AS the country inches closer to the August 12 general elections, there is need to ensure that all forms of violence are eliminated.
Politicians have the responsibility to ensure that their supporters respect the rule of law and avoid engaging in activities that tend to lead to violence.
It is unfortunate that clashes between political parties are becoming all too often in the Zambia, especially during elections. People failing to disagree peacefully is now a common feature and source of conflict.
Yet as a Christian nation, one would expect that citizens would be ready to engage in any debate without resorting to physical confrontation.
Alas, the temptation to resort to physical confrontation seems to be gaining ground, something that should worry all leaders.
Traditional leaders are rightly speaking about this unfortunate situation, as Chief Chikwanda of the Bemba speaking of Mpika has pointed out, political leaders should take the lead and ensure that their supporters also known as cadres, are tamed.
Chief Chikwanda has gone a step further to warn that he would not allow violent political parties to campaign in his chiefdom ahead of the August 2021 elections.
The chief said it was important for political party leaders to set an example for their followers by denouncing all forms of violent behavior.
Like most Zambians who want peace, the chief has said it was important for leaders to condemn violence regardless of who was involved.
He warned that violence if not curtailed has potential to degenerate into civil war.
And the Bishops Council of Zambia general secretary, Able Kaela, has also expressed similar sentiments warning political leaders to tame their cadres against political violence during and after elections.
Bishop Kaela said political violence can only be stopped by political leaders denouncing violence and advising their cadres to be tolerant towards other political parties.
Yesterday another attempt was made to bring political leaders together in prayer under the National Prayer Initiative for Peaceful Elections under the theme, proclaiming peaceful, issue based political campaigns to provide responsible leadership for the next five years of Zambia.
Yet again the major opposition party was missing from the prayers attended by President Edgar Lungu and many other political leaders taking part in the August elections.
The absence of the country’s major opposition from an initiative by the church to bring leaders together in an effort to create some form of harmony is disappointing.
It is a stark reminder of the uphill battle the country has in trying to find consensus. It is also disappointing that a party operating in a Christian nation consistently rejects any efforts to gather in prayer for peaceful elections.
Where is the faith of the leaders? One would be forced to ask when the same people consistently refuse to take part in national prayers. What are they praying for?
The prayer of every well-meaning Zambia is to have peaceful elections and for all those taking part to accept the outcome.
It is, therefore, important that the stage is set to ensure that a peaceful atmosphere is created now and going forward.
Let Zambia remain the regional example of a people who treasure peace and make efforts to protect this.