By Masuzyo Chakwe
THE Catholic Bishops in Zambia says those who have lost the elections should not be meant to feel they are aliens in their own country but should be given hope for the next time.
In a joint statement, the bishops stated that the general elections for the year 2021 were now over.
“We have the final official results announced by the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ). Mr Hakainde Hichilema is the President-elect of our country. We congratulate him for his victory, a victory in which all the Zambian people share since it is a victory for democracy,” they said in a statement signed by Archbishop of Kasama and ZCCB president Ignatius Chama, Bishop of Solwezi & ZCCB vice-president Charles Kasonde, Archbishop of Lusaka Alick Banda, Chipata Bishop George Lungu, Mongu Bishop Evans Chinyemba, Bishop Benjamin Phiri (Ndola), Bishop Clement Mulenga (Kabwe), Bishop Valentine Kaiumba (Mansa), Bishop Edwin Mulandu (Livingstone), Bishop of Mpika and Very Reverend. Fr. Francesco Airoldi Apostolic Administrator of Monze. “We thank the out-going President, Mr Edgar C Lungu, for having facilitated the conduct of the elections and bringing the processes to their conclusion even during the COVID-19 pandemic. He has done his share. It is time for another to carry on. We wish him well and God’s blessings.”
The bishops thanked Zambians for demonstrating that the nation can change governments without destroying the peace and unity that bind them.
“Yes, there were cases of isolated violence, where very sadly human lives were lost, and properties destroyed. To the families who lost their loved ones we extend our prayer of comfort from the Lord who is the resurrection and life,” they stated.
“As we transit from one government to another, we wish to call upon all Zambians and people of good will to exercise maximum restraint to all forms of provocation and to remain peaceful with self, with others and with God. This is the only way we can live in peace and harmony with one another. Our Lord, Jesus Christ, encourages us when he says: ‘If anyone strikes you on one cheek offer the other also, and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt.’ (Lk. 6:29).”
They stated that Christianity knows no other effective method than a permanent willingness to forgive and to be reconciled and not to retaliate.
“To forgive as many times as we can and without measure. It also means to take the first step and meet one’s neighbour in charity – even when it hurts. It means appreciating one another as persons created in the image and likeness of God and to consider each other as brothers and sisters rather than obstacles to be overcome,” they stated
They told the victors in the elections to celebrate their victories in a responsible and inclusive manner that would not be a source of abrogating the peaceful atmosphere in which the elections were carried out.
“Those who have lost the elections should not be meant to feel they are aliens in their own country but should be given hope for the next time. For indeed there is always the next time in our democratic dispensation,” they stated.
The bishops stated that they appreciate the professional role the ECZ and the men and women in uniform had played in the elections.
“Yes, there were some lapses here and there, but the overall picture is that of a professional job well done. Our democracy is really maturing where we allow every Zambian to have a chance to participate in the governance of the country without fear and intimidation from anyone,” they stated.
They thanked the international community and all who had supported Zambians in the just ended elections.
“We say thank you for being our neighbours who care and are ready to be in solidarity with us. We know you shared our anxieties, but we also know you are now sharing in our peace of mind that the elections have come and gone without break down in peace,” they stated. “To us all may God reign in our hearts, that we may be truly reconciled and live with one another in peace and harmony for the well-being of all of us who start our journey with a new government as a pilgrim people whose God is always there for us and with us.”