THERE can only be one winner in any contest and an election is no exception.
Yesterday, Zambians across the country cast their votes to elect a president to preside over the affairs of the country for the next one and a half years following the death of President Michael Sata in October last year.
We had 11 presidential contenders on the ballot paper and only one will be declared winner and there will only be one president at a time.
Former president Rupiah Banda has set the best example in Zambia’s political system when he demonstrated statesmanship by accepting defeat when he lost power to President Michael Sata and it is our hope that those who will lose in this election must be ready to accept the decision of the people.
Mr Banda has advised that an election is a battle for the wits and that those who lose should be ready to accept defeat and thank the electorate.
While in the opposition, Mr Sata restrained his supporters from going into the streets and called for calm when he lost the election in 2008 when there were fears that the country could be thrown into chaos.
Mr Sata always told his supporters to avoid violence, telling them that their time would come and indeed, in 2011, Zambians emphatically voted for him.
This has been a contest to govern the country and it is the governed who should decide who leads them and this therefore calls for ingenuity and humility to respect the wishes of the citizens.
This was not a do or die contest and when Zambians choose one out of the 11 candidates, it does not mean that they hate the other 10 but that it is a message that they did not agree with the pledges of the other contestants.
This would also mean that the voters would be telling the losers to get back to their drawing board and revise their messages so that come the next election, their messages would resonate with the electorate.
There have been sentiments from some political leaders that they would not accept the results if they would not be in their favour because, according to them, victory is all they know.
But this is a contest where there are winners and losers and only one of them would emerge victorious.
We have one country which is Zambia and if our politicians loved the country as they have been professing in their campaigns, then it is our expectation that they would be ready to accept the verdict of citizens.
We cannot afford to set this country ablaze purely because one has lost an election.
We understand that emotions are high in any contest but that should not be the reason to throw away reason and risk the peace and unity the country has been enjoying in its 50 years of independence.
We want to see our political leaders to shake hands and congratulate the winner while on the other hand, the victor embraces the losers calling for peace and working together for the good of the country.