I AM hopeful and prayerful that I will be the winner so that I hand over the instruments of power to myself, says President Edgar Lungu.

Speaking when he addressed the nation, Wednesday evening, President Lungu said he would remain President until the winner is sworn in.

“I will be President until the winner from tomorrow’s presidential elections is sworn in. I am hopeful and prayerful that I will be the winner so that I hand over the instruments of power to myself,” President Lungu said.

“As long as I am President, I will not countenance or tolerate violence. That is why I have activated the defence force to support the police in some trouble spots to ensure peace is guaranteed to all citizens, before, during and after the elections.”

He said the deployment of soldiers was meant to intimidate those hell-bent on mischief and not the rest of the citizens.

“I am aware that this decision may have received a negative response from some individuals who are claiming that they are being intimidated. But let me tell you, the only people who are intimidated are those hell-bent on mischief. The rest of the citizens have appreciated my decision. I want to make it very clear that this measure to deploy soldiers is not national as you may have noticed. It is not in all areas but in selected trouble spots. And people are going about their business and life normally, contrary to what our opponents, some diplomats and some international media are insinuating,” he said.

“Therefore, go and vote freely and anyone intimidating or threatening you with violence must be reported to law enforcement officers. It is no coincidence that the mounting violence we witnessed a few days ago has suddenly shimmered. My desire is to smother violence and nip it in the bud. I, therefore, urge all defence forces, led by the Army commander not to renege in ensuring total national security. Peace is precious and we must keep it at all costs. I urge all of you fellow Zambians to pray for peace in your homes and in your hearts. Peace will prevail if you do so. Only those who don’t love this country should think of violence. Only those who hate their families should think of violence. Let’s go to vote tomorrow and wait for the outcome of the results.”

The Head of State said political groupings should not be based on regions.

“I still believe in one Zambia, one nation even now. This is why I have revived it to be our guiding light as Zambians. This is why the motto -One Zambia, One nation – is recast before every news bulletin is read on the public broadcaster, ZNBC. Therefore, we cannot form political groupings that are based on regions we come from. In any case, that line of thinking is debased. Because over the years of living as one, we have had inter-marriages and many of the people born, especially after independence do not belong to one tribe,” he said.

“These inter-marriages have further strengthened our unity in diversity. It is in this spirit that I urge you not to be swayed into hating each other because of tribe or region. Tribalism and regionalism breeds hatred and violence. This is why recent happenings in some parts of the country where violence and deaths have happened have deeply disturbed me.”

President Lungu expressed concern that violence seemed to have taken root in the country.

He insisted that while he openly condemned violence, Hakainde Hichilema had been mute.

“While Zambia still remains a multi-party state and shall be so for years to come, we seem to have lost principles on which multi-partyism is anchored and that is unity in diversity. Violence seems to have taken root. Dr (Kenneth) Kaunda abandoned multi-party politics because of tribalism and violence; conversely, Dr (Fredrick) Chiluba did not advocate for multi-party politics to do violence. So who has brought this vice into our nation? While violence is not new in many of our elections post single party state, in recent years it has been festering and more pronounced. This violence has mainly been between so-called cadres of both the ruling party and the main opposition party. On my part, I have consistently condemned this violence and asked police to arrest any law breaker, regardless of their political affiliation,” President Lungu said.

“However, my main rival in this election has been mute when this violence has happened. While some leaders of political parties have not physically been involved in these fights, they have been seen to sponsor these battles either by their actions or non-action, or by their toxic words. There have been blame games whenever cadres have fought or maimed each other and this is not helping this country. In the meantime, precious lives have been lost.”

The Head of State said he demonstrated leadership in developmental projects.

“I have demonstrated leadership in all developmental policies, programmes and projects. Zambia has seen unprecedented infrastructure development under my leadership, including universities, schools, hospitals, bridges, dams, power stations, airports, and even the national house of prayer. I now leave it up to you. To choose a leader of your choice. The choice is yours. I, your President, have chosen peace. I ask you to choose peace so that we can have a great future as Zambians and our great country, Zambia,” said President Lungu.