Editor's Comment

Where’s peace-for-peace pledge?

Violence in politics.

IN YESTERDAY’S edition, we published a story in which United Party for National Development (UPND) pledged to conduct free and issue-based campaigns in the forthcoming Katuba Parliamentary by-election.
An ugly incident yesterday casts a lot of doubt on this promise, especially that it comes a day after the Human Rights Commission (HRC) advised on the need to respect the rights of all stakeholders.
UPND Katuba campaign manager Cornelius Mweetwa assured that his party is going to Katuba to present real issues affecting the local people.
Mr Mweetwa went on to say UPND wants to give Katuba residents a decent opportunity to choose their representatives in a free and fair manner.
“As a campaign team, we will go in with issue-based politics and we are going into Katuba with peace.
“Katuba is a UPND seat and we are going there to replace our own. It shall be peace-for-peace and not panga-for-panga,” Mr Mweetwa said.
Mr Mweetwa further promised to work with all stakeholders to deliver a peaceful campaign, regardless of who the Patriotic Front candidate is.
The lawmaker also reaffirmed Parliament’s resolve to end violence through a unanimous vote.
And as far as lawmakers are concerned, Katuba by-election will be the first litmus test on stakeholders’ commitment to end violence.
We are, however, taken aback that hardly a day after all the assurances and resolve to have peaceful campaigns in Katuba, UPND cadres went against the resolve.
According to reports from the area, a human rights activist and a passerby clad in PF regalia were yesterday beaten up by suspected UPND cadres.
This certainly contradicts the assurances made by the party that they are going to the campaign arena with a message of peace-for-peace and not panga-for-panga.
For how long shall we continue to dwell on politics of the stone-age when life has evolved so much?
Surely five decades after independence, we still have people who believe that the only way to get a vote is through violence.
Resolutions have been made and pacts signed but it is saddening that political parties still find a way of going back to the stone-age way of campaigning, which is using violent means.
We believe Zambians are tired of hearing this proverbial song of violence.
Again we say, like we’ve always done, the buck stops at the leadership across the political structures.
While pronouncements were being made at the higher level, we expected that the message was also relayed to those in lower ranks of the party structures. Moreover, that is where violence takes place.
If pronouncements are made at the higher level, yet the members at the grassroots are not enlightened, it becomes an act of public relations meant to make people believe that the party believes in peace and yet not.
The UPND leadership should take responsibility over what has transpired in Katuba and reprimand those responsible. This is the only way they will prove to all members that they are serious about their pronouncement to end violence.
Is it also a coincidence that violence seems to occur more in the UPND strongholds? Our memories are still fresh on the blood incidences that characterised Sesheke elections, among other UPND strongholds. This definitely reflects badly on the party.
The UPND must put their house in order and uphold the pledges they made to the people of Zambia.
The UPND must understand that violence has never and can never be a solution to any challenge.
Actually, violence has potential to scare away the very people who are supposed to vote for the party.
It is a known fact that where there is violence, voters’ apathy is also high.
Needless to say, violence has potential to scare investors, thereby depriving the country of the much-needed development.
Political parties should therefore look at the bigger picture of how violence affects the country as a whole.
Actually, there is no one who can claim to have a genuine passion to serve the country and yet condone violence.
To the UPND, we say, what happened to the peace-for-peace pledge? Remember, actions speak louder than words.

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