By Sycorax T. Ndhlovu
BEING in August 11, 2016 presidential and general elections’ political campaigns, it’s critical for each citizen, political party and Zambia Police (ZP) to maintain law and order for our much cherished and long standing peace and stability to be sustained in Zambia.
Peace and stability aren’t manna from heaven. They are a product of efforts each citizen, security wings and government leaders put in to have such. Without such deliberate efforts from such groups of people, anarchy and chaos that can lead to bloodshed can be common in our country.
It’s from such a background that each citizen, political party cadre, political party leader, ZP officers and other stakeholders should be vigilant against lawlessness in our country; especially as we approach August 11, 2016 polls.
Consequently, to learn that former vice president, Guy Scot says that they will cause havoc for Patriotic Front (PF) and its Movement for Multi-party Democracy (MMD) friends until PF is out of office is not only surprising but is also threatening the peace and stability Zambia has enjoyed for many years now.
To prove that peace related issues are topical; and leading to a potential political turmoil in our country, United Party for National Development (UPND)’s leader, Hakainde Hichilema (HH) was quoted in one of the media circles saying Zambians should pray hard for the Armageddon after the August 11, 2016 if his party loses the stated polls. Armageddon in a Christian nation!
Providing more evidence that this year’s elections have a potential for unprecedented political chaos, one learns of many other peace threatening statements from many political leaders; especially those from the opposition.
As a result, Evangelical Church in Zambia executive director, Pukuta Mwanza said opposition political leaders shouldn’t be desperate for power; and become prophets of doom to start wishing war in Zambia ahead of the forthcoming presidential and general elections.(Daily Nation: 20/5/2016; p.1).
Moreover, some political leaders such as UPND’s vice president for administration, Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba(GBM) has on several occasions threatened ZP to give them a showdown should the latter try to prevent his party from conducting the way they want as they jostle to be a ruling party after the August 11, 2016 polls.
To further prove that GBM and other politicians mean business in what they say as far as threatening peace until they get into government, recently, it was reported in some circles of the media that GBM defied ZP call out on Copperbelt’s Kitwe town for some days for the alleged assault of two people and conduct likely to cause breach of peace(Daily Nation: 21/5/2016; p.1). Copperbelt police chief, Charity Katanga confirmed that GBM would be arrested for assaulting two people and for conduct likely to cause breach of peace.
And learning that after attending a UPND’s political campaign rally in Kafue, some suspected UPND’s cadres started removing political campaign materials for other political parties participating in the forthcoming elections is not only breaking the law and order but it’s also a highly provocative vice against other political parties.
Such vices can force other parties to react violently to perpetrators of removing other political party’s political campaign materials; and in the process, lead our country into civil strife. Vulgar language, hate speech, promotion of such speech in some circles of the news media and political violence related issues and events have been common in Zambia in the recent past. Such have created unnecessary political tension in the country for some time now.
As part of reducing such unnecessary political tension that threatens peace in the country, recently, President Edgar Lungu urged information and broadcasting minister, Chishimba Kambwili and PF deputy secretary general, Mumbi Phiri to tone down on reacting to some of their political critics. President Lungu has also urged PF cadres to restrain themselves from being involved in political violence; even when provoked.
While PF cadres have their own share of blame on political violence related vices, one expects all citizens, political cadres, political parties and their respective leaders to put maintenance of peace and stability above personal and political interests.
To achieve this, in the last few months, the Catholic Bishops presided at a peace mediation meeting where all major political party presidents such as Forum for Democracy and Development (FDD)’s leader, Edith Nawakwi, UPND’s leader, HH and PF’s leader and republican president, Edgar Lungu were present; and all promised to restrain their political cadres from political violence and vulgar language related vices.
But few days after such a peace mediation meeting, one learns that HH, GBM and some other political leaders were threatening ZP not to prevent them from doing what they wanted even when their activities were against the Public Order Act.
And information that some UPND’s political cadres reportedly over-powering and injured some ZP officers in some parts of Southern province are also a serious threat to maintaining law and order in our country. And recently, it was reported that some UPND’s cadres over-powered some ZP officers in Lusaka’s Matero compound where some ZP officers were reportedly defeated and injured.
Again, it was also reported that UPND’s cadres over-powered and hurt some ZP officers in Kafue district after UPND’s political campaign rally in that district where UPND’s cadres were reportedly removing political campaign materials for other political parties in that town(Daily Nation: 21/5/2016; p.4). It was reported that the only mistake the stated injured ZP officers made was to stop such cadres from removing other political parties’ campaign materials from where they were stuck.
Were the defeated ZP officers armed or they went to such an event with their bare hands as long as they were in ZP uniform? Are stones which political cadres use against ZP officers more effective in fighting than guns which ZP officers carry and use where and when necessary? If they were armed; and fired at such cadres, could human rights activists have condemned such ZP officers for violating such cadres’ rights? What about ZP officers’ duty rights to maintain law and order?
What sounds sensitive is that the reports about some UPND’s cadres over-powering some ZP officers and removing political campaign materials are done in areas that are perceived as UPND’s stronghold. If this is what UPND’s cadres are doing in their perceived stronghold areas, how will they put their own political campaign materials in other regions which might be perceived to be other political parties’ stronghold areas? Should other political party’s cadres also attack UPND’s cadres and remove UPND’s campaign materials from such areas? If this is so, how would such activities affect peace in our country?
What is also interesting in all such reports is high collaborative evidence of some political party cadres and their respective leaders in being highly involved in uncivil language, hate speech and political violence related issues.
Whatever reasons some citizens, some political cadres and some political leaders might have for being involved in such vices, maintaining peace and stability is not only for ZP but it is also a duty and responsibility of all Zambians, political party’s cadres, their respective political leaders and other stakeholders in Zambia. This duty and responsibility should be seen in whatever we say and do at all times both personally and officially.
It’s from such numerous statements, events and reports which threaten peace and stability in Mother Zambia that service chiefs recently said that they are seriously concerned with careless statements, lack of patriotism, hooliganism and total indiscipline that has been observed over the past few months from some citizens(Daily Nation: 21/5/2016; p.1).
Speaking when President Edgar Lungu commissioned the US$1.4million Zambia Air Force (ZAF) Twin Palm Public-Private Partnership project in Lusaka, ZAF Commander, Lieutenant General Eric Chimese said: ‘As defence chiefs, we are seriously concerned with careless statements, lack of patriotism, hooliganism and total indiscipline that has been observed over the past few months from some of our citizens.’
Gen. Chimese revealed that some of the reported genocides in some neighbouring African countries were a result of careless statements from some citizens in those countries like the ones reported in some circles of the print and electronic media in Zambia.
Such a catalogue of statements and events that symbolize threat to peace in our country is proof that some Zambians and some political leaders have taken peace for granted.
It’s evident that without some political leaders using vulgar language and hate speech; and some news media not promoting such language and speech, no political cadres can be involved in political violence related activities.
To lead the way in promoting peace in Zambia, President Lungu has promised to lead a peaceful nation under our motto: ‘One Zambia; One Nation’. And the Head of State has repeatedly directed ZP to deal with perpetrators of political violence regardless of their political affiliation.
This is because vulgar language, hate speech, political violence and lawlessness as we approach August 11, 2016 polls, might lead us to wallowing in civil strife and bloodshed in our country. If peace is lost in Zambia, do we have specific groups of people and political leaders to blame for such?
When civil strife starts, no Zambian will enjoy seeing and experiencing bloodshed in our own country. Zambia is our only country. We have nowhere to run to as Zambian refugees.
Together as ‘One Zambia; One Nation’, let’s maintain law and order for peace and stability to prevail in Mother Zambia.
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