The events that characterised Kamwala Shopping Centre in Lusaka on Friday afternoon could have been avoided only if the United Party for National Development (UPND) party cadres had acted with sobriety and restraint following the Police’s cancellation of their scheduled political rally in Chawama.
Had the UPND cadres not gone ahead with the illegal procession, could there have been loss of life?
We do not think this could have been the result. Instead, it is the sheer disrespect by the UPND cadres for the Zambia Police’s decision to give the party permission to hold a rally due to fears of imminent acts of political violence which led to the loss of life.
The behaviour portrayed by the UPND cadres clearly justifies the Police’s decision to cancel the planned political gathering.
It is surprising to note that the UPND spokesperson, Mr Charles Kakoma, is downplaying the incidence of violence by the UPND cadres. “There is no violence in Lusaka, just a small fracas that happened yesterday (Friday),” he said.
Surely, can you reasonably call an incident of such magnitude in which a life was lost as “small fracas”?
Probably this explains the accusatory tone of the UPND leader, Mr Hakainde Hichilema, in the aftermath of the incident, “…when I went to the Inspector General of Police to find out who had authorised the shooting of people, he was behaving like a child….”
It is a virtuous mark of great leadership under the circumstances to show civility in language so that the ‘cadres’ are not incited to go on an onslaught of their opponents.
The disposition by our political leaders on how to handle such a matter counts a lot. The UPND leader ought to know that pointing an accusing finger at the Police and their political opponents does not help solve the problem.
In fact, it could only exacerbate the problem as the cadres might unreasonably take what he says as directives to retaliate.
We are of the view that there is need for political leaders to call for calm among their cadres so that the Police are afforded an opportunity to conduct thorough investigations to ascertain the circumstances under which life was lost.
That will avert the already volatile situation from degenerating into full blown violence particularly between the rival parties, Patriotic Front (PF) and UPND.
Failure by the UPND to calm their cadres will only work against them.
Such deliberate attempts to break the law in a bid to seek public sympathy cannot guarantee victory.
What has to be borne in the minds of all those involved in violence is that the life of every human being is sacred and not worth sacrificing on the political altar for the sake of those desperately wishing to win the upcoming August 11 elections. Human life must be valued.
We call upon all the political party leaders to desist from the blame game as that can never solve the problem at hand.