Columnists Features

Love key in 2016 tripartite election campaigns

NKOLOMBA

MARTIN NKHOLOMBA
AS WE draw nigh to the 2016 presidential, parliamentary and local government elections, we will need one thing – love. We will need to realise more than ever before that we are brothers and sisters.
That is the only way to expect violence-free campaigns and elections. In the absence of love, some people, often a few, have done awful things, much to the disappointment of the majority.
I was forcefully propelled to share this because, as a journalist, I have seen the ugly face of violence rear its head. Not once, many times. And, at least on one occasion, I escaped stray punches and kicks from furious cadres who fought in a fashion much similar to professional boxers or kick boxers. The only difference was that, unlike professional pugilists, they were brutal, merciless and disregarded sense, not even common sense.
But, definitely, that has not reflected well on the ethos of cadres, who are very important people in any sane political system such as a democracy. Cadres are supporters who passionately work to enhance the popularity of their candidates or aspiring candidates.
They feel great about their parties and democratic dispensations. They are almost always zealous politically, which thing unfortunately some political leaders sometimes misconstrue for energy to be dispensed on political violence. Real cadres are good, rational people.
Mr Lungu and presidents of various political parties have denounced political violence, and it remains for us journalists to do the same in our own way through articles such as this one in the hope that once people have read and similarly denounced the vice, there would be a ripple effect among the people they influence.
In Africa, and Zambia in particular, innocent people have suffered at the hands of some power-hungry politicians and their supporters. That has happened because the politicians and supporters have not looked upon their victims as their brothers and sisters.
The political or electoral violence we have witnessed before in Zambia has not been large-scale as in other parts of African.
Even so, we need to eliminate it from our country’s politics and that is extremely possible. What makes it even more possible is the fact that Zambians naturally hate violence.
We are not the sort of people that find pleasure in hate speech, negative discrimination and political machinations that attempt to tear apart our common heritage – peace and unity.
As with every society, there are a few riff raffs and rabble-rousers who can go to great lengths to disturb peace for some rewards, most often cheap ones. I mean those they can definitely do without.
Thankfully, such have not been able to prevail because Zambians cannot tolerate them and their obnoxious perpetrations.
Zambians have historically been able to prevent political and other forms of violence on the basis of the love of God. It is that love that has taught them to look at one another as brothers and sisters, which when considered is what it is.
Where love is respected, a brother or sister will not confront each other physically to the point of being injured, maimed and even killed in extreme cases.
No, they will not even wish to engage in bizarre and life-threatening altercations.
Love, once embraced and allowed to reign, as it does not force itself on people, will make people realise and always take it to the fore that there is no need for them to fight and kill each other over fleeting things, political differences for example.
In fact, it will enable them to see the value of tolerating divergent views and amicably dealing with differences no matter their gravity.
We need to guard against everything that can cause our democracy to regress from hate speech to political violence and intolerance.
To do this, our politicians and their supporters will need to preoccupy themselves with issues in campaigns for the 2016 general elections. Issues like eh boom, (borrowing from a detergent advert), to mean the thing to go for (the real deal).
There are numerous reasons all well-meaning Zambians should discourage and pray against any sort of violence, particularly political violence, but one of the major ones is that it affects the weak mostly, as those who are strong financially and otherwise are often never its victims. Another one is that it can cause the loss of everything people have worked for and worse, lives.
So, as politicians and Zambians slowly begin to gear up for the elections, may it be in their hearts to love one another, look at each other through its eyes so that they remember that when all is said and done, they are brothers and sisters.
Thanks for reading.
The author is Zambia Daily Mail sub-editor

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