Even the longest journey comes to an end. So the adage says. This end can either bring relief and tears of joy for safely arriving in the Promised Land or sadness and frustration, in equal measure, after a blistering but an unfruitful journey. For the May 21 2019 Tripartite Elections campaign, the end is 6am tomorrow, 48 hours before the polling day.
There is a palpable feeling of expectancy among both the owner of the farm and the workers for the ultimate prize—the fruit of their sweat. The fruit is that ward, that parliamentary seat and topping it all, the top job in the land, the presidency. All that is remaining now is to go and vote.
At the close of the official campaign period tomorrow at 6am, May 19 2019, one can only wish that all aspirants will be able to gleefully recite the Biblical celebratory pronouncement that they “have fought the fight, finished the race and kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7). And now they must reap the fruit of their labour. Unfortunately, the hard truth as the scriptures prophetically and unambiguously also declare: “in a race, all the runners run, but only one receives the prize” (1 Corinthians 9:24).
And so from a crowded field of seven presidential candidates, only one will claim the prey and remain standing after May 21. Only 192 candidates out of a battalion of 1 331 candidates (two candidates passed on), and only 462 aspirants will emerge winners for ward councilor positions out of a legion of 2 615 who will contest for the positions.
It is encouraging to note that there are 303 female candidates for parliamentary seats, representing a 12 percent increase from the previous elections. On the other hand, there is a regiment of 581 female candidates for ward councilor positions. My hope is that the 50:50 Campaign has delivered and will see more women as MPs and councilors. But that is fodder for another discussion.
All I want to say to all of you for now is good luck.
Now the sweet-and-sour part of all elections. Sadly, this is cast in stone. For each contest for a political office, there is only one winner. Congratulations are therefore in order for all of you who will make it to Canaan. You are fully entitled to make merry for your feat. It is the prize for your sweat and the harvest of your labour. But celebrate responsibly, honourably and without insulting others. For that is the mark of statesmanship. This is important to avoid inciting violence which could potentially result in loss of life and property. It is times like these that I remember Epiphania Bonjesi (MHSRIP), that nine-year old Chimwankhunda girl whose life was mercilessly snuffed out of her by a stray bullet from an overzealous, trigger happy policeman in the 2004 post-election violence. I jointly dedicate this piece to her and a friend the late Godfrey Kamanya whom I will talk about later.
The losers—who will be in majority for all contests—should accept defeat and quickly come to terms with the outcome. Shock, anger, denial are all inevitable consequences of coming out with nothing from a sapping campaign you heavily invested in emotionally and materially. It is a difficult time that demands a lot of mental resilience. What all candidates, political parties and their supporters and the nation as a whole need is to prepare well for any eventuality. Especially defeat which can be traumatising and debilitating. These are the circumstances in which the former deputy Cabinet minister, the late Kamanya took his life. He did not have the mental stature to handle a loss both as a parliamentary candidate and for his party’s loss in the 2014 election. This should not happen again to anyone. May Epiphania and Kamanya be the first and last people to die in the aftermath of an election.
Candidates should use the next three days to prepare and accept that in an election, there can only be one winner. And, more importantly that there is life after losing an election.
But if you feel hard done by, there are laid down processes to follow and avenues to take for redress. Unless you have hard evidential proof for suspecting that the election has been stolen from your hands, resist the temptation of acting out of anger and frustration. You would only be inflicting more pain on yourself, your family members and supporters by taking a route that leads to nowhere. May the most liked candidates win.