Advertisement

Safeguard Peace Regardless of Election Outcome, Jesuit Scholars in Zambia Urge Candidates

Poster announcing the August 12 general elections in Zambia. Credit: Courtesy Photo

The leadership of the Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection (JCTR) has called upon leading presidential candidates in Zambia to espouse values that foster human life and “safeguard peace” in the Southern African country regardless of the outcome of the general elections scheduled to take place Thursday, August 12. 

“JCTR is appealing to the two leading presidential contestants to uphold human dignity, protect the sanctity of life, and safeguard peace, socio-political and economic stability of this country regardless of the outcome of the elections,” officials of the research institute based in Zambia’s capital, Lusaka, say in a statement published Monday, August 9.

In the statement signed by JCTR Executive Director, Fr. Alex Muyebe, they add, “Whoever will come out a loser must respect the will of the Zambian people with dignity and decency.”

Additionally, the Jesuit scholars urge whoever will emerge as the winner of the presidential poll to accept “the outcome with humility, sense of duty and service.”

President Edgar Chagwa Lungu, a member of The Patriotic Front (PF), and Hakainde Hichilema, the current opposition leader and leader of the United Party for National Development (UPND), are reportedly the main contenders in the presidential polls.  

Advertisement

In their statement, the Jesuit scholars acknowledge the country’s “tremendous strides in nurturing democratic governance and stability” and urge the citizens to “jealously safeguard the gains we have achieved so far in consolidating democratic governance and political stability.”

“Every time we hold general elections, we have an opportunity as a country to demonstrate to the world that democracy in Zambia has come of age through a well-entrenched democratic practice and culture where the people freely, fairly and peacefully express their wish as to who should govern the country at any given time, and that the will of the people is respected by the contesting candidates,” JCTR officials say. 

They also call on all eligible voters in the Southern African nation to turn out in large numbers to exercise their right to vote. 

“Every candidate participating in these elections must do so with a high degree of dignity, decency and responsibility,” the Jesuit scholars say.

In their August 9 statement, they also urge members of the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) to exercise “a high degree of professionalism and competency” in conducting and implementing the August 12 poll that will also see Mayors, Council chairpersons, ward Councilors and Members of Parliament (MPs) elected. 

More in Africa

ECZ officials should adhere to the constitutional requirements for a free and fair elections conducted without violence, corruption and intimidation, JCTR officials add.

They further call upon members of the electoral commission to ensure “independence, accountability, efficiency and transparency of the electoral process; a simple and practical system of voting and tabulating votes; and timely resolution of electoral disputes.”

On his part, Archbishop Ignatius Chama of Zambia’s Catholic Archdiocese of Kasama has urged all registered voters to ensure they exercise their right to vote. 

In an interview with Lutanda Catholic Radio of Kasama Archdiocese Wednesday, August 11, Archbishop Chama also called on Zambians to “exercise patience as election results will be announced after voting closes tomorrow.”

The Catholic Church leader who doubles as the President of the Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops (ZCCB) went on to urge the candidates to accept the outcome of the elections.

Advertisement

“There can only be one winner in an election or a competition,” the Archbishop has been quoted as saying in the August 11 report

Meanwhile, in a separate statement, officials of JCTR have called on all political candidates in the country to continue highlighting “manifestos that will promote the well-being of children” before the campaigns are officially concluded. 

“It is disheartening that in most instances politics takes centre stage at the expense of issue-based campaigns that should demonstrate plans and policies that will improve the lives of children,” they say in an August 10 statement. 

“JCTR wishes to emphasize that while children do not vote nor participate in election campaigns, there is need to prioritize their voices and interests, just as much as any well-meaning eligible voter,” JCTR officials say.

In their statement, the Jesuit scholars underscore the fact that “investment and development of childhood capacities has the potential to contribute to improving the quality and productivity of the future labor force in a society.” 

(Story continues below)

Beyond the polls, they further say, “There is great need to harmonize the national plans and budgets if children in Zambia are to witness prioritization in light of the fact that they are owed a fair share of the resources.”