It is criminal for leaders to continue paying lip-service in the condemnation of political violence while behind the scenes they are busy encouraging cadres to fix their opponents, says Zambian Voice executive director Chilufya Tayali.
Mr Tayali said if political parties began to show genuine dislike for political violence, cadres would fear to disappoint their paymasters and avoid engaging in hooliganism.
“Political leaders condemn violence as window dressing but behind the curtains they encourage cadres to fix their opponents.
“Such leaders may speak nicely and walk majestically before cameras, but they are no better than criminals who scheme how to robe innocent citizens of their money, because their desire in politics is money and not serving people,” Mr Tayali said.
He explained that most low level political cadres lacked economic power to sustain themselves and depended on their top leadership for financial support and ended up being abused by the elite who felt threatened in their political ambitions.
He said it was no wonder that political violence was mostly attributed to low level cadres who did not understand critical views of their parties and ended up getting arrested leaving the crafters of the crimes scotfree. He said most political leaders have chosen to remain quiet against violence while others have engaged in the blame game, actually fueling the violence as their supporters did not understand the consequences of their actions.
“The worst leaders are those who do not speak against violence perpetrated by their cadres but are ever blaming other parties on violence.
“Instead of apologizing, some of these political leaders blame and warn victims of political violence, actioned by their cadres, for opposing or criticizing them,” he said.
Mr Tayali said no matter who started it, there was no justification for violence as it trampled on the freedom of expression which was one of the tenets of democracy.