IT IS very sad and unfortunate that war drums were being sounded at a stakeholders’ meeting between the Electoral Commission of Zambia and opposition political parties in Lusaka yesterday.
The war cry by the political leaders, led by UPND’s Hakainde Hichilema, Wynter Kabimba of the Rainbow Party and MMD’s Nevers Mumba, was frightening to say the least and totally out of tune with the spirit and letter of Zambia as a democracy and Christian nation.
When at this late hour our leaders call for the postponement of the August 11 general election and cancellation of the Referendum on the Bill of Rights it boggles the mind. How possible! Where were they all this time? Can it be done?
We understand their concerns which they have eloquently submitted to ECZ chairperson Mr Justice Esau Chulu for urgent consideration. He has also explained why Dubai seemed a better option. In the case of Ren-Form CC company, the ECZ gave eight reasons why its bid was rejected. We thought that should have been enough.
And Mr Justice Chulu promised to look into their grievances, perhaps consult widely and then get back to them at a later date.
What worries all Zambians is the anger, unfettered language and dire threats being issued by our leaders in the opposition. It was as if Rome was on fire yesterday.
The elections are still almost 90 days away and there is room for debate, consultation, adjustment and probably changes to some of the issues and decisions which have caused acrimony.
It is, therefore, uncalled for and unpatriotic for anyone to call for war at this stage, claiming that the ECZ was impervious to reason and that it did not want to listen to their concerns. But hearing what the ECZ are saying, this is not the case.
Regardless of what is at stake in this election (and we can understand the fears of the UPND president that he could lose for the fifth time) our opposition leaders’ priority must be to preserve the peace, unity and security of the republic and the people they wish to govern.
After 51 years of peace, political and tribal harmony, Zambians do not know war to the extent that when a gunshot sounds in any public place, Zambians out of ignorance, run there to see what is happening – instead of running away.
Is this the scenario our leaders want to radically change? At what price and for what reason? Just to win an election? We disagree.
Zambia is too dear to all of us to sacrifice her on the alter of political ego, selfishness or desperation. Indeed Zambians have only one country in which they have invested everything. Fleeing to neighboring countries as refugees is definitely not an option.
Debate, dialogue, consensus-building and the spirit of give and take are the four pillars of democracy and good governance.
The Election 2016 Campaign has just kicked off. We still have three months to go before August 11. This is enough time for the contestants to unveil their manifestos, travel the length and breadth of Zambia to scout for votes and then win or lose.
There is no need for panic and desperation. It is not over yet.