THE attitude of UPND cadres in Southern Province is totally unacceptable. It is reprehensible and a display of gratuitous indiscipline that should not be tolerated.
The very act of abducting civil servants on the excuse of exercising a dubious democratic right exposes the danger of “regionalized” politics which look down and despise central Government authority.
There is no doubt that cadres in Southern Province have become a law unto themselves and believe they can conduct themselves in any manner including blocking roads, stoning vehicles and assaulting individuals.
This conduct should not be tolerated and police must be ruthless in curbing this dangerous trend creeping into Zambian politics.
On Saturday on learning that President Lungu was in Namwala, UPND cadres ambushed people and vehicles returning from the rally he addressed, obviously with the intention of intimidating them to assert the dubious right that Southern Province belonged to them as a party.
These were carefully planned operations intended to cause mayhem, injury and destruction of property.
The violence left two reserve police officers injured and a number of Government and private vehicles damaged.
It is the second time in as many months that UPND cadre-instigated violence has erupted after visits by President Lungu. They did the same last month in Choma, harassing people and police attending President Lungu’s rally. They again blocked roads which they believed the presidential motorcade would use.
When UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema went to Choma for a meeting the cadres blocked the Lusaka-Livingstone road, stoning motorists and attacking police who tried to stop them. This was in a show of power and defiance.
The violence was clearly intended to show President Lungu, the Government and the police that Southern Province belongs to the United Party for National Development and the party is the de facto government in the region. In a way the cadres are making the point that they do not recognize President Lungu’s leadership in Southern Province.
This view is strengthened by the fact that the UPND leadership both at local and national level, who are so vocal and defensive on many other issues, are loudly silent over the violence involving their members.
With the 2016 election just around the corner, Zambians are concerned that the behaviour of UPND cadres and their leaders could make this election one of the bloodiest the country has ever known.
If these cadres can behave this way now, what will happen when the election campaign is in full gear in July and August and all political parties are hard at it in all parts of the country meeting voters and selling their manifestos?
Mr Hakainde Hichilema and his colleagues must tame their unruly cadres. We have no doubt in our mind that the cadre violence in Nalolo against the Vice President’s family and the two incidents in Southern Province involving President Lungu, were planned.
UPND leaders must know that violence breeds violence and the incidents taking place in UPND strongholds plant seeds of more violence against the UPND leaders in other areas.
Once thing must be made clear. Southern Province does not belong to the UPND alone. It is an integral part of the sovereign Republic of Zambia where each and every citizen is free and entitled to sell their political ideas.
HH must show leadership by reining in his violent cadres otherwise he will soon find himself irrelevant to the current political dispensation. He must know that he cannot rule Zambia by banking on political-inspired violence. He needs the vote of many peace-loving Zambians outside his region.
We know there have been other incidents of violence involving other parties, but the current spate of violence sponsored by UPND worries all right-thinking people.
UPND can never win using the trump card of violence. NEVER.