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A Letter to All Christians Before the 31 October Elections

 

A Letter to All Christians Before the 31 October Elections
 
From the Christian Churches’ Monitoring Group

 

 
23 September 1991

 

 

 

 

The 1991 elections were momentous. The Country was at a major political crossroads. The vote was about change. After 18 years of one party autocratic rule by the UNIP Government, multi-party politics had just been re-introduced by the repeal of Article 4 in the Republican Constitution. The One party Participatory Democracy had clearly failed and Zambians were being asked to vote for change or keep the status quo by voting for UNIP, the ruling Party. Tensions in the Country were very high, hence, the important message from the leaders of the Christian Churches on the seriousness of those elections.

The central message from the Church leaders was a reminder that all authority comes from God our creator, and the will of the people is the basis of the authority of Government. Which is expressed through periodic free and fair elections. This is the foundation for “good governance”.

They identify the common good as the overriding concern of elections - not individuals. In this sense, the citizens are urged to register for voting in order to exercise their God-given right to vote.

To ensure the success of the electoral process, the Church leaders call for the observance of all electoral regulations. The success of election also depends on the absence of intimidation, bribery, threats, and violence. All these are to be condemned and discouraged during the electoral process. Finally, acceptance of the outcome of elections reflects a truly free and fair election. The leaders therefore urge all political players to abide by the result of the elections.

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and in Jesus our Lord and Saviour!

    As you know, we Zambians are at an important moment in the life of our young Republic. The re-introduction of multi-party politics makes the forthcoming presidential and general elections a watershed in our political history. These will determine the future direction of our Country.
  1. Because of the serious consequences of what occurs in the next few weeks, all Christians must play an active and responsible role in the electoral process. As Christian Church leaders, we therefore write to you our sisters and brothers to encourage you, whatever your political affiliation, to cooperate together to achieve fair and peaceful elections.

  2. It is our role as Church leaders to foster peace, reconciliation and justice in our Country, and to show particular concern for the poor. We therefore call upon all Christians, and indeed all women and men who love God, to act in a mature, tolerant, and responsible way in order to ensure a peaceful election process and a just outcome.

    Electoral Principles

  3. We call upon all people to observe the following principles relating to the elections:
    1. The right to govern comes from God the Creator and it is given to the people. The will of the people is thus the basis of the authority of the Government. This is expressed in periodic and free elections. It is therefore a serious responsibility for all citizens to exercise this right to vote in the forthcoming elections
    2. The credentials of a good candidate for any office should be the following: a person who hears God, a person who shows real ability in private and public life, a person of honesty and integrity, a person who has special care for the poor and the needy, a person who seeks not to be served but to serve. (See Psalm 15:2-5; Mark 10:45)
    3. In a truly free and fair election, all parties should accept the outcome of the election even if it is contrary to their expectations. This is a basic principle in a genuine democratic election. The candidates selected are the people’s choice. As a consequence they are given the mandate to govern and to be accountable to the people during their term of office.
    4. The over-riding concern in the elections should be the common good, the general interests, of the entire Nation. Despite different political affiliation, we are all Zambians, sisters and brothers cast together in one destiny of Nationhood.

    Electoral Guidelines

  4. We call upon all people to observe the following guidelines in their actions during the elections.
    1. All who are registered voters should cast their votes responsibly in the Presidential and General Elections. This is their constitutional right and duty.
    2. All should keep safely their National Registration Card and Voter’s Card. These two documents will be required to enable a voter to vote on Election Day and should not be parted with for any reason at all.
    3. All who registered voters should satisfy themselves that their names together with other particulars appear properly on the Voters’ Register produced by the Electoral Commission.
    4. All should know and tell others that their vote is completely secret. Other than the courts of law, no person has justified access to the ballot papers.
    5. No one should offer or accept money, gifts, tokens, or services intended to influence how someone should vote. Any such action should be immediately reported to the Police.
    6. No one should involve themselves in acts of intimidation, threats, violence or any other form of conduct likely to exert improper influence on any voters. Any such action should be immediately reported to the Police.
    7. All should respect the campaign efforts of all political parties. They should not aim to disrupt meetings and should not involve themselves in acts of vandalism such as tearing, defacing or burning political campaign materials.
    8. All should attend rallies and meetings organised by the various political parties, to help them form an intelligent opinion in the selection of candidates. They should question candidates regarding the National issues of economic and political justice for all Zambians, especially for the poor.
    9. All should cooperate fully with the law-enforcement agencies in the conduct of the elections. They should report promptly to the Police any person whose conduct is likely to cause a breach of peace.

    Call of Prayer

  5. We ask all Christians and all citizens to pray without ceasing for peace and unity in our Nation and for God’s gift for wisdom and courage in the election, On the Sunday before the elections, 27 October, we call for a National Day of Prayer and ask all our Churches to offer special prayers to beg God’s merciful blessings for Zambia.

23 September 1991, Lusaka

  Fr. I.C. Bantungwa,   Secretary General ZEC   Rev. J. Imakando   Secretary General EFZ   Mr. W. Simposya   Acting Secretary General CCZ