5 April 2012

Africa: RB Lectures On Giving Up Power

FORMER Republican president, Rupiah Banda has said African leaders should learn to accept defeat in elections like he did in last year's polls.

He said although he had lost power, he was comforted that he was among few African leaders who had accepted election results.

In his maiden lecture at Boston University in the United States of America on Monday evening, Mr Banda said the world was usually surprised when an African head of State accepted an election loss.

"One of the reasons I am here is because I have gained notoriety, hopefully temporarily, for having lost, not won, my last election," Mr Banda said.

He said his administration tried to improve the system of fighting corruption, but the communication system was inadequate for the Zambian people to understand.

Mr Banda said the world should not be surprised when an African leader left power after an election and noted that this was disappointing.

"In a way, I am grateful to President Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal, who just stepped aside after being defeated at the ballot box by Mackay Sall, perhaps lifting the burden somewhat from my shoulders - though of course it is entirely a different question when a leader has been in power for more than a decade," Mr Banda said.

He was proud of the achievements he made, including the peaceful handover of power as that provided an opportunity for other leaders to emerge. Mr Banda said he was proud that while in office, the Zambian economy grew to more than seven per cent a year, despite the 2008 global financial crisis.

"I am also proud of my campaign. In an election contested by three major parties and seven smaller parties, our party secured the votes of 35 per cent of the country, and lost by a narrow margin of around 180, 000 votes in a hard-fought contest," Mr Banda said.

He said his goal from the beginning of his career in public service was to leave Zambia more united as a nation and a better place to live in.

Mr Banda was hopeful that history would show that he was successful and that this was not a modest goal.

The people of Zambia, he said, had their own goals which could not be met without a fair system and strong economic growth.

He said his attention was paid to protecting the jobs in the mining sector during the global economic crisis which enabled Zambia to withstand the effects.

"In fact one mining company did close and we took ownership of that mine and immediately found investors who were ready to keep it operational.

"By doing this, we were able to save thousands of jobs in Zambia whilst mines in other countries around the world continued to shut down operations and shed jobs," he said.

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