The Commission of Inquiry into the Voting Patterns and Electoral Violence says it heard how PF members in Namwala District of Southern Province were attacked following their celebrations of President Edgar Lungu’s 2016 election victory.

And the Commission observed that the denial and cancellation of airspace permissions at the last minute by the Zambia Air Force (ZAF) may have affected the voting patterns and contributed to electoral violence.

Meanwhile, the Commission also revealed that former MMD national secretary Major Richard Kachingwe also made submissions to the effect that one of the sources of violence in Zambia is armed political party cadres.

“In Namwala District, many petitioners submitted that the local people were using hate speech against PF supporters and those bearing names from north-eastern region. They referred to them as Umulumbu meaning an ‘outcast,’ a person who does not hail from that particular place and asked them to go back where they came from. In Namwala District, petitioners submitted that PF members were attacked, following their celebration of President Lungu‘s election victory in August, 2016. The petitioners submitted that the PF supporters mocked UPND members during their celebrations, and this annoyed the UPND supporters who were in the majority in the area,” the Report read.

The Commission added that other petitioners in Mazabuka submitted that some political parties, traditional leaders and church groupings tolerated hate speech and divisions of people across ethnic groups.

“The Commission observes that most politicians use hate speech based on regional, ethnic and tribal origins to alienate the voters from supporting their opponents. However, the Commission notes that the general public abhors this kind of conduct. The Commission further observes that hate speech and vulgar language causes resentment among cadres, which leads to political violence. The Commission notes that political parties across the board have done little to stem the use of hate speech and vulgar language during election campaigns in contravention of Regulation 15 (a) of the Code of Conduct,” the report read.

In its findings, the Commission stated that both the public and private media contributed to the peddling of hate speech and that unscrupulous citizens were using social media to defame, malign, insult and incite hatred, violence, ethnic and regional divisions in the country.

It also noted that the denial and cancellation of air spaces by ZAF could have affected the voting patterns and contributed to electoral violence.

“On ZAF, the Commission observes that it had an important role in regulating the airspace during the election campaign period. In the discharge of this function, the Commission observes that there were instances when the applications for permission to use the airspace from the opposition political parties were denied or cancelled at last minute. Such disruptions to campaign programmes may have affected the voting patterns and contributed to electoral violence,” it observed.

The Commission added that high youth unemployment and poverty made them vulnerable to be hired by unscupulous political players for all manner of mischief, even when they had no real commitment to their parties.

“The Commission further observes that in many instances, high unemployment and poverty amongst the youth makes them vulnerable to be hired for all manner of mischief and they have no real commitment to their parties. The Commission observes that what exists between political parties and youth is a transactional relationship. The Commission notes that this is the reason why the youth can shift allegiance to any political party that comes in power and attack the same people who initiated them into the culture of violence,” it narrated.

And the Commission stated that it received a submission from Major Kachingwe, that arming cadres with guns was the main cause of political violence in the country.

“In Lusaka District, a former MMD government official, Major Richard Kachingwe, submitted that one of the sources of violence in Zambia is armed political party cadres. Major Kachingwe submitted that, at Kulima Tower Bus Station, there used to be cadres who were given guns and ammunition. He said that, ‘when president Mwanawasa came into power, we had to disarm them, because they had caused a lot of riotous behaviour in Chawama. Now, you go, you will find cadres are armed, where they get those guns and ammunition, we don’t know, with pistols and yet pistols were very difficult to get, I don’t think even these guns, which they are moving with are even licensed, we are at crossroads,” revealed the Commission.