Editor's Comment

Hichilema should tame his violent cadres

THE violence that took place in Matero Constituency where United Party for National Development (UPND) cadres vandalised the Patriotic Front (PF) offices is heart-breaking and should not be condoned by all peace-loving Zambians.
It is disappointing and energy-supping that this violence comes barely two months after the indaba where all political parties committed to ending violence.
It is an indictment on the party and we appeal to the conscience of the UPND leadership to genuinely promote civil politics devoid of anarchism.
After damaging the PF office in Matero, the UPND cadres yesterday callously blocked roads leading to their secretariat in Rhodespark, forcing motorists to use alternative routes.
In the Matero incident, the cadres looted bars, emptying beer bottles they came across. They also beat up a PF official and burnt documents they grabbed from PF offices.
What politics is this? Does the UPND believe that politics is synonymous with crime?
Such action is a mockery to the Zambians and the distinguished religious leaders who convened a meeting at which all parties committed to ending violence.
Among other resolutions the 18 political parties present committed to was ending political violence through various political leadership structures.
This entails that all political parties should ensure the virtue of peace and harmony is internalised in party members at all levels, especially the grassroots, where violence has been more prevalent.
Political party leaders also agreed to end the use of perceived military regalia alongside pangas ahead of the general elections.
It is, however, sad that despite this resolution, cadres are still spotted in berets which are part of the military headdress.
It is the duty of leaders in these political parties to ensure that resolutions of the indaba are filtered through all structures to all members to avoid going against what they committed to.
The parties further pledged to refrain from the use of hate speech and offensive language, especially against one another.
Despite this resolution, some politicians – Hakainde Hichilema of the UPND in particular – are still grabbing headlines with hate speech against their opponents.
Mr Hichilema has refused to recognise any effort President Lungu is making to turn around the economic fortunes of the country choosing, instead, to go ballistic , and unfairly so, against President Lungu.
We understand that Mr Hichilema must say something in his pursuit for State power but we believe, and Zambians do, too, that he must be civil because those that his language appeals to are likely to emulate him, blindly though.
It would not be too much to ask Mr Hichilema not to be a merchant of violence, directly or impliedly.
It is insincere for politicians to have committed to the indaba resolutions before the Zambian people and yet fail to uphold them.
It is imperative that all politicians stick to their promises and walk the talk of the indaba for a peaceful Zambia.
While Mr Hichilema has departed from indaba resolutions, we commend President Lungu for exhibiting maturity even amidst unwarranted attacks and hate speech against him.
The head of State has really proved that he is a leader with a big and tolerant heart. Not so many people can stomach the kind of insults and hate speech President Lungu has taken.
While his political opponents have scandalised him in every way possible, he has continued to preach peace and love at every opportunity he gets.
These are the virtues we want to see in all our leaders, especially those aspiring for public office, like the presidency.
In light of the violence just experienced at the hands of UPND cadres, we implore the three church mother bodies to reconvene another meeting in line with the recommendation of the indaba as a follow-up before the election.
The meeting should serve as a reminder to political party leaders on their pledge to uphold the indaba resolutions.
Our politicians need to understand that the peace we have been enjoying for over five decades now came at a very high price which our forefathers so dearly paid.
It is, therefore, the duty of the current political generation to ensure that this peace is not sacrificed at the altar of self-expediency.

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