Editor's Comment

Plan for peaceful polls

PROFILE: VOTERS queue along Nkhwazi and Cha Cha Cha roads in Lusaka on. PICTURE: MACKSON WASAMUNU

PEACE is what every well-meaning citizen of the country wants to see before, during and after the August 12, 2021 elections.
Peace comes with several benefits to a country as it is the panacea for sustainable economic growth.
It is the cornerstone for national development, bearing fruit such as unity, love, joy and its offspring of common good for all.
Without peace, conflict becomes the order of things in a society or country arising from fear, hatred and anger.
Conflict negates development as has been witnessed in countries where peace has been elusive.
Conflict-torn countries use their resources to try to bring peace by investing in ammunition and training of soldiers instead development, thus depriving citizens of access to education, health, housing and other amenities.
Fortunately, Zambia has enjoyed peace since attaining independence in 1964.
The country was a beacon of peace during the formative years as a multi-party state, a status which continued under the one-party state and back to plural politics.
So acclaimed has Zambia’s peace been that it is known as the safest and most peaceful country in Africa.
Little wonder visitors to the country describe it as friendly and its people hospitable.
Caution must therefore be taken in the run-up to the August general elections to safeguard the peace the country has continued to enjoy.
Stakes may be high but they cannot be higher than upholding the peace and stability enjoyed for five decades.
With campaigns due to start soon, stakeholders are on the lookout for possible causes of conflict. The Zambia Police Service has undertaken to deploy 20,000 men and women in uniform to deal with trouble-makers who intend to disrupt the peace.
While the Police command is relying on its 20,000-plus officers to preserve the peace, it is not the numbers that will count.
Rather, the Police should count on the engagement it started with all political players to embrace the quest for peace.
That is the way to go because even if the police and other law enforcement entities may have the muscle to enforce law and order, the best solution is to prevent lawlessness in the first place.
Engagements with the various stakeholders in the elections process is key to maintaining peace.  This is because the police would win the trust of stakeholders, especially the political players.
As it were, some political players contend that the police are not keen on levelling the political field.  They argue that police do not apply the Public Order Act fairly.
Such misconceptions could and should be allayed now more than ever before.    The onus is largely on the police, but it is the responsibility of the political players too to embrace advice that the law enforcers give.
The police should, therefore, continue their engagements with the political parties.  There should be no excuse by any political player that they were unaware of their limitations.
Freedom of association, assembly and expression is important at all times, but it becomes particularly important at such times when politicians seek the support from members of the public.
This is a potential source of conflict between or among rival political groupings, hence the need for the police to dialogue with these contenders now.
It is good that the Police regularly trains and retrains its staff on various aspects of law enforcement.   Some of this training is bound to be put to test during these elections.
It is a test that the police must pass with flying colours for the sake of Zambia maintaining its much-cherished peace.

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