – who successfully brought the two political rivals together at his home, paving the way for a much desired smooth transfer of power, with Lungu gracefully conceding defeat.
Banda managed to carry his responsibility as an elder statesmen with exceptional finesse, thereby, preventing what could have been a real embarrassment, not only for Zambia, but a continent, notorious for leaders who have no qualms manipulating their countries’ constitutions to advance, and extend, their grip on power, rely on savage brutality to stifle dissent and opposition voices, rig elections, and refuse to relinquish office.
As a Zimbabwean, I know exactly what I am talking about.
Which brings me to the gist of my discourse.
In a country such as mine, are we ever going to have any elder statesmen and women – as we witness in other countries, especially our neighbors, as Zambia, Mozambique, South Africa, Botswana, and Namibia – who did not fear democracy, but readily left office for others to take over?
I can not help feeling so envious watching our neighbors take pride in their luminaries – in the mould of the late Kenneth Kaunda, the late Nelson Mandela, Thabo Mbeki, Sam Nujoma, Hifikepunye Pohamba, Festus Mogae, Ian Khama, and so many others – who stepped down with dignity, and assumed another roles in both their own countries, and the continent.
These great statesmen have played a pivotal responsibility of working for peace, unity, and tranquility in hotspots in Africa – a land infested with an unenviable legacy of civil conflicts, primarily as a result of power-greedy and egoistic leaders who are the complete opposite of their mediators.
There is nothing more humiliating as living in a country whose leaders are the very antithesis of the Mandelas, Mbekis, Pohambas, Bandas, and Kaundas of this world.
It is akin to a child who sits by the door, watching his neighbor lovingly playing with his children, as well as enjoying quality time with his wife – yet, his own parents are always fighting, and his father endlessly in a drunken stupor.
That is how I feel as a Zimbabwean.
How can we ever have our own Mandelas, Mbekis, Pohambas, Bandas, and Kaundas, when our leaders have no intention, whatsoever, exiting office, and will do anything in their power – no matter how brutal, barbaric, and sinister – to hold on to that power?
Do they, truly, not see that they are a huge embarrassment, and bring unimaginable shame on the entire nation?
When we meet as the children of Africa, most particularly, the southern region, and we share notes on our countries – Zambians, Batswana, South Africans, Mozambicans, Namibians, and Malawians will be proudly bragging about the democratic smooth transfer of power in their countries.
They will be excitedly expressing their joy and pride in their elder statesmen, who are involved in various initiatives to advance the lives of their countrymen and women, as well as bringing peace and harmony in conflict zones across the continent.
And, what do we, from Zimbabwe, have to say?
That our leaders are some of those causing all the trouble on the continent – who need to always be talked to by our neighbors?
The people of Zimbabwe deserve better, and it is high time we also had our own elder statesmen and women – who foster true democratic tenets, and are prepared to graciously vacate office…and, certainly not through a coup d’etat, since that, too, has only brought us shame.
© Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist, writer, author, and political commentator. Please feel free to contact him on WhatsApp/Call: +263715667700 / +263782283975, or Calls Only: +263788897936 / +263733399640, or email: [email protected]Post published in: Featured