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Zambia’s youth breathe new life in their democracy
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Zambia’s youth breathe new life in their democracy

Zambia young people have played a huge role in electing their new government in what Blessings Hara, a 19-year-old Correspondent from  Zambia has called a revival of democracy. In addition to using their voices on social media, young people 34 years and younger made up 54% of registered voters and they turned out in large numbers to vote. Blessings Hara was among those who voted for the first time in an election with a 70.6% voter turnout. She argues that there are many lessons to be learnt from the August 2021 elections.

Africa has battled with leadership problems for a long time. Our political leaders are infamous for refusing to hand over power to victorious oppositions at the end of elections. 

Zambia could have suffered the same fate during our general elections in August this year. However, after trying for twenty years to get into power, the United Party for National Development (UPND) finally beat the ruling Patriotic Front and a peaceful transfer of power followed.  

There’s a lot we can learn from Zambia’s elections this year. Firstly, social media truly is powerful. Before the elections, there were reports of scandals and embezzlement circulating about the then ruling party, the Patriotic Front (PF).

Through social media posts from private media agencies like Zambian Watchdog and Mwebantu,I personally became more aware of what might have been going on, and what I ought to do with my power as a young voter.

There was an infamous report that the PF party Chairperson said Zambians should eat sweet potatoes and other local alternatives if they cannot afford bread in these economically challenging times. 

This, as petty as it might seem, upset many Zambian youths on social media because it seemed insensitive. It seemed like he didn’t care about the grievances of our people. The PF party however argued that these comments had been distorted by sections of the media.

This election also taught us that young people possess enormous power in African politics and that we can revive a democracy. 

There is a very serious level of unemployment amongst university graduates in Zambia which caused many youths to vote for the opposition during this election.

Voting became a pact of sorts amongst Zambia’s youth, thanks to the influence of social media. Tik Tok and Facebook were overrun by hilarious jokes about the president being put on Ku Wire, a Zambian term for being cancelled (yes, we do have our own version of cancel culture!) 

It became a national trend, a sort of fashionable thing to get registered as a voter no matter what it took, all to defeat the party that told us to eat bland, flavourless sweet potatoes. The party that could have done more about unemployment. 

Zambian youth turned out in great numbers to vote and I proudly was one of them. I voted for the first time as a nineteen-year-old and I am proud my first vote was revolutionary.

Finally, we Zambians hail our nation as the Beacon of Peace in the same way Ethiopia calls itself the Horn of Africa or Uganda the Pearl of Africa. This is because we have been known to hold peace and unity among our national values and have had peaceful transfers of power throughout our history as a democratic nation- it did not change with this year’s elections.

There have even been reports and pictures of our former president, Edgar Chagwa Lungu, and our new president, Hakainde Hichilema, having a good laugh and sharing knowledge at a meeting held at the home of our fourth president of Zambia, Rupiah Banda’s home, post the elections. 

Zambia truly is a beacon of peace and democracy.

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Photo credit: Shutterstock

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About Blessing Hara: I am really passionate about telling real-life issues in my community and the world at large through creatively spun stories. I am really interested in creating new worlds and acknowledging my very own world through creative writing. I aspire to write novels and other literary works in the future, that will be really impactful to society and its fight against injustices and inequality. I currently am a writer on medium.com, a high school tutor and an A-level student at the African Leadership Academy in Johannesburg, South Africa.

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?
To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles

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