EVENTS of the past few days point to the fact that unless leaders of political parties truly heed the call to order their cadres to stop the current wave of politically-engineered violence, the August elections could be a Waterloo for Zambia.
In Livingstone and Solwezi on Wednesday, UPND cadres reportedly went on rampage, attacking an Electoral Commission of Zambia verification centre, hacked a Patriotic Front official with a panga and intercepted a vehicle carrying PF supporters, pulled one person from the moving vehicle who was seriously injured in the process.
Earlier this week UPND cadres were again reported to have caused a rumpus in Kitwe on Monday when their vice president for administration Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba appeared in the Kitwe Magistrates Court over the Chisokone market saga. Twelve cadres were arrested.
This was after Mr Mwamba was alleged to have caused pandemonium at Chisokone market, one of the biggest and busiest markets on the Copperbelt, from which arose the charges he has denied in court which included assaulting two people and damaging property.
We do not catalogue these incidents to prove that UPND is a violent party. No. But we wonder, why always the UPND?
We can understand the inevitable political mentality that it is tough to be an opposition party. You may feel jealousy about the perceived huge resources available to the ruling party and sometimes feel intimidated by the fact that they are the Government.
But the hyper-sensitivity and aggressive behaviour exhibited by the UPND rank and file is frightening and totally uncalled for. On Tuesday UPND chairperson for elections Ackson Sejani warned that unless the ECZ attended to some of the party’s concerns before the elections, UPND will not accept the result of the August polls – and that there will be chaos.
UPND president Hakainde Hichlema has warned that if ECZ goes ahead to print the ballot papers in Dubai, the party will not be responsible for what will follow. He did not specify what will happen but Mr Hichilemba has already publicly declared that there will be Armageddon as well as mayhem about that time.
Dr Guy Scott, the former republican vice president, who is now the political strategist of the opposition party, has put it on record that the ruling PF should prepare for havoc before, during and after the elections.
We are not putting these words in the mouths of UPND leaders. It is what they said. And they have repeated it more than once.
No wonder their followers are so aggressive. They have been psyched to prepare for the worst. And no wonder UPND leaders are so loudly silent over the call for party leaders to condemn political violence.
Even after the much-vaunted Cathedral of the Holly Cross peace-keeping summit, the UPND leadership has been muted in their condemnation and resolve to end political violence.
As a result there is so much tension, fear and uncertainty in the country as August draws near. President Edgar Lungu’s clarion call for peace, unity and temperate campaign rhetoric seems to have fallen on deaf ears.
UPND leaders, especially HH, must realise that we have only one country, Zambia. An election is just what it is – an election. It is not the end of the world. Let us all preserve the peace, tolerate one another and move forward as ONE.
Otherwise August 11 will indeed be Armageddon.