The President wept, openly – Aide

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Ex-president Banda

The President wept, openly, his press Aide has revealed of President Rupiah Banda when it became clear that he had lost the elections.

Dickson Jere

Dickson Jere shares this in his excerpts of his book “Inside the Presidency” that best describe the events that followed after the election.

Today, the 20th day of September 2018, marks seven years since President Rupiah Bwezani Banda lost the historic Presidential election….I thought of sharing excerpts of my book “Inside the Presidency” that best describe the events that followed after the election…

CHAPTER ONE

The President wept, openly.
His wife Thandiwe Chilongo Banda consoled him by placing her hand on his shoulder gently as he reached for a crystal white handkerchief from his pocket to wipe out the tears. 
It was September 23, 2011.

President Rupiah Bwezani Banda of Zambia had lost the 2011 presidential election the night before and had called for an urgent early-morning press conference at State House. 
Was he going to concede defeat? That was the question on everyone’s lips.

He again broke down in the presence of a horde of local and foreign journalists who swarmed State House. Photographers jostled for space to get the best shots of the Head of State and Commander In-Chief of the Armed Forces before what was sure to be a historic moment whichever way.
Apparently, word had gone round that President Banda had called the press conference to dispute the results – as has become common in African states.

I was his spokesman, press advisor and confidant.
I trembled as I called the press conference to order and sung the national anthem.
Key Presidential advisors and senior staff at State House sat behind the President for solidarity. Others wept when he began flipping through the pages of his speech.

I had spent the night before fixing the speech, which was drafted by his British political consultants; Bell Pottinger, a UK communications firm run by Lord Bell, an experienced political strategist who served as Lady Margaret Thatcher’s political advisor. 
The firm had been hired to assist with the campaign after they had successfully helped Banda win the presidential polls three-years earlier.

The President and I worked throughout that night on the speech, making changes and additions. 
Afterwards he went to bed, leaving me to work out the final version for delivery at the much anticipated morning press conference.

The final official results had not been declared even as we finalized the speech. But we had received credible preliminary figures showing that for the president, it was game over! There was still some hope though, and an insistence by some that we should wait until the last ballots had been counted and the result declared-it was the first past the post-electoral system after all!

The President’s political team insisted, for instance, that their figures showed a clear win for the president. But the President and many in his inner circle knew it was not possible to close the over 100,000-vote gap from the remaining polling stations.

By midnight, the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) chairperson Justice Irene Mambilima announced the official results – the opposition leader Michael Chilufya Sata of the Patriotic Front (PF) had won the presidential race by a majority of 189,000 votes.

His supporters were ecstatic. 
Some marched on the streets in celebration and others attempted to enter State House to force Banda and his family out. But they were blocked as all roads leading to executive mansion were closed.
Armoured vehicles and open vans with heavy artillery on the rooftops patrolled the streets near the Presidential residence.

Some thought the transition would be bloody.
Increased police patrols in the capital Lusaka further amplified speculation that Banda may not concede.
The election had been too close to call until the last votes were in. Some opposition leaders and ministers quietly telephoned the President urging him not to accept the result.
But his inner circle knew that he had already made up his mind and had started packing his personal belongings at Nkhwazi House – the family residence of the Zambian President.

It was the end of an era – the Banda era.
“I have no ill feelings in my heart; there is no malice in my words. Now is the time for me to step aside for a new leader and it is time for me to say goodbye,” the 74-year old President said before he broke down again.
That Press Conference was also my last assignment as State House Spokesman and Presidential Advisor. “

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2 Responses to The President wept, openly – Aide

  1. There’s nothing new there ba Press assistant. We all saw Rupiah Banda’s wailing as his wife looked at him

    Francine
    September 21, 2018 at 5:46 pm
    Reply

    • RB wept for you, and now you are weeping for yourselves with nobody to weep for you.

      abilima
      September 22, 2018 at 1:40 pm
      Reply

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