Editor's Comment

Give peace chance

Violence in politics.

THE principle ‘an eye for an eye’ works in such a way that a person who has been injured by another person retaliates against the offender.Alternatively, another aggrieved person may do so on behalf of the injured person.
This is the character of Zambian politics being practised by the ruling Patriotic Front and the major opposition, the United Party for National Development (UPND).
It is a pity that Zambia has tolerated political cadres who wear regalia mimicking security wings, especially the army.
So sophisticated are some security wings of major political parties that they seem to be licensed to terrorise, discriminate against or beat up political rivals.
We have seen the rise of a culture of sowing hatred for fellow citizens with opposing divergent political views.
This culture of intolerance to people holding contrary political views has contributed to violence being witnessed before, during and after elections.
Despite repeated counsel by the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) about violence, the vice has continued. Although there are some signs of this easing off, especially after President Edgar Lungu’s strong stand against violence, there is need for continued efforts to eradicate it.
As a democratic country, Zambia has embraced elections as a means of determining who politically leads the country at various levels of leadership.
Citizens have to freely decide who represents them at ward, mayoral, constituency and republican levels.
Political violence not only adversely affects democracy, but could also adversely affect the country’s economy through destruction of property as well as injury and deaths of political rivals.
In the post-2016 general elections, the country witnessed a new form of violence which targeted public facilities such as markets, offices and Zesco installations.
Mahatma Ghandi, the popular Indian peace activist who was the leader of the Indian independence movement against British rule, counselled against ‘an eye for an eye’ because doing so could end up leaving the world blind.
Unless Zambian political players begin to appreciate Mahatma Ghandi’s counsel, Zambia will continue being a political battleground.
The hatred citizens see in politicians makes them wonder whether Zambia is indeed a Christian nation where love and tolerance are supposed to be the order of the day.
Will Zambia wait for October 18 of every year, the day for national reconciliation, to renounce their aggression and bad language they use throughout the year against rival politicians?
President Lungu has shown leadership by denouncing violence even by those in the party that he leads, the Patriotic Front.
If all other political leaders showed such magnanimity, violence could be significantly reduced, if not eliminated altogether.
Unfortunately, the proponents of ‘an eye for an eye’, rebranded as ‘panga for panga’ and `punch for punch’, still don’t seem to see the folly of such a stance.
Their contention that they would use pangas only in defence means that they would arm themselves or have actually already armed themselves on the assumption that they would be attacked.
It is such armed militia who would actually claim that they are defending themselves when in actual fact they are the aggressors.
Their leaders should take a leaf from President Lungu and instruct a stop to this barbaric way of trying to win an argument or indeed an election.
Cadres generally listen to their leaders. If they are told to arm themselves, they will do so. If they are told to engage in peaceful debates, they will do so.
While President Lungu spoke out against violence after the Chilanga by-election, the major opposition party, the UPND, opted to justify their actions as defending themselves.
Their position does not explain, let alone justify, why they attacked journalists.
Surely, such a misdeed must be condemned by all those that contend that they want tranquillity before, during and after elections.

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