Editor's Comment

Politics doesn’t have to be dirty

THE electorate in Lukashya and Mwansabombwe constituencies in Northern and Luapula provinces are today faced with a solemn duty to elect their Members of Parliament.
The two seats fell vacant following the death of Mwenya Munkonge, who was the independent Member of Parliament for Lukashya, and his Mwansabombwe counterpart, Rodgers Mwewa, who was a Patriotic Front legislator.
The onus is therefore on the registered voters in the two constituencies to exercise their democratic right like they did in 2016 when they ushered Munkonge and Mwewa to represent them in the House.
Elections are an important platform for citizens’ participation in democratic processes.
In any election, regardless of whether it is local, parliamentary or presidential, the stakes are always high because the citizens have to make a decision on who they can entrust to represent them.
Such contests are, however, not a matter of life and death. They are a civil way in which a community or a society gives its mandate to an individual or groups of individuals to govern them for a specific period of time.
It is, therefore, inevitable that there will be winners and losers in these elections. There will be some who will be overjoyed by the outcome by the close of the day today, and there will be some who will be disappointed by varying degrees.
Whatever the outcome, the winners and the losers will continue to live as neighbours in the same communities. Whoever wins will be expected to deliver election promises for everyone in the respective constituencies.
So the decision for the electorate is on who they think is best-placed to deliver on their promises.
This is why it is of utmost importance that every registered voter steps forward to help determine who the best candidate to represent them is.
It is unfortunate that in Lukashya the campaigns were somewhat marred by sporadic incidents of violence. We hope this has not intimidated any of the voters.
It is assuring, however, that the police have generally lived up to their assurance of enforcing the law without bias. Cadres from either side of the main contesting parties, the PF and the UPND, have been arrested.
We also hope that the law will run its full course beyond the arrests. The perpetrators of violence must face the law not only in police cells but also in the courts.
Lessons must be learnt from the pre-election events in Mwansabombwe where political rivals went about their campaigns without any friction. This is as it should be in all parts of the country.
The stakes seem to be higher in Lukashya, but whatever the prize is, there is absolutely no reason why anyone should take the law into their own hands in an attempt to prove that they are stronger.
It does not make any sense at all to prove that you are physically stronger and you end up in police detention while your rival votes.
Understandably, victory in today’s polls could put one in great stead for the general elections coming up in 11 months’ time.  But, again, how you win also matters.
The general elections are largely local candidates’ affairs devoid of the support of the machinery of the national leadership, especially in constituencies that may be considered inconsequential and not highly weighted in their national swing status.
In exercising their democratic rights as provided for in the constitution and other statutes, it is important for citizens to respect the rights of others.
The PF and the UPND, the main players on the political scene, should always stick to promoting unity in diversity.
Violence has no room in a democratic dispensation such as Zambia. Politics doesn’t have to be dirty. It must be a battle of ideas.
It is expected that losers will accept the outcome of the results as the wish of the voters.
There is always a next time.

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