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President Mnangagwa off to Lusaka for Hichelema inauguration

PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa today leaves for Zambia to join other Heads of State at the inauguration of new Zambian President-elect Hakainde Hichilema in Lusaka tomorrow.

Hichilema’s inauguration is set for the Heroes Stadium in the Zambian capital, and all regional leaders as well as regional opposition parties have been invited.

Hichilema won the recent Zambian presidential election, beating former President Edgar Lungu by almost one million votes.

He garnered 2 810 757 votes, while Mr Lungu trailed with 1 814 201 and conceded defeat, committing to hand over power peacefully.

In his congratulatory message last week, President Mnangagwa wished the new Zambian leader well during his presidential term and pledged to work with him closely in strengthening ties between the two countries.

He assured President-elect Hichilema that Zimbabwe would, in its relations with Zambia, build on the deep historical ties forged between the two nations during Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle, as well on the partnership maintained by outgoing President Edgar Lungu.

“As you assume your term of office, I wish to assure you of my availability to work closely with you to solidify and deepen the cordial relations that exist between our two sister republics for the mutual benefit of our two peoples.

“I also wish to assure you of my readiness to work closely with you at the regional, continental and international levels as we seek to advance the ideals of development, peace and stability,” he said.

Deputy Chief Secretary – Presidential Communications, in the Office of the President and Cabinet, George Charamba, said President Mnangagwa had warmly accepted President-elect Hichilema’s invitation to his inauguration tomorrow in Lusaka in the spirit of SADC collegiality.

Charamba said SADC Heads of State were all behind President-elect Hichilema as he had won the election.

“When the President was in Malawi last week, all SADC heads in attendance agreed that they must attend the inauguration ceremony as part of their support for the political and election process in Zambia, which after all is the cradle of liberation movements in Southern Africa,” he said.

After having contested five previous elections in 2006, 2008, 2011, 2015 and 2016, Hichilema won the 2021 presidential election with over 59 percent of the vote.

He leads the United Party for National Development.

After he was announced as the winner last week, President-elect Hichilema pledged that his government would deliver on the promise of change.

Rebuffing political smear campaigns based on tribe and ethnicity, he urged the public to mark his scorecard after he names his first Cabinet in just over a week’s time after his inauguration.

“We want to send a signal to reunite this country under the One Zambia, One Nation motto. Jobs shall be given on equal merit without looking at one’s surname,” appointing them with an eye on the public interest, he stated.

He extended an olive branch to every political opponent and citizen that did not vote for him, saying he will be a President for all Zambians and promised not to gag media and civil society.

Meanwhile, opposition MDC Alliance president Nelson Chamisa is expected to attend the inauguration. □

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