Former defence minister George Mpombo says the peace accord signed between UPND and the ruling PF is a “poppycock defective treaty built on the quicksand of political expediency”.

In an interview with News Diggers! Mpombo said the peace deal was ridiculous and ludicrous because it didn’t address critical underlining issues fermenting political violence, which he said had been perpetuated by the two warring parties.

“It is a poppycock defective treaty, which is built on the quicksand of political expediency. It’s both ridiculous and ludicrous because it doesn’t address critical underlining issues surrounding and fermenting political violence. The gangrenous that has seeped into the fabric of Zambian politics must firstly be addressed if meaningful calm will return to our politic putrefaction. Politics of hate and character assassination, politics of ethnicity and irredentism, politics of ravaging and debilitating poverty are major contributors to political and electoral violence in the country. The severe lack of appreciation of principles of plural politics, coupled with humpty-dumpty leadership delinquency, including eloquent absence of ideological politics in our national discourse, all contribute to the unacceptable levels of political intolerance, not illegal occupation of markets,” Mpombo observed.

“What we are saying is that, all these political violent activities emanate from inadequacies of leaders of political parties. If leaders display high level of political tolerance, adherence to political values, it will be the same to their followers. So, when the leaders remain deeply embedded in politics of muckraking, hate, it will be located in the attitudes of their followers. So, if leaders can fail to meet as head of political parties, if leaders can only display attitudes of irreconcilable differences then all the signs we are seeing are signs of feeble handshakes to portray political reconciliation. The problems will, however, continue. So, what we are saying is that, if we get to have an atmosphere of political calmness, political peace, political coherence and unity of purpose, leaders themselves must show that at the highest level.”

He said the country would continue to experience politically-motivated violence unless President Edgar Lungu and other political leaders met and announced that they did not want violence.

“The President and the other political party leaders themselves should meet and shake hands, not send emissaries to go and shake hands then expect citizens to believe that you will refrain from violent activities. So, if they don’t do that, they are engaging in what I call ‘political futility.’ Leaders need to demonstrate their leaders and not send their juniors to demonstrate it for them. For instance, when you talk about markets, it’s mind-boggling because markets by statues, they are supposed to be run by local councils in conjunction with the local government. So, to sign a document to say that, ‘we are going to remove political cardres and what have you from markets,’ you are just trying to correct historical blunders, which have been perpetuated by this government in power, of course. So, there must be adherence of law first by the President and those political leaders representing several Zambians across the country. People must adhere to the principles of laws; markets must be run by the local councils themselves and the remove political parties out of that system.”

He warned that unless leaders ceased from reverting to hostile rhetoric, signing peace treaties would be a waste of time.

“So, the message here and what I mean is that, even if you have people from different political parties signing those issues [peace treaties], and then leaders continue with their hostile rhetoric and non-adherence to political values, it’s not going to work! It’s all efforts in futility. Maybe, they are trying to deceive Zambians that they are now non-violent. People must be told that in an environment of political pluralism, it is not an offence for people to have different political opinions. In fact, it must be cherished and encouraged because that is the bloodline of democracy. People must have different and divergent political views, and they should not be penalized or victimized like we see in Zambia today. And if [in our] discussion (political discourse), we do not have situations where leaders are preaching peace, where leaders are able to encourage that people must stick to the rule of law, if that doesn’t happen, then we are bound to see violent behaviours in the country for a long period to come. It is not enough to just say, ‘look we are signing an agreement and this will make the end of lawlessness.’ That will not do unless the basic principles of democracy are followed to the core. Then we can say we are moving on the right track. But without that, the country will continue to remain on tenterhooks,” cautioned Mpombo.