from ARNOLD MULENGA in Lusaka, Zambia
LUSAKA, (CAJ News) – THE main rivals in Zambia’s upcoming general elections owe it to the legacy of the late Kenneth Kaunda to overcome their animosity and ensure the polls in August are credible.
They must avoid any further bloodshed and destruction of property ahead of the exercise.
Ndola, one of the largest cities in the country, has taken a lead in this after the governing Patriotic Front (PF) and the main opposition United Party for National Development (UPND) pledged to hold campaigns free of violence.
This is in stark contrast to the political temperatures prevailing in the Southern African country leading to what will be its most fiercely contested elections ever.
In Ndola, aspiring candidates from the main political parties have presented a united front as campaigning reaches a crescendo.
The aspiring candidates recently held a press conference where they disclosed the move was inspired by the recently-deceased first president of independent Zambia, Kaunda.
He died last week after battling pneumonia. He was 97.
“We (are) one Zambia One Nation,” said Frank Tayali, the UPND aspiring candidate for Ndola Central.
He was referring to the motto that is inscribed in Zambia’s coat of arms.
Kaunda championed the slogan to emphasise the need for unity in a country of over 70 ethnic groups.
“We are not enemies,” Tayali said.
“How we treat each other now will determine how we will treat each other after the election,” he said.
The opposition candidate called on the population to put the interest of the country first ahead of their parties.
“Governments will come and go but the country will not go. It is important that we show restraint,” Tayali said.
Bowman Lusambo, the PF Provincial mobilisation coordinator for the Copperbelt, echoed these sentiments.
Ndola is the provincial capital and industrial as well as commercial centre.
“We want to flip a new page,” Lusambo said.
“We are just competing here. We are not here to fight.”
He is the aspirant for the constituency of Kabushi.
“I have been enjoying campaigns in that constituency alongside the UPND. We exercise our democratic rights by showing off our symbols,” Lusambo said.
Marvin Chanda Mberi, a law scholar, appealed to Zambians to honour Kaunda by holding peaceful elections.
“Dr Kaunda had inculcated the spirit of putting Zambia first above one’s narrow personal ambitions,” Mberi said.
Ndola is the second largest city in Zambia in terms of infrastructural development and third in terms of size and population.
It has not been spared the electoral violence in recent years.
In 2011, skirmishes broke out after opposition supporters took to the streets protesting against the alleged sloth in the release of the elections results.
Then, opposition candidate, Michael Sata (now late), of PF beat the incumbent, Movement for Multi-Party Democracy’s Rupiah Banda.
– CAJ News