Morris Mkwate recently in Lusaka, Zambia
Newly-elected Zambian President Edgar Lungu took Oath of Office yesterday, pledging to unite the nation and implement the ruling Patriotic Front’s development agenda.
President Mugabe — who attended the ceremony alongside other regional dignitaries — said Zimbabwe will soon invite Mr Lungu and work to complete “integration processes” that his predecessor, President Michael Sata, and Harare initiated.
Cde Mugabe also paid homage to Zambia for being “the cradle of independent Zimbabwe” and helping rid southern Africa of colonialism.
Mr Lungu was sworn in, in front of about 40 000 jubilant Zambians at the newly-constructed Heroes Stadium.
Other dignitaries present included Prime Minister Barnabus Sibusiso Dlamini of Swaziland; Zambia’s founding President Dr Kenneth Kaunda; former president Mr Rupiah Banda; ex-Interim President Dr Guy Scott and Cde Sata’s widow, Dr Christine Kaseba.
Arriving in an all-terrain truck, Mr Lungu disembarked near the entrance and pumped the PF’s clenched fist symbol into the air, drawing cheers and ululation from the crowd as he walked to the podium.
Acting Chief Justice Lombe Chibesakunda administered the Oath of Office and oversaw the swearing-in, which led to Mr Lungu receiving Symbols of Office from Dr Scott.
The new Zambian leader punctuated his address with a moment of silence to honour Cde Sata whose death triggered the January 20 by-election.
He also sang the song “Rock of Ages” in Bemba, in remembrance of the fallen leader.
Mr Lungu — who received 807 925 votes against his arch-rival Hichilema Hakainde’s 780 168 — warned that tribalism threatens national cohesion and advocated unity.
He disclosed that he would appoint his Cabinet today.
“There is no room for rancour or settling of personal scores. . .The principle ‘One Zambia, One Nation’ cannot be sacrificed for expediency. We must remain true to the values of our founding fathers.
“We should now move forward as a healed and united nation.”
At the ceremony, President Mugabe implored all Zambians to accept the election outcome and focus on serving their country’s interests.
He expressed confidence in President Lungu’s ability to inspire accelerated development and unity of purpose.
“The maturity exhibited by all stakeholders in this electoral process is a source of pride for Sadc and for Africa. This historic occasion marks the beginning of a new political leadership in Zambia.
“I salute the millions of Zambians who participated in this democratic process testifying that the democratic culture is taking root in Southern Africa. The smooth transition we are experiencing today, after the untimely passing away of the late President Michael Sata, is partly the product of institutional reforms that we entrenched as the Sadc family.
“The peace and tranquility that we enjoy in our region, is one among many positives in our efforts to turn around the fortunes of our region. It gives us the opportunity to direct our efforts towards the welfare of the region.”
At a luncheon at State House, President Mugabe indicated that Zimbabwe-Zambia co-operation would continue firmly under President Lungu.
He said Zimbabweans and their northern neighbours were one despite being separated by the Zambezi River.
He also expressed gratitude to Zambia for helping liberate Zimbabwe and other southern African countries.
“Cde Lungu, we shall be inviting you not only in Sadc, but Zimbabwe as well. We have a mission, but I will not mention it. The people want you. Sata left a process unfinished; a process of integrating our two countries.
“We called ourselves ‘Siamese twins’. The imperialists knew that and called us Northern and Southern Rhodesia.”
He also said: “Once again I would want to express – on behalf of Sadc and also on behalf of Zimbabwe and, indeed, on behalf of my own family – our very deep gratitude and appreciation for being at this event. It is an event that conjures memories; memories of our struggle.
“When we come to Zambia, we know where we have come to: the cradle of Zimbabwe. That is where independent Zimbabwe was born. And we don’t fail to recognise that. So, president after president, after KK, had also that message from us. They heard it because here we have bases where our cadres used to be.
“So, coming here, we are also having our memories revived of how dear, the very important place that Zambia has in our hearts, in our countries and among our people. And so, Edgar Lungu, you are inheriting that country, a great country that made great sacrifices.
“Chipolopolo (Zambia’s senior men’s football team) might play and lose today, but one thing that you will never lose is the birth you gave to Southern Africa. And so, our congratulations have that sentiment behind them.”
President Mugabe returned home after the luncheon.
He was received at Harare International Airport by Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa; Defence Minister Sydney Sekeramayi; Harare Provincial Affairs Minister Miriam Chikukwa; Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet Dr Misheck Sibanda; service chiefs and senior Government officials.