Fear of leaving office lives in many sitting presidents – HH

By Kombe Chimpinde and Walusungu Lundu

THE fear of leaving office lives in many sitting presidents, says President Hakainde Hichilema.

And former president Rupiah Banda’s brother James says ‘’Zambia does not need hot temperatures in governance’’.

Speaking at the first memorial for Banda at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Lusaka yesterday, he said Banda’s act of leaving office when he lost elections in 2011 without resistance was a lesson for leaders.

“The speakers before me had said a number of things and as I said yesterday at the Youth Indaba, we always learn. We must always be attentive to what others are saying in any occasion and I was seated there listening to speeches that have been given – all befitting about president Banda including RB’s five lessons. A Jere tamvwa (Mr Jere we have heard),” he said in apparent reference to Banda’s former press aide Dickson Jere who spoke before President Hichilema. “Lessons are there to be applied. He (Banda) truly was father of the nation; the whole nation. You have already heard how jovial he was. I have an experience with one of his jovial moods that I had with him. President Banda was a believer in democracy. He was truly a believer in the rule of law.”

He said Zambians remembered Banda for having done what was difficult for human beings to do.

“When time came to leave the presidency, he had only served three years in the presidency, how difficult it was to give it away even after the elections,’’ President Hichilema said. ‘’I must say for many, not just in this country but I do meet presidents now and we talk. The fear of leaving office lives in many sitting [presidents]; it lives in them and RB handed over power without resistance after three years of service. Lesson for all of us, a Jere (Mr Jere), we can add the lesson.’’ President Hichilema said.

President Hichilema also recalled Banda’s hope in young leadership by citing Banda’s lecture at Boston University in the US where he said there was need for a new generation of leaders.

He quoted from Banda’s Boston lecture that: “’If democracy is going to be secured in countries like Zambia, if development is going to take root in the country, old leaders cannot cling to power or attempt to consolidate power at all costs’. End of quote.’’

“That is RB. Quite touching! We are indebted to RB for his crucial role, the roles he played at the time when somebody needed someone like him,” President Hichilema said further.

He also recalled Banda’s efforts to bring him and former president Edgar Lungu to the negotiating table a day after voting in the 2021 general election.

President Hichilema said although the first two attempts had failed because Lungu did not show up, Banda still persuaded the two leaders to meet and dialogue.

“RB was there phoning, asking people to go to his house and I was one of those he asked to go to his house. I went there; in fact there were two other attempts. Two meetings were organised between my predecessor, the sixth president and myself and both of them did not materialize,’’ explained President Hichilema. ‘’But because of who he is, even when the second meeting was called, I still went to RB’s house .Did you know that? I don’t think many of you knew it. The third attempt worked, the rest is history. The presidents that came before us, vice-presidents that are there; it does not matter which party. It is about what we can learn from each other to make the country better for our citizens.”

Banda died at his home on March 11, 2022 aged 85 after succumbing to colon cancer.

He ascended to the country’s highest office in 2008 following the death of then president Levy Mwanawasa.

And in a speech read on his behalf by Brigadier General Neba Phiri, James said Banda would have loved to bring President Hichilema and Lungu together.

He said it would be beneficial for the two leaders to speak to each other from time to time.

“I will be failing in my duties if I did not bring a reminder to Your Excellency regarding what your brother RB said to you at one time. And I quote: ‘Mr President, go to any country in the world and market Zambia, and don’t listen to people who have not been in presidency to lecture to you on this subject…’ I was there when he spoke to you on these words,” James said. “Mr President, I wish to appeal, and in addition that you have a brother in your predecessor, His Excellency Mr Edgar Chagwa Lungu who was once President. Surely, it would be beneficial for the two of you to speak to each other from time to time.”

James said he saw a lot of good will in President Hichilema’s plans for the country.

“I am taking advantage of this venue we are in to convey this message that Zambia does not need hot temperatures in governance. I bet my brother RB would have loved to bring the two of you together,’’ said James. ‘’I see a lot of good vision and good will in your plans for the country, Your Excellency. This is a plea from an ordinary man from Chiparamba where RB came from in Eastern Province in Chipata.”


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