By SIMON MUNTEMBA and OLIVER SAMBOKO
HEROES Stadium was yesterday turned into the Red Sea, as thousands of UPND supporters turned up in the ruling party’s regalia to witness the inauguration of Zambia’s seventh President. With some supporters from out of town arriving at the venue during the night, the stadium quickly filled up by 07:00 hours with scores still trying to fight their way in.
They were however, politely turned away by security forces. Some were redirected to Woodlands and Nkoloma stadium to go and follow proceedings on television. As the country prepared to witness the event, People from all walks of life, started trooping into the National Heroes Stadium on Monday evening and they spent the night there partying while others patiently for their new president. Having braved the cold and heat, the crowd patiently waited for the arrival of the star of the moment, President Hakainde Hichilema and his wife Mutinta. As foreign dignitaries trooped in, the anxious crowd cheered and occasionally broke out into the Mexican wave.
Around the capital city, scores of residents lined up along the route to catch a glimpse of the new President and the out going regime leader, Mr Edgar Lungu. It was a joyous moment for several UPND supporters and Zambians when Mr Hichilema was finally sworn in as Zambian seventh President at a colourful ceremony in Lusaka after a landslide poll victory that ushered in a smooth handover of power.
Driven into the Heroes Stadium slightly after 11: 00 hours in a white Nissan Infiniti, Mr Hichilema who was accompanied by the elegantly dressed First Lady, Mutinta , who was decked out in all pinky, was welcomed to loud jubilations of the full packed stadium. There were splashes of magnificent, joyful traditional dresses in the ensembles worn by many of the attendees.
When the car door was opened for him, by a uniformed Defence Force officer, he confidently walked on the red carpet and was received by the service Chiefs for a Presidential salute. Clad in a royal blue suit with a red neck tie, Mr Hichilema thereafter proceed to the swearing-in dais. As the procession was in process, the audience could not stop cheering him whenever he was shown on the big screens within the stadium.
Mr Hichilema entered the stadium as people erupted into deafening cheers. The outgoing president on the other hand who was escorted by his daughter Tasila Mwansa arrived bit later at around 11:34 to hand over the instruments of power to the new president.
After being sworn in by acting Chief Justice Michael Musonda President Hichilema was given a 21 gun salute and later inspected a guard of honour while the Zambia Air Force flew over the stadium to salute the new president. The skies were later filled with balloons which were let loose to signify the dawn of a new era much to the jubilation of the over 60,000 spectators that attended the event.