Editor's Comment

Violence should be rooted out

IT IS saddening that violence seems to have secured itself a slot in every election regardless of the level.
Rarely do we have political campaigns completely free of violence. In most instances, the only thing that differentiates one political campaign or election from another is the level of violence.
In the most unfortunate cases, election campaigns have gotten bloody and life has been lost.
In other instances, pockets of violence have been recorded with injuries here and there.
With less than two weeks to go before the July 26 local government by-elections, violence is again rearing its ugly head.
Over the weekend, cadres of the two major parties – Patriotic Front (PF) and United Party for National Development (UPND) – were allegedly involved in some scuffles.
“It is unfortunate that we have recorded these pockets of violence over the weekend. We do not expect this because their leaders have been discouraging violence,” Inspector General of Police Kakoma Kanganja said.
Police spokesperson Esther Katongo said the PF command centre in Chilanga was attacked and five of their vehicles in Lusaka were stoned by suspected UPND supporters.
After PF supporters reported the attacks to the police, UPND followers also lodged a counter-complaint against the former.
Whatever the case, violence is an evil and it certainly does not deserve a place in our society.
One of India’s greatest leaders, Mahatma Gandhi, once said, “I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent.”
Perpetrators of violence need to understand that violence has far-reaching consequences with potential to bring down a nation.
In an election, violence undermines the democratic right of citizens to elect leaders of their choice.
For instance, violence has potential to scare voters from casting their ballots, thereby encouraging apathy.
This is not good for a country like ours, which has been struggling with low voter turnout in most elections.
Violence can only worsen voter apathy, thereby defeating the whole purpose of democracy.
Needless to say, violence also compromises the outcome of elections because voters are intimidated into voting for unpreferred candidates out of fear.
On the other hand, violence has potential to ‘decampaign’ a candidate or political party perceived to be hostile.
It is actually in the best interest of political parties and candidates to ensure peaceful elections.
Instead of aiming at each other’s throats, political parties should wisely use campaign periods to interact with citizens and share their visions.
Political parties should only differ as far as ideologies are concerned and not on a personal level.
As a Christian nation which has pledged to uphold biblical principles, it is expected that our political conduct will be guided by such.
Peaceful elections are possible only if Christian values become the basis on which political interactions are anchored.
In such a case, the language of politicians would be seasoned with love and unity as opposed to profanity.
Forgiveness and reconciliation will also be part of the day-to-day political interactions.
This is how it ought to be.
The country should not wait for one day in a year to reconcile and show love.
Actually, the National Day of Prayer should be a time when all political players put their differences aside and unite to seek God concerning the affairs of the nation.
It is, however, saddening that some political cadres with deviant minds have no regard for Christian values and later on the law.
These are a danger to society and should be held accountable for their misdeeds.
The police need to, therefore, be firm and deal with these perpetrators of violence in a decisive manner to send a very strong message.
The police have the blessing of the head of State to deal with any perpetrators irrespective of the parties they belong to.
The police have no excuse but to go flat-out and hunt down all those who have continued to cause havoc in election campaigns with impunity.
On the other hand, political leaders should use their influence to tame deviant cadres who are tarnishing their names.
Politicians should understand that where violence ensues, there are no winners but only losers.

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