Former vice-president and businessman Enock Kavindele has advised the Patriotic Front government to put a stop to the prevailing electoral violence, warning that if not curtailed, it would affect foreign investment thereby denying the country job opportunities.
The Lusaka-based politician observed that electoral violence would not end in Zambia as long as there were high levels of unemployment among youths.
Kavindele told news Diggers in an interview that there is a new phenomenon in the political arena which encourages youths to engage in panga-for-panga election campaigns, a situation he said never existed during his time in office.
“This violence during elections has been going on for quite a while now, what I can advise is that violence is bad for development. Investors do not want to go to a place where violence prevails like here in Zambia,” Kavindele said.
“As a democracy, we should avoid violence and just let people decide who they want to vote for based on their expectations. So somebody has to sensitise citizens to stop the violent conduct during elections. Somebody has to go round teaching and training people on the disadvantages of violence. So, what the Electoral Commission of Zambia are doing, going round to sensitise people of the danger of violence is good but its not enough. So anyone else assisting in that manner is most welcome.”
He condemned the panga-for-panga approach in resolving political differences, adding that the consequences were dire.
“I have just said that violence is not good at all. We all know the dangers. It’s a new phenomenon. Panga-for-panga is a new phenomenon. We never used to have those kinds of elections during the time I was in active politics. They never were there at all. In fact, in the past you would find a wife is a member of a ruling party while the husband is a member of a different party and vice-versa,” he reminisced.
“Nowadays we rarely see that and it’s because of the new phenomenon that you have to employ violence during election. A wife would belong to a different party from the husband, but they lived together peacefully you know, in the same house. Today that can’t happen.”
Kavindele however said, much as the the violence was unacceptable, it was important to admit that youth unemployment was a major contributing factor.
“So a democracy has no room for violence. Certainly, there wasn’t this much violence during the time I was in government. And we campaigned based on what we were promising people that we would do. We went round promising people telling them why we couldn’t do certain things. You see youth unemployment is a contributor. When people have so many hours in a day doing very little or doing nothing, they get excited to join these violence campaigns. Again, it’s a case of which comes out first, is it the chicken or the egg? So, if more jobs are created for young people to keep them busy, we wouldn’t experience this violence we are experiencing today,” said Kavindele.
“If the youths are employed, they would be too busy to find time to do those things. Remember it’s the youths that engage in violence and they do that because they have nothing to do. If the government and the private sector could priorities creating job opportunities for the youths, and employing more people, we wouldn’t see this. So, it’s a challenge to the business community, it’s a challenge to government and everyone interested in seeing government develop that employment is created for our youths.”