The guest list for the inauguration of Zambia’s newly elected President, Hakainde Hichilema, is creating buzz. Hichilema, a former opposition leader, extended invitations to oppositions leaders of several countries in the Southern African Development Community.
The move which is seen as unprecedented is also seen as a message to other long-ruling leaders in the region. Hichilema will be inaugurated on Tuesday in Lusaka.
Opposition leaders from Zimbabwe, Botswana and South Africa will be amongst dignitaries honouring the installation of Hakainde Hichilema as Zambia’s newest President.
He won the Presidential election last week with a resounding majority – beating incumbent President Edgar Lungu.
When news of Zimbabwe’s Nelson Chamisa confirming his attendance at the inauguration – social media exploded. Many praised Hichilema – saying the move recognised the important role of opposition parties in democracies.
Political analyst Frederick Golooba-Mutebi says it’s unusual for a President-Elect to invite opposition leaders, however, Hichilema has strong relationship with the likes of Chamisa and South Africa’s Mmusi Maimane.
“His personal friends, given they been facing the same problems of trying to bring about change against parties or incumbents, who are entrenched or resist any kind of change. There is a chance they’ve been in communication as each one of them were doing their own campaign,” says Golooba-Mutebi.
Golooba-Mutebi says this also sends a strong message of solidarity and encouragement to opposition movements. Hichilema was running for President for a sixth time and his win has been taken by others as a sign that the winds of change have come for the region.
Leader of One South Africa Movement Mmusi Maimane is one of them.
Golooba-Mutebi says Hichilema may be trying to send a message to long-serving leaders and ruling parties.
“It’s also a message to leaders and opposition groups in other countries. No matter how long it takes, no matter the difficulties, in the end when the time for change has come, change is unstoppable. It provides a great deal of support of moral support to opposition leaders who put up with a lot including violence and unfair incarceration,” says Golooba-Mutebi.
Several heads of state have confirmed their attendance including South Africa’s Cyril Ramaphosa, Lazarus Chakwera from Malawi and Botswana’s Mokgweetsi Masisi.