THE police should stop playing double standards when dealing with unruly cadres regardless of their political affiliation if the country is to have peaceful elections this year as partiality will only fuel violence, the UPND has charged.
Spokesperson Charles Kakoma told the Daily Nation yesterday that while people have been calling on the police to be professional in its discharge of duty, the situation has not changed on the ground despite the Police Command assuring Zambians that it would conduct itself in a fair but firm manner.
Mr. Kakoma challenged the police to arrest cadres who were involved in any political mischief if they were to prevent any political violence as double standards would make the aggrieved party to take the law in their own hands in an event the police did not seem to strike a balance among perpetrators of violence.
He accused the police of selectively applying the law when it came to dealing with political cadres from the ruling party while clamping down on those from the opposition who committed similar offences.
He said shielding cadres from the ruling party will only worsen the situation as cadres from the opposition will also want to defend themselves against unfair treatment, leading to unnecessary clashes.
He said while all opposition political parties wanted peaceful elections, that could only be attained if the party in power showed leadership by cracking down on those who were perpetrating violence regardless of whether they were their members or not and not abusing the police by directing them on who should be arrested and who should not.
“We all want to have peaceful elections this year but if those in power don’t seem to be interested, there will always be problems because they are supposed to provide an example to the rest of us. How do you expect cadres to exercise restraint when they are being provoked by those from the ruling party and the police are not doing anything to protect them? Definitely they will want to defend themselves and that is where violence usually comes from.
“As it is, the police are still applying double standards while on the other hand assuring the nation that they are ready to maintain peace going into the election but how do you maintain peace when you allow the rights of other people to be trampled upon?” Mr. Kakoma said.
He gave the incidents in Kalomo and Ndola as a clear indication of police’s application of double standards where cadres who committed similar offences were dealt with differently.
“You have a case where UPND cadres who caused confusion when President Lungu went to Kalomo have been arrested but those who attempted to attack Miles Sampa have been left scot-free. This is not fair and that is why we are demanding that those cadres in Ndola should also be arrested,” he said.