SUBMISSIONS to the Commission of Inquiry tasked to examine the causes of the political violence before and after the August 11, 2016 general elections are gaining appreciable momentum.
There are positive signs that this inquiry will achieve its goals of not only establishing the causes of political violence but also, and more importantly, finding solutions.
More people are coming forward to share their experiences with the Justice Munalula Lisimba-led commission.
The commission, appointed in accordance with the Inquiries Act, is gathering evidence into the voting patterns between 2006 and 2016 and the root causes of these patterns.
The commission’s mandate also includes examining to what extent the pre-election political violence could have influenced the voting patterns in the August 11, 2016 general elections.
The commission, which is going round the country, will also look at the role of political parties, traditional rulers, and the media in shaping voting patterns and instigation of violence, among others.
It is good that more people have taken advantage of the commission’s presence in their locations to make submissions to the commission, whose mandate was recently extended to end of June.
In some areas, the commission has had to extend the hours of sitting so as to accommodate as many people as possible.
That is how it should be.
It is important for citizens to give their views to help the commission come up with a comprehensive overview of the causes of electoral violence.
Electoral violence, if unchecked, can plunge this country into chaos, including civil strife.
For a country which has been acclaimed for its peace, both regionally and internationally, it cannot afford to lose its status because of electoral violence.
Peace, when blemished, is difficult to recoup, hence President Edgar Lungu’s decision to appoint a commission to help Government establish the real motivation for the violence.
Apart from individual submissions, we expect political parties, the Church and other interested bodies to submit so that the commission has a lot of quality material from which to make a report.
This is a perfect opportunity for the country to reflect on the violence during the election year and suggest to the commission what may be the cause as well as make recommendations.
Violence during elections can influence the outcome of the voting as people cast their votes in an environment where there is intimidation.
Violence is a crime against humanity and it should have no place in a democratic dispensation such as ours.
Let us allow the commission to make the most of the sittings by turning up in huge numbers to tell the commission what we know.
We should not allow such an opportunity to make submissions to the commission, which is accepting both oral and written evidence, to elude us.
The submissions, to form the basis of the commission’s report into the violence, is critical ahead of the 2021 elections.
The commission is expected to submit its report to the President after June when it winds up its work. At this pace, it is virtually certain that the report will provide the desired solutions.