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Abash violence

THAT the ruling Patriotic Front and major opposition, the United Party for National Development (UPND), have pledged peaceful elections ahead of the Kaoma Town Council Chairperson by-election is commendable.
The position of the chairperson, which fell vacant following the resignation of Bindundu Mutti from the UPND in July, will be held on October 10.
Nominations are due today at the civic centre and will kick-start campaigns which will run up to October 9.
It is during campaigns when violence tends to rear its ugly head due to levels of intolerance among political players.
The PF and the UPND have been tagging alone in all the elections. The country’s two biggest political parties are the culprits in as far as perpetrating violence is concerned since the ouster of the Movement for Multi-party Democracy from power in 2011.
Prior to 2011, the MMD were part of the violence but they seem too weak now for any physical or electoral contest.
Further, the MMD is deeply engrossed in leadership wrangles and has no appetite for elections such as the one in Kaoma.
So there is relief in the country when the PF and UPND agree to hold peaceful campaigns because it is to the benefit of the citizenry as a whole.
However, the two should for once ensure that the pledge of holding peaceful elections comes to pass.
Peaceful elections also mean that law enforcement agencies will have time to attend to other pressing issues.
The two giants made a pact before the Sesheke by-elections but it turned out to be the most violent in recent years.
Politics is a game of competing for ideas and is not about hacking each other. Politics, like President Edgar Lungu has repeatedly stated, is not worth dying for.
So, why are people ready to kill one another?
Citizens expect civil language to be used as opposed to name-calling or insults being hurled at one another.
The onus lies on the leaders of the two political parties to show maturity in the manner they campaign.
Cadres follow the footsteps of their leaders. When a leader uses disparaging remarks at a rival, the followers will do the same.
The PF is in government while the UPND is the biggest opposition. What people in Kaoma will be interested in are issue-based politics, nothing else.
This country has a lot of challenges and people want to hear solutions. Some of the solutions lie with the cadres whose energy the country needs for development.
Cadres should not just be used for campaigns. There is something decent they can do apart from waiting for elections to become relevant.
Why not send the cadres to grow food so that the prices start coming down?
Violence and insults have no place in the country’s democratic dispensation.
By resorting to violence, political parties deliberately disregard the provisions of the electoral code of conduct. Parties that resort to violence eventually render themselves irrelevant to political discourse as they are sooner rather than later frowned upon.
No political party becomes more popular by engaging in violence. Violence is, in fact, a tool for the weak, those whose ideas do lack substance to be appreciated by any well-meaning Zambian.
The holding of violence-free elections will signal the maturity of our democratic credentials.
For this to happen, there is need for sensitisation of cadres by the political leadership and, invariably, the PF and UPND should take the lead.
Each political party must come up with a strategy of engaging cadres before, during and after elections. Zambia should by now have outgrown violence.
Peaceful campaigns are possible if all the contesting political parties can embrace tolerance to divergent views. Bow and arrow type of politics belongs to history, as President Lungu has repeatedly reminded citizens.
Kaoma can hold peaceful elections as was demonstrated, to a large extent, in the Katuba parliamentary by-election. After all, elections come and go but life will continue.
We are ‘One Zambia One Nation’.