IT appears as though political parties are not being honest not only with themselves but with the public.

In public, they profess to preach peace, promising that their members would be at their best behaviour at all times.

But behind the scenes, they plot evil against their political opponents.  The top leadership in these parties must not be allowed to plead innocence to what is happening on the ground.

How could the UPND for example explain what is happening in Lusaka’s Matero Township where youths brandishing machetes and other assorted weaponry go about putting up posters in the night?

Someone within the party must be giving them the campaign material and directing them when to mount them – and of course to be able to defend themselves.

But if their intentions were legal, why should they be armed to the teeth in the process?

In one of the letters that we published on the Reader’s Forum yesterday, Mr Peter Sinkamba narrated what he witnessed in Lusaka’s Thornpark area between 13.00-14.00 hours recently.

Wrote Mr Sinkamba:  “A gang of youths more than 200, armed with pangas, slashers, knives, catapults and all sorts of offensive weapons raided the area terrorising innocent people, motorists especially …Whichever party they belong to, that level of impunity and terror should never be entertained.”

There is clearly no respect for law and order when cadres are allowed to behave in this manner.

This is the more reason why when leaders of the various political parties sign peace pacts, the message must transcend to the foot soldiers.

It is only when the foot soldiers across the political divide embrace and accept one another as one people that peace would prevail.

Incidents such as the torching of the PF Chawama Constituency office in the early hours of Tuesday should not be happening in a democracy.

It is sad that such incidents are occurring even after the two major parties have agreed to carry out peaceful campaigns in other parts of the country.

Just the other day, the PF and UPND parliamentary candidates in Livingstone were planting trees together to signify peace.

But with Tuesday’s signing of the “mother of all peace pacts” by PF Secretary-General Davies Mwape and his UPND counterpart Batuke Imenda in Lusaka, the nation expects more sober campaigning.

Other signatories were Police Inspector General Kakoma Kanganja and the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ represented by its Chief Electoral Officer Mr Patrick Nshindano.

Mr Nshindano said signing of the resolutions was a major milestone and he was confident that the stakeholders would fulfil their pledge.

“I’m hoping that the two parties will not backtrack on the pledge to maintain peace heading to the August 12 elections,” Mr Nshindano said.

And with the ECZ announcing that partial suspension of the campaigns had been lifted in Lusaka, let what had been signed be a reality.

Genuine peace must be seen on the ground.  The two parties owe it to the nation to ensure that the public go about their daily chores without fear of being caught in the cross-fire.

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