Ex-President Rupiah Bwezani Banda of Zambia has urged his fellow compatriots to put the interest of Zambia as an enduring democracy above their parochial ones and “work together, united as One Nation, One Zambia”
Banda, who was president from 2008 to 2011 but lost his bid for second term, has advised “the winning and losing parties” in today’s presidential election to find strength and fortitude to maintain peace by accepting the results.
In a statement on Sunday, Banda stated that his experience of both losing and winning an election had taught him to always maintain peace.
“I have had the unique experience of having been on both sides, winning and losing an election, and I know that it takes strength and fortitude to maintain peace, but I also know that it is worth it and I know that we can do it,” he stated.
“Our democracy is a treasure, but it does not come for free. We must all work hard to ensure that we have a peaceful vote and peaceful acceptance of the results. We must put the interests of the nation ahead of our own selfish interests, and work together, united as One nation, One Zambia.”
The election was called for today following the death of former President Michael Sata in office in October 2014. The law requires that such an election be held within 90 days.
Banda urged supporters from all political parties to respect one another and defend their rights to participate in the election without fear or intimidation from anyone.
“We must remember that we are all equal, and that we are all Zambians united in purpose even if our ideas and beliefs may be diverse,” he stated.
“Passions may run high, but let us channel those passions in a positive manner to reject violence in all its forms. What we need is calm, not confrontation; peace, not pangas; understanding, not anger and respect, not provocation.”
Banda called on Zambians to treasure the existing democracy and work to ensure that it is maintained.
Meanwhile Police Inspector-General Stella Libongani has announced that the number of police officers policing today’s election in 6,456 polling stations has been increased from the initial 7,500 to 8,300.
“This is in a bid to ensure political parties adhere to the electoral code of conduct and maintain peace and unity before and after tomorrow’s presidential election”, she said in a statement Saturday.
“In view of the forthcoming presidential election, the police wish to assure the nation that enough security measures have been put in place to make sure that the electorate vote in a peaceful environment.
Ms Libongani urged the electorate not to feel intimidated by the presence of police officers as they will be there to protect them and the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) personnel, equipment and materials.
“In an event of anyone breaching the electoral code of conduct, such a report should be brought to the attention of the police officers at the polling station for immediate action,” she said.
The IGP urged members of the public to leave the polling stations soon after casting their vote, failure to which they will be forced out by police.
“During this period, political leaders and stakeholders are being urged to restrain their cadres from being involved in acts of violence. They should also advise their cadres not to camp at the totalling (collation) centre in Lusaka but leave the task to their representatives,” she said.
Ms Libongani in a statement released by police spokesperson Charity Chanda, said “police officers will be on high alert to arrest and prosecute all those wo will be involved in any form of electoral violence”.