Editor's Comment

High voter turnout impressive

ZAMBIANS yesterday demonstrated their patriotism and love for our motherland when they peacefully turned out in large numbers to exercise their democratic right to vote in the general elections as well as the referendum.
Reports from most polling stations across the country indicated high voter turnout with people queuing as early as 04:00 hours in some areas to cast their vote.
This is indeed commendable considering that in past elections Zambians have exhibited negative tendencies, of absconding voting despite registering.
The January 20, 2015 presidential election was the worst with only 32 percent voter turnout.
However, the enthusiasm exhibited by Zambians in this year’s election and referendum is a clear indication that people are now more aware of their democratic right to choose preferred leaders.
It is also an indication that Zambians are eager to shape their own destiny through the choice of leaders.
We all know that the choice of leaders in this year’s election will determine the course the country takes in the next five years and beyond.
It is therefore encouraging that Zambians have awakened to this fact by ensuring that their voice is heard in this year’s election.
The high voter turnout is also a sign that Zambia’s democracy is becoming of age where citizens fully understand their participatory role in governance processes.
High voter turnout is actually more important in this year’s election because it is being held under the amended constitution, which stipulates that for any presidential candidate to be declared winner, they must get at least 50 percent + 1 votes.
A high voter turnout is therefore imperative if we are to avert a re-run, which is a further strain on meagre government resources.
It was also heart-soothing that elections yesterday were held under very calm conditions void of any violence.
The streets and public places were almost deserted.
This goes on to show that the sensitisation messages against violence were not falling on deaf ears.
It is also clear that citizens heed the advice to avoid loitering but keep to their homes after voting.
This is to guard against any mob psychology influence which can easily lead to chaos especially in this delicate election period.
Now that the votes have been cast, we join President Lungu in urging all political parties and stakeholders to allow the Electoral Commission of Zambia to do their job without undue influence.
We expect all political parties and stakeholders to exercise maximum patience and restraint as they wait for the results to be compiled by the ECZ.
We know that collating results for a general election is not an easy task, especially with a number of areas which are inaccessible by road.
We are however confident that ECZ is equal to the task.
As ECZ will be receiving results and verifying them, we call for patience and restraint among all stakeholders.
We urge all candidates and political parties to desist from prematurely declaring themselves winners as this has potential to cause anarchy.
Let us allow ECZ, which is mandated by law to declare duly elected candidates as winners, to do so at the appropriate time.
And whatever the outcome, we implore all political players to respect the wish of the people and accept the results.
When all is said and done, let us remember that Zambia is bigger than any individual or political party.
Let us therefore not sacrifice the peace we have enjoyed for over five decades at the altar of self-expediency.

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