Saturday, July 30, 2011

Preparing for Sept 20

Preparing for Sept 20
By The Post
Fri 29 July 2011, 14:00 CAT

Now that the election day has been announced, September 20, 2011, we are conscious of the crucial role which each individual citizen should play in choosing the leaders who will create the Zambia we want to live in. The voters should use their votes for the good of Zambia, as opposed to the good of a particular political party, group or individual.

Voters should vote for the candidates who have proved themselves accountable to the electorate, for the common good. They should choose a representative who is courageous in defending truth and justice for all, who is completely honest in fulfilling public and private responsibilities.

All our voters should use their votes to make sure that the right person is elected. Not to vote may mean the wrong person being elected. If one cannot in good conscience vote for a candidate that meets the required standards, one should not vote for that candidate, whatever the consequences.

Parliament should not have members who let us down morally and intellectually.

We urge all our voters to vote according to their conscience, in accordance with the highest human values without allowing themselves to be pressured or dictated to by some godfathers, by bribes, threats, self-interest and so on and so forth. We should vote freely, we cannot accept zones, sole candidates, family succession and so on and so forth.

There is need for us to keep and respect the secrecy of the vote. Both before and after the vote, the voters should not state or expect others to state the way they voted. This is the only way that complete personal freedom may be safeguarded.

We welcome Rupiah Banda’s call on all political parties and all candidates, be they at councillor, parliamentary or presidential level, to conduct themselves with integrity, honour and fairness during the campaigns. We agree with Rupiah that “Zambia has no need for lies, smears, political thuggery and negative campaigning”. If the spirit of what Rupiah is saying were to animate all our political parties and all our candidates, we would not witness the wrangling, bickering, lies, slander, malice and power struggling which leaves the public dismayed and disheartened.

It is easier to say good things than to do good. Rupiah as a key facilitator of these elections, should realise that he has a serious responsibility to match his actions and deeds with his words, the beautiful words he has expressed. As a facilitator of the elections, Rupiah should ensure that the concerns of all key players are adequately addressed. There are concerns being raised about the printing of ballot papers. There are key political players who strongly feel that the way the ballot papers are going to be printed opens great possibilities for rigging. These fears should not be simply dismissed. There is need for Rupiah to sit down with these key political players and ensure that their concerns are adequately addressed.

As we have stated before, it does not help to call for peaceful, free and fair elections when one is conducting oneself in a manner that creates conditions for suspicion, conflict and unfair competition. To have peaceful, free and fair elections, certain conditions have to prevail in our country and in our hearts. There ought to be a conducive atmosphere. Rupiah has to agree with the key opposition on the conditions under which these elections will be held.

Rupiah says Zambia has no need for lies, smears, political thuggery and negative campaigning. This is true, Zambia indeed has no need for that type of election campaigning. But unfortunately, Rupiah and the political party he leads, are the worst culprits when it comes to lies, smears, political thuggery and negative campaigning. Just the other day Rupiah was praising the lies, smears and negative campaigning that his agent, Chanda Chimba, has been carrying out.

Even Rupiah himself knows very well that the campaign programmes they have been running with Chanda are anchored on lies, smears and negative campaigning. There is no truth, there is no fairness, there is no decency in these campaigns of theirs. But these are things Rupiah and his friends have been supporting and financing. One wonders if Rupiah really means what he said. Of course we know what Rupiah read yesterday was a product of speechwriters, spin-doctors trying to make him look and sound statesman-like, trying to make him look and sound good.

Rupiah doesn’t seem to believe in any of those things. Rupiah has never conducted his campaigns on those lines. Where is the fairness in Rupiah’s abuse of the state-owned and government-controlled media? One who is fair cannot use institutions and services that should be available to all others to their total exclusion. Where is the honour in Rupiah’s deriding and insulting of others, calling them mambalas and all sorts of names? Where is the integrity in Rupiah’s abuse of government resources and facilities to keep himself in power?

If this statement demonstrates a change of heart on Rupiah’s part to do that which is right, then we stand a very good chance of having elections that are peaceful, free and fair.

However, we shouldn’t deceive ourselves. Rupiah is not going to change so easily and so quickly. What may help change Rupiah is only the position the great majority of our people take on these issues; their rejection of lies, smears, political thuggery and negative campaigning. If Rupiah realises that there will be no political profit in engaging in these practices, then he will have no choice but to do that which he thinks will gain him votes.

Rupiah should not be allowed to conduct these elections in a manner that puts others at an unfair disadvantage. There ought to be transparency in everything, including the printing of ballot papers. The only thing that should be secret should only be the act of voting itself.

Rupiah says “we do not want these elections to be marred with irregularities,” and reminds “all Zambians that election observers will be invited and that the eyes of the world will be upon us”.

A fundamental element of democracy in any society is the space given to freely choose leaders in a free and fair election. Free and fair elections in choosing leaders are absolutely necessary in a democratic process. It is sad when elections are marred with unfairness and irregularities. It is essential for Rupiah to ensure that the forthcoming elections are not marred with unfairness and irregularities. Respect for human dignity requires that elections are conducted well.

Elections should never be a matter of fraud or coercion since that would break the sacred character of democracy. It is also not enough to invite observers but refuse to allow them to do that which they need to do to ensure effective, efficient and orderly monitoring. In this regard, election observers require parallel vote tabulation for them and others to ensure that tallying of vote totals is conducted as openly as possible and there is an effective and efficient verification mechanism in place. This is needed so that citizens are confident that the results are accurate and that the government that results from these elections does, indeed, rest upon their consent and the election result is a true reflection of the will of the people.

The forthcoming elections will provide all Zambians with a unique opportunity to show their political maturity and their sincere aspirations for peace and harmony anchored in justice.



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