FORMER President Rupiah Banda has advised winners of Thursday’s general elections to remain humble and the “losers” to graciously accept defeat.

Speaking when he went live on his official Facebook page, Monday, Banda urged the contesting parties to respect the will of the people.

“During my tenure as President, I emphasised the importance of contesting parties to respect the will of the people. I wish to remind the contestants in this year’s election that every election has winners and losers. Any attempt by any entity acting alone or in consent with others to impose a leadership outside the concept of one man, one vote, will be an assault on the sacrifices of our founding fathers. It will imperil the sovereignty and independence of the country and also jeopardize the peace and unity of this generation and those to come,” Banda said.

“In every election, there will be winners and losers. Winners must remain humble, magnanimous and show respect to the losers. The losers on the other hand must be able to graciously accept defeat, congratulate the winners, reorganise themselves and try again in the next election. As a country, we must all work together and ensure that peace and unity prevail before, during and after elections. I call upon all our leaders in the various faith-based organisations and Zambians, in general, to pray earnestly to God Almighty for peace and preservation of this great nation.”

Banda called on aggrieved parties to use the Judiciary to challenge the electoral outcome.

“In the next few days, our country goes to the polls to once again demonstrate and assert to the world as we have done on numerous occasions, Zambia’s democratic credentials. Historically, since we gained independence in 1964, we have lived as one people, we fought the colonial masters together, we never looked at one’s tribe, race, gender or religion. We united so that we could live in harmony as brothers and sisters and enjoy the fruits of our land as one people. Since the reintroduction of multiparty politics in Zambia in 1990, we have held several peaceful and democratic elections. As a country, we can be proud of the manner in which we resolve electoral disputes. Aggrieved parties use the Judiciary to challenge electoral outcomes that they are displeased with. We should continue with this good tradition,” he said.

The former Head of State further welcomed election observers.

“We have chosen for ourselves a system that gives legitimacy to those in government through the ballot box. To our friends who have come from afar and near to observe this election, this is a noble and widely accepted role and practice in modern democracies. Monitors and observers ensure the transparency and integrity of the elections. Indeed our foreign friends are welcome and we have no doubt about their competence and professionalism in this kind of undertaking. As Zambians, we have great confidence in the governance institutions we have created for ourselves,” he said.

Banda said the Electoral Commission of Zambia must be given support so that it could fulfil its mandate.

“The Electoral Commission of Zambia therefore in this instance must be given space and necessary cooperation and support so that it can fulfill its mandate in a satisfactory manner. There is a need to maintain peace and unity in this country as we head to the polls. I am therefore appealing to all our politicians to ensure that they do not destroy Zambia by desisting from resorting to retrogressive and divisive activities such as violence, hate speech including ethnic and racial profiling in their campaigns or during their campaigns,” he said.

Meanwhile, Banda appealed to the contestants to abide by the COVID-19 regulations as they campaigned in the remaining days.

“Zambia urgently needs development and as such, it is anxiously waiting for the conclusion of these elections so that the implementation of this development agenda and the rebuilding of our economy can resume apace to the satisfaction of all citizens. However, because of the COVID-19 pandemic which is ravaging the world and Zambia has not been spared, our economy and the health status of our people have been adversely affected,” said Banda.

“It is in this light that I am making this earnest appeal and calling upon all our people as they go about their last rounds of campaigns to strictly abide by the COVID-19 regulations. If we do not abide by the COVID-19 regulations, we may end up losing a lot of lives and the whole election exercise will become meaningless.”