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My letter to Zambians

We must have an environment where registered voters must not fear but turn up in large numbers to exercise their right to vote. Yes, key in our struggle for independence was the right to vote.
I urge you, my brother and my sister, that wherever you are, go and vote. Let us encourage our family members to go out and vote. Let us turn up in large numbers. Let us exercise our right to vote.
This is the way we can honour those who struggled for our independence. Let us vote in order to honour those who worked for the peace and unity of our beloved nation.
The society cannot function without everyone’s input. We need each other, whether we are members of the ruling party, members of opposition, or those who do not belong to political parties.
We must give violence some “Zero” tolerance. To stamp it out, we must monitor violence amongst us. The police, electoral officials, and each political party should have records of how much violence happened at different times.
We need to start seeing that political violence numbers and types go down. Each year, month, and day that comes must have less violence than before. We must reach the point of zero violence. Reaching zero violence is very possible if we, the party leaders and our members, dedicate ourselves to the principle of zero violence. We must practise zero violence.
We need to make great adjustments to some of our plans, behaviour, and actions. Violence should be out. A culture of peace building should be practised.
We must commit ourselves to zero violence. Yes, it is possible to have zero violence. It is possible if we commit ourselves to work to have that zero violence.
Much of this lies within our control. It lies within our individual and collective control. God has given us the gift of free will and the opportunity to make good choices.
Elections are about selection of people, about getting the persons that will represent us in various positions. Elections are not war.
Elections should not be about conquerors and defeated. Elections are about selecting men and women into office and various roles. Elections are about the people participating together in making choices for the whole society.
In all places of Zambia, people must feel free to campaign for the candidates of their choice.
My brothers and sisters, let us abandon attitudes and instruments of hostility, aggression and violence.
Let us allow love to flow and work as the instrument of peace. Following the force of love provides us our own safety and peace.
When we love others as ourselves, in turn, others will love and respect us and there will be respect, peace, and harmony for all of us. Over the decades, that principle of love has helped us to live well with others within and outside Zambia. We have been well respected, world over, for the peace and stability we have together worked for.
My brothers and sisters, as we approach elections, let us practise love for our neighbour. Our neighbour includes that person from another political party. We are all God’s children. This fact is above politics and parties.
We should be very serious about zero violence. Let us aim for zero violence within parties and across parties. Let us reach zero violence in communities.
However, while violence has happened and there has been some tension amongst candidates and those supporting different positions, there have been some actions that give hope, actions that we must support.
We have some members of political parties, religious organisations, civil society organisations and non-governmental organisations, associations, and other members of the public condemning whatever violence they hear about. They are acting to build peace.
Elections come and go, but Zambia and all of us, the people, must always strive to live together in peace and harmony. Even after the results of the elections, we must not consider ourselves as losers or victors but still work together to build our motherland as brothers and sisters.
Even after elections, all of us must, of necessity, continue to work together as God’s children. We will always need each other.
Yes, it is not only desirable that we have zero violence, it is possible to have zero violence. The answer lies within us as individuals and as groups. Working together, we will reduce violence and achieve zero violence.
I thank you and God bless our great republic, Zambia.
The author is first President of the republic of Zambia