OPPOSITION political parties have welcomed calls by President Edgar Lungu for dialogue to end the political violence that has rocked Zambia’s political scene.
The MMD and the UPND said it was important for political parties to meet and talk to each other rather than blame each other over the violence that has been escalating particularly between the two major rival parties, the Patriotic Front (PF) and the UPND.
UPND vice-president for political affairs Canisius Banda said it was time President Lungu put his foot down and declare zero-tolerance to violence which was causing a lot of tension in the country.
“We ask God to help this country to end the violence. We petition God to prevail on Zambia so that we can remain non-violent. We have President Lungu who is a God-fearing leader and we ask him to stop the violence even as he is calling for dialogue with other political leaders. We know the violence is coming from the PF and we must refuse that our country should go the Yugoslavia way; we refuse that Zambia should go the Rwanda or the Kenyan way,”
Dr Banda said. He said President Lungu was preaching peace and unity in the country but members of his party were not heeding his message and he should therefore take action against any individual seen to be perpetrating violence irrespective of their political affiliation.
And MMD president Nevers Mumba said while the call by the President for dialogue was welcome, it was the responsibility of individual political party leaders to address their cadres on the evils of violence.
Dr Mumba said the hatred that had engulfed Zambia’s political landscape was unacceptable, shameful and unnecessary and was doing nothing but negatively affecting the country’s prospects of development.
Dr Mumba said political violence must be condemned by all well-meaning politicians irrespective of who was involved and perpetrating the vice.
He said even as President Lungu was calling for dialogue to end violence, it was important for political party leaders to guide their cadres on the need to restrain themselves from engaging in the vice.
He explained that the youths being maimed were in fact children who were suffering because of unemployment and it was unfair for political leaders to take advantage of the vulnerability of youths and use them as tools of violence.
“As leaders of our political parties, we are the only ones who can stop this violence. Before we meet with President Lungu, we must address our cadres in our individual political parties. It is a good thing to meet and discuss the violence that has rocked the country but unless we address our cadres as individual political parties, we will not be solving any problem,” Dr Mumba said.