UPND must prepare for election defeat and not chaos
It could have been a lot worse. That long-awaited printing of ballot papers in Dubai and their subsequent verification in Lusaka have taken place at all is cause for celebration, say some analysts – albeit of the cautious kind.
But what do next month’s polls suggest about Zambia’s electoral direction?
Following the UPND dictum of ‘victory at all costs’, the PF
chairperson for elections Jean Kapata charged that the UPND was not the only political party participating in the forthcoming general elections and it was, therefore, irresponsible and undemocratic for the opposition party to threaten chaos unless it won the next month’s elections (“Prepare for defeat, Kapata tells UPND” – Daily Nation, July 30, 2016).
Zambia – despite its economy being more stable than it had been at any point in the past half-a-decade – looks set for some very choppy political waters ahead as the country’s principle players clash over both policy and personality.
So where do recent developments in Zambia fit into this problematic idea of confrontational politics?
Significantly, President Edgar Lungu has reached out to his UPND opponent, Hakainde Hichilema by saying it was time to work in a spirit of concordance and progress beyond the August 11 elections.
In fact, he’s called himself the president of national unity and reconciliation.
Whether this was an invitation to the UPND leader to prepare for defeat in peace, remains to be seen. But, much like in other African countries, it is possible.
What adds more urgency to the issue of the prevailing political violence is the ethnic dimension.
Most of the UPND leader’s supporters are from the ‘Bantu Botatwe’ – acronym for Tonga, Ila and Lenje ethnicity –considered Zambia’s largest ethnic group.
The PF leader, on the other hand, draws his support from the largely cosmopolitan Copperbelt – the country’s second-largest group.
The respected independent observers have said that pre-election violence in the country – which ordinarily is borne out of people’s dissatisfaction with the State – has, with the next month’s election, taken on a distinctly ethnic hue.
Probably, giving both PF and UPND a hand on the trophy may go some way to diffusing any escalation of post-election violence in the future.
However, it is worth remembering that around eight years ago desperately troubled and disputed elections first in Kenya and later in Zimbabwe were resolved by the imposition of power-sharing agreements.
Could this possibility be what is motivating the UPND leadership to incessantly be threatening of post-election chaos or Armageddon should the polls outcome be in the ruling party’s favour? Most likely.
Mubanga Luchembe, LUSAKA
Hichilema condemnation of violence most welcome
Finally, it is nice to hear UPND president Hakainde Hichilema talking tough on violence in his clear voice. That is how it is supposed to be.
Violence stinks and nobody should justify it unless they were late for admission at a local mental hospital.
So all those promising Zambians violence because of the fear of flanking at the polls should be told in no uncertain terms to get themselves straightened up in their minds because they should not toy with people’s lives.
I, therefore, totally agree with HH that all Zambians should come together and put an end the drift of increasing violence. Nobody wins from this wretchedness.
In fact, this use of violence by non-State actors against blameless civilians in order to achieve a political goal is pure terrorism.
We must all agree that this propensity to political violence will not fly.
Elsewhere it has been proven that the use of political violence has not been successful at achieving long-term goals by its sponsors.
Let the nation begin the healing process because we all know that violence is an epidemic disease.
Please, let all political parties help to engage and inspire people to collaborate, share, listen, and to intentionally connect more freely with each other. Josiah Soko, Salima Road, Matero
Age cheating in sports
Sports have become a lucrative industry worldwide which employs millions of people directly and indirectly.
To sustain the sports industry, young athletes are now being trained from a tender age and compete in different specified age categories such as under-14 etc.
The different age groupings help to nurture youngsters into future stars.
However, age cheating is now a serious problem in sports worldwide.
It is not surprising that the Zambian national team was disqualified from the Under 17 COSAFA tournament hosted by Mauritius this year for age cheating.
We have a lot of talented young Zambians below the age of 17 who could have represented us with pride.
The challenge we have is that we focus on winning at all cost and not nurturing talent.
Sports have more losers than winners but sportsmanship means more than victory.
We need a change in the mindset on how we look at sports. We wasted taxpayers’ money preparing for disqualification. It is better to lose with dignity than being disqualified for being dishonest.
Furthermore, age cheating still remains a huge challenge in school competitions.
We have seen some Head teachers who sign on school identity cards to authenticate the wrong age of pupils to represent their schools in competitions.
This cancer starts from the grassroots and becomes a national problem.
Bob Marley once sung, ‘you can fool some people sometimes but you can’t fool all the people all the times’.
We have been caught with pants down. We now need to put up strict measures to curb age cheating in sports and avoid another national embarrassment of being disqualified for cheating.
Wisdom Kaunda, Kabwe