THE spate of violence that has characterized the campaign for the August 11 elections is totally unacceptable, more so that the various parties undertook a solemn commitment to peaceful co-existence.
It is disheartening that the physical violence in the lower ranks of the parties has been accompanied by verbal antagonism which has raised concern among senior national leaders.
Verbal abuse is just as potent in raising tempers resulting in conflict.
It is certainly unacceptable to call President Lungu a crook. No self-respecting leader will countenance demeaning and intemperate statements against a head of state. Leadership is ordained by God and those who claim to be Christians must accept this fact.
We are not surprised First republican President Dr. Kenneth Kaunda has expressed his concern at the vulgar language that is increasingly unsettling and at worst infuriating those who do not agree with the opposition and the policy statements it is making.
Not every Zambian agrees that the economy is broken if anything many Zambians are giving credit to president Lungu for getting the country through a very tumultuous period when copper prices bottomed out, our power generation was crippled and the prognosis for our food security was dire at best.
In spite of all this Zambia has emerged as a food secure country with a comfortable surplus to support. Load shedding has been mitigated and global copper prices have stabilized to the extent that the country is once again earning from this God given resources.
That is why extreme language is not only irritating but grates on the minds and senses of Zambians who expect quality political debate devoid of vile language.
It is understandable that some media houses which have joined the political campaign would want to use the politicians to express themselves and their discomfiture with the political leadership.
Politicians must therefore be very circumspect because their word will be twisted to suit a media agenda to which they may not subscribe but which will certainly affect their image in public perception.
Zambians expect political debate to be robust, nuanced and at best substantial in discussing real issues that affect the ordinary man and woman and sadly the vacuous character of debate is not only uninspiring but is a sad reflection of the caliber of those debating.
For instance it would be useful for those advocating free education to explain how they intend to achieve this task given the fact that there are more than 3 million learners at various stages of education.
Even the most advanced and prosperous nations operate on a contributory scheme to manage most of their social services including education
It is a disservice to the public, especially the electorate, to be fed with violence while issues in the party manifestos that outline issues of bread and butter remain unattended to by political parties.
It is equally unpatriotic for leaders to be defensive of violent cadres when they are assaulting the very innocent people who are supposed to vote in the August 11 polls.
Our political leaders should realize that there is more to lose if the acts of violence become part of our life.
It is wrong thinking for anybody to adopt the attitude of ‘‘if I won’t win the August 11 polls, nobody should’’.
We join President Edgar Lungu in urging the police to do that which they are expected to do – maintain law and order.
Violence cannot and should not form part of a campaign strategy.