THE observation by the Oasis Forum that the current spate of political violence is symptomatic of a serious breakdown of law and order in the country is the harshest warning we have heard from a respected organization, pleading to all concerned men and women of goodwill to do something about this cadre-inspired threat to the sovereignty of our country.
Oasis Forum spokesperson Father Cleopas Lungu did not mince his words when he said the scourge is not only a threat to the holding of a free, fair and credible elections but the very existence of Zambia as a unitary State.
After a lull of more than a month during which political parties conducted their nation-wide campaigns in relative peace and tranquility, the ugly face of political violence has resurfaced again.
We have had the issue of PF and UPND cadres being engaged in running battles with police in Shiwang’angu. In Lusaka, PF cadres are said to have ransacked a UPND campaign vehicle as marauding UPND cadres are said to have beaten up two PF members and smashed two vehicles belonging to PF parliamentary candidate for Isoka Malozo Sichone. There must be several other incidents which have not been reported this week.
The point is that like the Oasis Forum says something drastic must be done sooner than later to contain this latest flare-up of attacks which has heightened tension in the country. As the clock ticks towards August 11 Zambians can rightly hold their breath and hope for the best.
It is impossible to believe that a bunch of unruly thugs can hold a country to ransom when the full State apparatus is in place and watching.
We support the order by the Inspector General of Police to his command that they must ensure that political violence is not only contained but eradicated. What justification can the police give for failure to maintain law and order in their respective provinces?
We recall earlier this year the police holding a series of workshops where they trained on how to handle the election fever before, during and after August 11. We saw them train in the art of containing rioters and other trouble-makers. They were also taught how to anticipate trouble and how to nip it in the bud.
What is clear right now is that the police have failed to do their job. Many times they have been caught napping whenever trouble broke out and the few policemen on the scene had to wait for reinforcement, meaning they were not ready.
No wonder they have sometimes been accused of being partisan, reluctant or scared to deal with certain groups of cadres for fear that they may step on the toes of people they fear to antagonize. Sometimes maybe the officer-in- charge might be sympathetic to the political cause of the trouble-makers.
We fail to understand how the entire Zambia Police Service can be turned into a laughing stock by a few incorrigible young thugs who defy the law under the pretext that their political bosses call the tune. Is this not cowardice of the worst order?
We call on the rank and file of the police service to heed the call of their commander to act against perpetrators of political violence. They should remember: If Zambia burns we all burn.