The Council of Churches in Zambia (CCZ) has called on all political players participating in the Chilanga Parliamentary by-election slated for 5th June 2018 to conduct peaceful campaigns.
CCZ General Secretary Fr Emmanuel Chikoya has reminded political players that winning an election is not a desperate task, nor is it winning by any means necessary.
He says winning an election is not about slander campaigning, character assassination or inciting one group against another just to score cheap political points.
He says winning an election is not about using hate speech or offensive language but rather it is a contest of ideas, fight for winning majority votes of the hearts and minds of the electorate, the selling of practicable policies and programs for improving the lives of the electorate.
The CCZ General Secretary says a free, fair and peaceful election is not hinged on just one political party alone working to ensure peace but on all political parties participating in an election.
He says all stakeholders in the Chilanga parliamentary by-election must have one goal of working hard to ensure a peaceful process during campaigns, on the Election Day itself and after the election.
Fr Chikoya has pointed out that individuals and parties seeking political mandate in a democracy like Zambia should know that elections must not be a matter of life and death neither should they be a battle of muscles and pangas but a battle of ideologies.
He has reminded all participants in the by-election that the environment will be competitive but must remain peaceful and non-violent, and that the nation should remain united.
He says political players must have zero tolerance for violence within and outside their ranks, adding that they must not just talk about peace but live in peace with themselves, their members and other political stakeholders.
He has challenged all participating political parties to be consistent in their condemnation of violence by upholding zero tolerance against violence both in public and private.
He has further reminded all political players to always remember that without the electorate, the elected have no one to govern.
He says elections must be about credibility, integrity and trust in the candidates, their political ideology and the team with the required capabilities of managing the resources and assets competently for the benefit of majority of the electorate.
Fr Chikoya has also called on the security agencies to be firm but fair and that they should not be seen to be siding with any political party because that will be a recipe for chaos.
He says security agencies should enforce the law particularly the Public Order Act fairly and not be biased towards those in government or power.
And Fr. Chikoya has called upon the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) to superintend over the election in a very professional and transparent manner and decisively deal with violent political parties.
He has also advised the public media to offer fair coverage to all participating political parties and avoid being too pro-ruling party in their coverage.
He says the media in general must be factual and responsible in their reporting and avoid publishing unverified and alarming news that result in the breakdown of law and order.