Editor's Comment

Take responsibility

ARCHBISHOP of Lusaka Alick Banda says the silence by some political party leaders on violence is worrying especially with a few days remaining before the polls.
The Archbishop is concerned and rightly so that even when violence is being perpetrated, the main opposition – United Party for National Development – has chosen to remain mute.
For instance, one would have expected the party leadership to come strongly against the barbaric act but this was not the case.  Instead, what we are hearing are remarks to the effect that investigations are not conclusive on the culprits.
Is there really any doubt about the perpetrators, generally, of the murders?  Of course for now these are suspects.  But even as this may be, you expect anyone who truly abhors violence to come out strongly in condemning the murders.
Silence or excuses, unfortunately, do more harm than good because some cadres could interpret such silence as endorsement of the act.
Leaders need to be take responsibility over the misconduct of their members. Leaders must not only claim to be against violence but must be seen to act in such manner.
In this case of the murders, even a word of sympathy to the families of those killed adds value to the collective quest to stem political violence.
Political leaders by nature wield a certain level of influence over their supporters.  Whatever they endorse is usually followed by all or most of their supporters. Similarly whatever they condemn will be condemned by their supporters.
Unfortunately, many cadres just follow mob psychology without applying much, if any, reasoning.  If cadres applied reasoning, we would not be witnessing the kind of violence being witnessed now.
This is why leaders must help such members to take a path that conforms to the norms of civility.
If one cannot do a simple thing as condemning violence, how can they be expected to proactively address the vice?
Political leaders must look at the bigger picture of what is good for Zambia and not just achieving a political ambition.
Zambia is fortunate to have a head of State, Edgar Chagwa Lungu, who walks the talk on condemnation of violence.  He has not only repeatedly condemned violence but has also allowed the law to take its course even against those that support him.
Other political leaders would do well to take a leaf from this way of managing those that they lead.
Violence must not be condemned only when it is committed by a political rival.  Even when your own child does something against the law, condemn them.
If, as a leader, you do not want to find yourself in a situation where you have to chide your own supporters, then ensure that they do not commit such heinous crimes in the first place.
If you cannot reprimand them and you have no general control over them, then you do not own any manner of a leadership position.
Of course if you have thousands or millions of followers, it is virtually impossible to expect all of them to behave well.  There, inevitably, will be some rogues.  It is still your responsibility as a leader to guide them. Keep telling them that they are wrong  when they do wrong.
Violence must never be justified, as seems to be the case in some instances.  Violence is criminal and perpetrators must face the law.
Political leaders who tolerate violence must know that nurturing this today will work against them in future.  When strife breaks out, everyone is affected regardless of political affiliation.
It is hypocritical to claim to love the Zambian people and yet act in a manner that puts them in harm’s way.
Politics is not a battle of fists but of ideologies.  Let political parties tell Zambians what they have to offer instead of getting into battles of the strongest physically.
It is not only undemocratic but primitive to escalate differences in ideology into a physical battle.
If the peace the country has enjoyed for over five decades is allowed to slip through Zambians’ collective fingers, those that put this stain on Zambia will forever be remembered for the wrong reasons.

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