Zambia goes to the polls tomorrow and the tempo between the two front runners, Patriotic Front and UPND, is equally highly charged.
There is a very serious worry among observers that due to the incessant campaign against the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ), an impression has been created to suggest that definite steps have been taken to rig the outcome of the forthcoming election.
Various modalities of rigging have been advanced starting with chemicals used for printing to disenfranchise some strongholds, disappearing marks on the ballot paper, pre-marked ballot papers and computer-based manipulation of results.
All these have come to naught as the ECZ has dispelled each of the allegations.
But like all allegations especially those that cannot be substantiated, it is the sheer mention of irregularity that plants the seed of doubt.
It is important therefore that political parties should take it upon themselves to educate their members about the nature of this election and the possibility that they might lose.
In any contest one party must lose and as of now nobody can tell which party will win although some unguarded statements have suggested otherwise.
The tone of contestation has become more aggressive and it is likely that the situation will get worse in the next few hours before the results are actually announced.
Although the police have assured us of peace, this may not hold where those to be policed are determined to break the law because they feel aggrieved.
Our appeal is to all political parties to cage their cadres and assure them another presidential and general election will be held in this country in the next sixteen months or so. Whatever is lost today may be regained at the next election.
There is no need to burn bridges by applying a scorched earth strategy that provokes confusion and violence.
It must be remembered that elections come and go but the people will always remain and indeed wherever there are people there is bound to be friction and consequent fall-outs.
Democracy is about numbers, therefore the destiny of this country lies in the hands of those who will line up to cast their votes. It is these people who will put a president into State House.
It is imperative therefore that as many people as possible vote in order to ensure that the popular voice is affirmed.
A poor turnout will rob the exercise of the legitimacy and credibility that it so richly deserves.
Elections must not only be credible but legitimate in the context of canvassing the widest possible choices that are advanced by political parties.
It means that political parties have a duty and responsibility of mobilising in order to enhance the chance of their policies gracing the legislative house.
It will be counter-productive for the electorate to stay away although chances are very high considering the weather and the fact that this is a by-election. While acknowledging the real possibility of voter apathy it is none the less imperative that all Zambians of goodwill should encourage, cajole and indeed inspire others to vote and vote wisely for the country’s leadership.