Sesheke violence worrisome – FODEP

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Foundation for Democratic Process (FODEP) executive director Mwenge Chimfwembe says the 2021
general elections will be bloody and chaotic if political violence is not curtailed.

In an interview, Chimfwembe said the political violence in Sesheke was an indictment on government as it had the responsibility to ensure that people were protected from any form of harm.

“We fear that if this is the manner we shall continue doing our politics, 2021 may not be something to watch. If political players themselves are carrying elections as a matter of life and death, then it will be bloody, it will be chaotic. If we are to use the Sesheke by-election as a litmus paper for what would happen in 2021, then we can be worried, because what’s happening in that area is not something desirable in the 21st century. But of course we know that a general eletion has go its own different dynamics, but all we are saying is that political violence as the one being witnessed in Sesheke, has actually taken away from the electoral integrity of that election. The running battles, the shootings here
and there, the retaliations from people, people shifting blames, death, that’s not the way to go. There is something that must be done and it must be done now!” Chimfwembe said.

“Basically, the happenings in Sesheke are quite disappointing. That by election has been perceived to be a matter of life and death which ordinarily it is not. At the end of the day, it is the people of Sesheke who should make the decision as to who should represent them in Parliament. Much as political parties are vehicles for doing that, the violence, counter exchanging of blame has been very disappointment and is an indictment on the state because the state has got a mandate to ensure that the people are protected, and that they choose leaders of their own choice without intimidation, coercion or any element that take away integrity from the electoral process.”

Chimfwembe said people wanted politics of ideas as opposed to the outdated kind of politics being practiced.

“The kind of politics that we are practicing right now are not the way politics of the 21 st century should be done. One would look to the days when the Kaundas used to run battles with the colonialists that was the kind of politics at that time. The kind of politics we anticipate now are politics of ideas, exchanging ideas on how we intend to improve the welfare of our people. There is nothing wrong with political parties differing in terms of their ideas, but resorting to physical violence is unprogressive,” Chimfwembe said.

“To us it is indicative of a number of things, but primarily we think that our political democracy has not grown and this is happening at a time when we have recognised multi political parties in our constitution. If you look into article 60, it is very clear in terms of the character of a political party and the importance it occupies in the lives of the people. It brings out what should be done and what should not be done by political parties. Therefor for us we cannot basically allow the situation to continue in the manner it is.”

And Chimfwembe said the Political Parties Bill would help tame political parties once it was
passed.

“We have a law, the political parties’ bill, although it has not yet been agreed upon. But we feel that it’s important that the state moves in quickly in ensuring that we have a political party commission that can bring civility in the way politics are done going by the installation of article 60 of Republican Constitution. We feel that the political party commission would be able to deal with the day to day performance of the political parties, within the light of article 60. Because we realise that the Electoral Commission of Zambia may not be up to date in terms of operationalising article 60. He also said the national dialogue should be supported as it would help in easing the political tension being experienced at the moment,” said Chimfwembe.

         

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