Editor's Comment

There’s no justification for violence

NORTHERN Province commissioner of police Bonny Kapeso (right) displays home-made petrol bombs recovered from 28 suspected UPND cadres who sought refuge at party vice-president Geoffrey Mwamba’s residence in Kasama yesterday. On the ground are machetes, catapults, crow bars and knives. PICTURE: ZANIS

THE alleged discovery of petrol bombs and assorted offensive weapons in the house of United Party for National Development (UPND) vice-president for administration, Geoffrey Mwamba, is distressing.
Police on Wednesday arrested 28 UPND cadres and say they recovered five petrol bombs and assorted offensive weapons at the residence of Mr Mwamba.
The cadres are said to have been involved in yet another criminal act of tearing and removing President Lungu’s campaign posters, hours after the Patriotic Front presidential candidate pulled a mammoth crowd at a rally in Kasama on Tuesday.
When pursued by police, the cadres retreated into Mr Mwamba’s house, which turned out to be their hideout, and started stoning police officers, Northern Province commissioner of police Bonny Kapeso told us.
Mr Kapeso said the police were compelled to tear-gas and forcefully enter the house after the cadres refused to heed to calls to surrender themselves.
It was during this operation that the police came across five petrol bombs and other offensive weapons such as pangas, metal bars, and knives in the house.
We are left to wonder if there is any other motive for UPND cadres to keep such dangerous weapons other than harming their opponents, especially at a time the country has been marred with political violence.
We all ought to know that possession of offensive weapons is illegal and a threat to national peace.
This is because in an instance that these cadres are emotionally charged or are under the influence of alcohol, what would stop them from unleashing these weapons on their opponents and indeed innocent citizens?
One shudders to imagine the damage if any of those petrol bombs was dropped at a rally or indeed any densely populated place like Lusaka City Market.
Such conduct by UPND cadres should therefore be condemned in the strongest terms by all peace-loving Zambians.
We commend the police for arresting these thugs hiding behind the tag of political cadres before they could harm innocent citizens.
It has also been said that these cadres were also caught removing posters of President Lungu.
Such provocative acts have potential to cause anarchy in instances that the opponents fail to restrain themselves.
It is in this vein that we also strongly condemn the UPND’s ‘operation watermelon’ campaign which entails their members wearing Patriotic Front (PF) regalia in public in a bid to disguise themselves.
This is no doubt a recipe for violence and anarchy because it is likely to attract angry reactions from PF cadres.
In fact this has already happened in Choma where there was a near punch-up when PF members got incensed at the sight of UPND cadres wearing the ruling party’s regalia and using some of it to clean their vehicles.
This watermelon operation could also be a way of disguising themselves when committing heinous crimes which they would then blame on the PF.
We commend the local PF leadership for exhibiting maturity and civility by restraining their youths from retaliating against the open provocation.
This is the kind of leadership we expect across all political parties – leadership that guides members to do the right thing even under very difficult circumstances.
We need leaders who understand that violence is not and can never be a solution to any grievance.
Martin Luther King Jr once said: “The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate. So it goes. Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.”
It therefore goes to say there’s no single justification for violence in our society.
While some people have tried to justify violence as a fight to defend human values, it should be known that it is not possible to engage in violence without causing permanent damage to the same values one is trying to defend.
We agree with one English writer, Tolken, who said: “He that breaks a thing to find out what it is, has left the path of wisdom.”
We could also say he who tears down a country in order to rule it has left the path of wisdom.
We therefore need leaders like President Lungu who can publicly declare that: I am not worthy to die for, you don’t need to shed blood to keep me in power. Let there be peace.”
And borrowing from the words of Mahatma Gandhi, there is no single cause that any man should kill for, not even ascending to political office.

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