THE die is cast as Zambians go to the poll today to elect their sixth republican President following the demise of President Michael Sata on October 28 last year.
It is the third time in six years that Zambians have gone to the polls, the first one being after the death of third President Levy Mwanawasa in 2008 and the general election of 2011 which saw Mr Sata defeat President Rupiah Banda.
There could be little doubt that both the electorate and the Presidential aspirants have been fatigued with the electioneering that normally comes but once in five years.
But the country’s Constitution demands that a presidential election is held within 90 days of the death of the incumbent, which is what is happening now.
Zambia could have avoided the 2008 and 2015 presidential election had a new and people-driven Constitution with a presidential running mate clause been enacted by the both the MMD and the Patriotic Front (PF) Governments.
Following the announcement by Acting President Guy Scott that the presidential election would be held on January 20, several presidential aspirants announced their participation but the number of the candidates on the ballot paper was eventually reduced to 11 after others withdrew.
Those seeking to be elected President today include Edith Nawakwi of Forum for Democracy and Development, Elias Chipimo of the National Restoration Party, Edgar Lungu of the Patriotic Front (PF), Nevers Mumba of the MMD, Brigadier-General Godfrey Miyanda of the Heritage Party, Hakainde Hichilema of the UPND and Peter Sinkamba of the Green Party.
Other presidential candidates include Ludwig Sondashi of Forum for Democratic Alternatives, Dan Pule of Christian Democratic Party (CDP), Erick Chanda of the 4th Revolution and Tilyenji Kaunda of United National Independence Party. Although Zambians have 11 presidential candidates, the race has been essentially reduced to a two-man horse race between Mr Lungu, riding on the roller coaster of incumbency and Mr Hichilema who has made significant gains in popularity after the defeat of the MMD by the PF.
The campaign trail between Mr Lungu and Mr Hichilema has been a cat and mouse chase with each one having crafted a well-orchestrated campaign strategy to sell themselves to their Zambian supporters.
Mr Lungu, who is the Defence and Justice minister, has been riding on the score sheet of the PF legacy, promising to continue with President Sata’s vision on social and economic development.
Mr Hichilema, in his campaign has been capitalizing on the PF’s failure to enact a new and people-driven Constitution, promising to transform Zambia and do so next year.
Zambians probably have German theoretical physicist Albert Einstein’s words to rest on as he once said: “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”
Although sounding confident and certain of victory, all the candidates would welcome a miracle so that they are elected president within the next 24 hours.
The die is certainly cast.