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Friday, 4 January, 2002, 15:58 GMT
Verdict divided on Zambia's poll
Africa Media Watch
Africa Media Watch this week concentrates on the reaction to the general election in Zambia.

"Chiluba's president"

The Post, Zambia's leading independent newspaper, says that Levy Mwanawasa, the hand-picked successor of outgoing President Frederick Chiluba, who narrowly won the presidential election held on 27 December, "is a president of Frederick Chiluba, by Chiluba for Chiluba."


Levy Mwanawasa is a president of Frederick Chiluba, by Chiluba for Chiluba.

The Post

It describes candidature as a product of Chiluba's "political engineering" and slams his victory as "fraudulent".

The Information Dispatch is less forthright, but also concerned.

It says the results "have created anxiety among electorates and the opposition, a situation that is likely to interfere with the peace that people have continued to enjoy since independence in 1964."

However, The Times of Zambia, a pro-government newspaper, urges all losers in the poll to be "magnanimous enough to accept defeat and turn a page in their political career" in order to reflect that "the era of democracy in Zambia is here to stay".

"Not conceding defeat by any loser is the only sure thing of getting a thumbs-down," it says.

Rigging claims

The Post accuses the ruling party, the Movement for Multiparty Democracy, MMD, of rigging the elections for Mr Mwanawasa.

"Contrary to Mwanawasa's pledge to be a president of all the people including those who did not vote for him and those who did not even register as voters, he is a president for Chiluba and the MMD minority."

A little over a quarter of the electorate voted for Mr Mwanawasa.

"It requires little intelligence - if a little is all one has - to realise that only 28.8 per cent voted Mwanawasa, and 71.2 per cent found him to be a 'rotten' and useless politician not worth their vote," The Post adds.

It further warns against minority rule.

"Zambians should brace themselves for more tyranny, intolerance and corrupt rule. How else can a minority maintain its hegemony on the majority other than by subjugation, suppression, repression, through conquer and corrupt rule?"

The Times of Zambia disagrees.


The joke of rigging is lame and it won't wash with the Zambian people.

The Times of Zambia
"The joke of rigging is lame and it won't wash with the Zambian people. Even a European Union (EU) observer quoted in Europe said he wished that the continent could ape some of the trends in Zambia's electoral process. That's a plus for Zambia."

The paper also questions the intentions of the defeated candidates.

"Bad losers who blame their loss on imaginary rigging are driven not by an earnest desire to help the democratic process, but a desire to help themselves."

The Post, however, argues that these elections were organised by Mr Chiluba's government, under his supervision.

It holds him "personally responsible for all this mess". It claims that Mr Chiluba needed Mwanawasa to win these elections at all costs purely for personal reasons.

The paper accuses the outgoing president of wanting "to preserve and protect himself from being prosecuted and persecuted by the opposition".

"An opposition electoral victory would have resulted in Chiluba losing his immunity, being left totally naked for prosecution," the paper adds.

The Information Dispatch warns that the post-election situation is likely to create tension for the newly-elected president as all local government and parliamentary seats have been won by the opposition in the capital, Lusaka.

However, it blames the opposition parties for the outcome of the elections "because they failed to unite in their misguided belief that they would all go to State House".

Zimbabwe election

Across the border in Zimbabwe, the state-controlled media blamed the rigging controversy in the Zambian poll on EU election observers - who are not being allowed to monitor their own polls in March.


The Zambian elections are a major eye opener for Zimbabwe's forthcoming presidential elections as they have revealed the obnoxious interference of the European Union in African affairs

The Herald
"The Zambian elections are a major eye opener for Zimbabwe's forthcoming presidential elections as they have revealed the obnoxious interference of the European Union in African affairs," The Herald says.

However, Zimbabwe's privately-owned Daily News heaps praise on the Zambian election.

"If the government of Zimbabwe was amenable to learning from good lessons, the people would hope the recent elections in Zambia would provide a wealth of education for the presidential election in March."

It points out that there was no political violence reported among the competing parties in Zambia during the entire election campaign.

"The maturity of the Zambian voters and their parties has to be commended. Other ruling and opposition parties in Africa ought to draw lessons from this fine example."

And the Daily News urges the people of Zimbabwe to follow suit.

"The people of Zimbabwe can learn some valuable lessons from this example. In the end, it takes a lot of courage for people to determine their own destiny. It is not a picnic, especially if you are confronted by a violent, murderous foe such as Zanu-PF."

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

See also:

03 Jan 02 | Africa
Concern mounts over Zambia poll
03 Jan 02 | Media reports
Zambia president's inaugural speech
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