Christian Churches Monitoring Group (CCMG) chairperson Fr Cleophas Lungu says the never-ending tension between the UPND and PF has worsened the suffering of many ordinary Zambians, as they have advanced from the use of stones, to pangas and now guns.
Commenting on the recent violence in Kaoma where one person was shot dead, Fr Lungu observed that the use of guns among political cadres had rendered the police helpless.
“The never-ending tension between the UPND and PF has affected many ordinary citizens in the country. Remember the deadly incidents in Luangwa, Livingstone, Sesheke, Chibulo Mapenzi in Lusaka, Luanshya, Kanyama and now in Kaoma? How many more lives should be lost before enough becomes enough? We make this call again as we did on July 17, 2016 that political party leaders should go beyond just condemning political violence because the condemnatory voices have not been strong enough to change the behaviour of the cadres. Now, we are looking for concrete actions and measures by the Head of State, his IG of Police and all those given the task to protect the rights of all Zambians,” Fr Lungu stated in a press release.
He stated that it was shocking how the perpetrators of violence since the disputed 2016 general election had still not been brought to book.
“Today, a life has been lost, a family is grieving. But as usual, those who are given the task to protect human life and property continue acting as if all is normal. They are never moved and actually in most cases, they simply massage the situation. Politicians, hear our call for justice, peace and reconciliation. The violence that is politically instigated we witnessed in 2016 and 2017 continues up to today, especially where there are by-elections. What is shocking to us is that in all these events, no one has been brought to book for perpetuating this violence. We have also observed with sadness that the means of violence by the political cadres have since advanced. They began with stones, then went to pangas and now some of them are easily able to access and acquire for themselves military and police weapons, such as tear gas canisters, pistols, rifles and other offensive weapons. No one is taking any steps to stop this. The militarisation of political cadres can easily usurp the work of the police and the same guns can easily turn against those who supply them in a situation where open violent conflict breaks out,” Fr Lungu warned.
He observed that the root cause of violence was mainly the failure to tolerate and respect divergent views and opinions.
“The Church in Zambia is convinced that the failure to promote and protect fundamental human rights and freedoms, lack of a democratic culture of tolerance and respect for divergent views and opinions is the root cause of political and electoral violence. Working in a context where respect for human rights and people’s freedoms is limited requires consented effort by all stakeholders to show the benefits of creating a culture of democracy where human rights are respected, promoted and defended. If we want genuine peace, we should all fight for Justice,” he added.
And Fr Lungu appealed to the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) to disqualify any political party that perpetuates political and electoral violence regardless of who they were.
“We further make this call again to the ECZ to take decisive action and disqualify any political party that perpetuates political and electoral violence regardless of who they are. There must be no sacred cow! We always find it difficult to understand the perpetual lukewarm position the ECZ usually takes with regards the electoral violence, especially when it involves the ruling party. We know that the ECZ has power, provided for in the Electoral Process Act of 2016 to firmly deal with such matters. Why are these powers not used?” wondered Fr Lungu.