Maiko Zulu says, “We have said it before that leadership in Zambia is now a business where players will do anything, even kill to either stay in power or get into power. Gone are the days when leadership was a service and so it’s not surprising that a simple council by-election can become a bloody battle. Politics is now a mafia-like cartel and death seems like a small price to pay and it will get worse as we approach 2021. This is all about the selfishness and greed of politicians. But someone will have to pay for the innocent blood that they shed every day. Zambians need to start reflecting on the political future of the country and whether we need murderers and bloodshed in leadership.”
Competition for political office shouldn’t be a matter of life and death. It is supposed to be a competition to serve and not a competition to kill. It is sad that our elections are turning into battlefields where guns are discharged.
Our elections should serve a self-actualising purpose by confirming the worth and dignity of individual citizens as human beings. Whatever other needs voters may have, participation in an election should serve to reinforce their self-esteem and self-respect. Voting gives people an opportunity to have their say and, through expressing partisanship, to satisfy their need to feel a sense of belonging. Even non-voting satisfies the need of some people to express their alienation from the political community. For precisely these reasons, the long battle for the right to vote and the demand for equality in electoral participation can be viewed as the manifestation of a profound human craving for personal fulfillment.
Zambia cannot be truly democratic until its citizens have the opportunity to choose their representatives through elections that are peaceful, free and fair.
Critical development efforts cannot succeed without a legitimate and democratically elected government that is responsive and accountable to the citizens. Elections provide an important opportunity to advance democratisation and encourage political liberalisation.
Thomas Paine said, “Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it.”
Political or public office is not the platform for pilfering and illegal wealth creation. It is about the altruistic service and welfare to the nation and the voting population. It’s an oath made to God and man to be upright and diligent in managing the resources and assets of the nation efficiently and effectively for uttermost national benefit.
Understanding this basic principle is the most essential foundation to put down before embarking on seeking the mandate of the people through peaceful, transparent, free and fair elections.
Winning elections into public office is not a desperate task, nor is it winning power by any means necessary. It is not about smear campaigning, character assassination or inciting one group, tribe and religion against another just to score cheap political points. It is not about using hate speech or indecent language. It is a contest of ideas, battle of winning majority votes of the hearts and minds of the people, the selling of feasible policies and programmes for bettering the lives of the electorate.
Free, fair and peaceful elections is not hinged on just one person or political party alone working to ensure peace but on a group of individuals and all the stake-holding mass with one goal of working to ensure a peaceful process before, during and after the elections. It will take the collective effort and activity of an evil minority group or individual to mess up the fine process because of the ulterior and selfish motives they have.
Polls, as we all know from times of old, should be about credibility, integrity and trust in the candidates, political ideology and the team with the requisite competences to manage the resources and assets efficiently for the benefit of majority of the nation’s people.
In ensuring a peaceful and successful election, the behaviour of politicians and party members is crucial.
Individuals and parties seeking political mandate and power should know that elections are not a must win affair. The nation needs to stay intact even after the election process. The environment will be competitive and hot but must remain peaceful, calm and safe, and whether winners or losers in an election, the nation should remain united as one people, one country with a goal which is peace and harmony. Without the electorate, the elected has no one to govern.
Every competition has laid-down rules and regulations which must be followed to the letter.
Everything should be done in moderation and the required peace will be attained. This is where true leadership, maturity and respect for the rule of law comes in.
The law enforcement and security agencies should be firm but fair; they should not be seen to be siding with the ruling party. It is a recipe for chaos. They should mediate fairly and not be attached to the apron strings of the party in power.
Democracy may be expensive both in form and structure but is way better than a despotic military dictatorship, hence the need to learn to live by it.
Let us remember that there can always be one winner in every election – a bitter and non-negotiable truth.