Editor's Comment

Youths must think, act wisely

IT IS saddening that many youths today have become tools of violence in the hands of politicians. It may also be true that some youths volunteer themselves to do dirty work for those they regard as their leaders.
Whatever the case, it is just wrong for youths to find themselves in harm’s way, all in the name of party politics.
And at a time when it is expected that all leaders would give wise counsel to their cadres, it is sad and even sickening that some politicians choose to be confrontational. They choose to seem macho in the eyes of their cadres, ignoring the importance of the rule of law.
It would be wise for all politicians and the youths who show more brawn than brain to heed what Inspector General of Police Kakoma Kanganja has said.
In the wake of United Party for National Development (UPND) cadres’ attempt to disrupt Youth Day celebrations in Kitwe on Friday, the top cop says political leaders must TAME their members.
Indeed Zambia cannot allow the law of the jungle to reign supreme in a country that has chosen civility in the management of its affairs. The wild citizens must be tamed in a manner prescribed by the law.
The IG is fairly polite in “reminding political parties and the general public at large that assaulting, resisting or wilfully obstructing police officers in their due execution of duty is a serious criminal offence punishable by law.”
Surely, anyone worth his or her salt ought to know such aspects of the law. They need no reminding. In any case, ignorance is no defence at law.
It is time that the police stood firm against lawbreakers. More importantly, those that break the law must be conclusively prosecuted.
There are times when evident criminals are let off the hook for one reason or another. We hope this will not be the case in this incident. The guilty must feel the full weight of the law. The innocent, if any, will go free.
Mr Kanganja says: “I want all those that were involved in the fracas to be dealt with accordingly.”
The importance of this case is that it could set the right tone for the importance of the rule of law ahead of the August 12 general elections.
As it were, there is heightened excitement towards elections and sometimes this leads to violence. This can be stemmed, if not stopped altogether, if perpetrators are successfully prosecuted.
The police and other law enforcement units must, therefore, up their game to nip this real threat in the bud. They must be proactive rather than reactive, as was the case in Kitwe.
They don’t have to be ruthless, but they must be firm in their enforcement of the law.
Youths too should know that no amount of money is worth breaking the law for.  There also is no person worth fighting illegal battles for.
They may get legal support from their sponsors, but if or when they go behind bars, they will face the reality of prison alone.
It doesn’t have to come to this. The youths and others who believe in violence as a means to an end have other options available. Key among these options is dialogue.
There are some who argue that youths are easily enticed into being violent because they are jobless. This is nonsense. There are many youths, as disappointed as they may be, who have chosen the right path. More often than not, it is such youths who overcome heavy odds to make breakthroughs in their lives.
And as Patriotic Front secretary general Davies Mwila has advised, youths should choose to be productive.
The Government offers several youth empowerment programmes, and hundreds of youths are benefiting from these.
That is the way to go. Not the route of being pawns for politicians.

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