Zambia will be holding the general elections on August 12, 2021. There are quite a number of political parties participating in this year’s general elections.
However, the various political parties taking part in this year’s polls will be selling their manifestos during campaigns. Ultimately, this will enable the electorate make informed decision to elect leaders of their own choice. The campaigns for this year’s elections will be conducted without the political rallies as directed by the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ).
The banning of political rallies by the Electoral Commission of Zambia was necessitated by the coronavirus which has taken the world by storm. In this context, the lives of the people must be protected at all costs.
What is cardinal is that the campaigns by political parties must be issue based devoid of political violence. It is unfortunate that some incidents of political violence have been witnessed in the recent past. The political violence is perpetrated by the Patriotic Front (PF) cadres and the United Party for National Development (UPND) cadres. Some people have died and others maimed owing to political violence.
Just last Thursday, there was mayhem between the Patriotic Front cadres and the United Party for National Development in Mandevu Township where some innocent people were injured during the clashes between the two rival political parties. The political violence erupted in the wake of the roadshows by the United Party for National Development in the area.
If the above incident was not bad enough, the vehicle belonging to the Patriotic Front was set ablaze. Political violence has been reported in Nakonde, Monze, Mazabuka and Mongu. The UPND cadres assaulted two police officers at Nakonde Police Station in a bid to rescue their colleagues who were detained at the police station. On the other hand, some UPND cadres have been attacked by the PF cadres. The worst scenario being that the PF sympathiser was slain or rather killed by the UPND cadres.
The question begging for an answer is: why people people kill others because of an election? One notable thing worth considering is that we should embrace the One Zambia One Nation motto. Moreover, Zambia is bigger than any political party.
Mr. Masiye Banda the Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Home Affairs a few days ago held a press briefing at which he condemned the political violence which has rocked the country ahead of the 2021 polls. He implored the police to arrest the perpetrators of political violence regardless of one’s political affiliation.
However, people are interested in knowing how the political candidates aspiring for public office will address the economic challenges the country is grappling with. They are not interested in political violence being perpetrated by the political cadres.
The crux of the matter is that political violence is an affront to democracy. In view of this, it is imperative for the police to sternly deal with perpetrators of political violence before, during and after the 2021 general elections.
President Edgar Chagwa Lungu has on several occasions denounced political violence. President Lungu said that the perpetrators of political violence regardless of the political party they belong to should be brought to book to face the full wrath of the law.
All said and done, the issue based campaigns by the political parties contesting this year’s elections should be the way to go. If truth be told; it is this one: Political violence should not be condoned under any stress of imagination.
ELEMIYA PHIRI Lusaka.