WE ABHOR the political violence that took place at the Leopards Hill Memorial Park in Lusaka on Saturday.
We are deeply saddened, just like other well-meaning Zambians, by the clash between cadres of the ruling Patriotic Front and the opposition United Party for National Development (UPND).
What is worrying mostly is that it is innocent mourners, who had nothing to do with either the PF or UPND but were at Memorial Park to perform the solemn duty of sending off their departed relatives and friends, who were caught up in the fracas.
When mourners went to the Memorial Park, one of the respected burial sites – just as any other – they had no idea that it would be the battleground for two rival parties and some of them may end up in hospital nursing wounds.
Clashes between the two parties are primarily caused by the UPND leadership’s refusal to accept the outcome of last year’s general election. By so doing, they are consciously sowing a seed of discontent and disillusionment among their members, and projecting a picture that is not tenable in a democracy.
They are expending negative energy in an effort to elicit favourable feedback from Zambians and the international community, and they do not seem to care about the consequences of such a hardliner stand.
The UPND know that there is a difference between lawlessness and democracy. As a party, they need to be in charge of their destiny but should also realise that in all their schemes, the 15 million Zambians ultimately have a say.
We also implore the PF to be above board always, exercise maximum restraint and demonstrate maturity even under extreme provocation. We expect the PF to inspire and win the love of all.
They should be inspired by Presidents Lungu and Sata’s stand of non-violence as originally espoused by great philosopher and leader Mahatma Gandhi’s saying that “an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind”.
It is high time the PF and UPND showed maturity and behaved responsibly, especially that other political players look up to them for inspiration.
What inspiration, then, will the other political parties get from the two if all they know is attacking each other day and night?
Leaders of such mobs, who know themselves, feel there is a permissive environment for bad behaviour in our politics, especially that the UPND – the biggest opposition – has refused to respect institutions of governance.
Democracy, which Zambia has chosen, demands an understanding of differing opinions, including losing an election. It is enriching to have a multiplicity of opinions.
However, what is happening now is a suppression of those opinions using brawn, rather than brains, to paint a picture to the international world that Zambia is on fire. They are craving for catastrophic scenes to justify their colluded positions that violence is simmering.
The country’s two major political parties must begin to exercise restraint and realise that the ballot is the best platform for victory in any democratic election or set-up. Those that decide to participate in a democratic election should be ready for its outcome, especially in the case of last year’s general election where not a single observation mission – local and international – disputed the outcome.
Even those with ill comments now accepted then that the elections were free and fair. We wonder what has changed.
But it is such deliberate flip-flopping that is causing confusion. However, we appeal to the leadership of the PF and UPND to counsel their supporters. Turning graveyards into battlefronts makes originators of democracy turn in their graves and takes Zambia more than four decades back in terms of democracy.
Police, on the other hand, should deal firmly with perpetrators to sustain the peace that we have enjoyed and cherished for years.
They have a duty to ensure that certain behaviour is not allowed.
Enough is enough.