Zambians must desist from using reports of suspected ritual killers to loot and damage private and public property, says the Southern African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (SACCORD).

And SACCORD has advised the PF in Eastern Province to curb the culture of violence within the party saying it has potential to cause polarization.

In an interview, SACCORD executive director Boniface Chembe urged people in the affected areas where sporadic riots had erupted in protest against suspected ritual killings not to take advantage of the confusion to engage in acts of mass criminality.

“As SACCORD, we believe that it is important that citizens of the Republic of Zambia do not take advantage of this suspected ritual killing and begin to engage in acts of mass criminality, not only of damaging public property, but also, looting property not belonging to them as an excuse or as a scapegoat of ritual killings. In fact, if there are suspicions or a suspect you believe are engaging in such, it’s better you report such actions and individuals. It is paramount that citizens of this country don’t take the law into their own hands because this now leads to the breakdown of law and order. And clearly, when that is the case, the law enforcement agencies will always move in and arrest such individuals,” Chembe said.

“But as SACCORD, we would want to appeal, reports of what transpired in Choma are regrettable and unfortunate and we want to urge all citizens to desist from engaging in such acts because Zambia is the land of the rule of law and when you damage property of suspected ritual killers, clearly, that is a great disservice to the community members and, of course, the country. So we want to appeal to the people of Choma that just in case you have got any suspicion, do not think and believe that engaging in the damage to property is the way to go. Please desist from doing so at all costs and ensure that instead of you taking the law into your own hands, you notify the law enforcement agencies so that appropriate help can be brought about.”

And in a statement, Wednesday, Cheembe condemned the reported political violence involving the PF Eastern Province Information and Publicity Secretary and other members of the party that transpired in Petauke District following the burial of chief Nyampande.

“The PF in Eastern Province have been confronted with several challenges of political violence, which has involved both physical violence and violent communication for some time. If this culture is left unchecked in the province, it will consume the ruling party as it will likely lead to polarization of the party without any unity and stability. This would be the case with any other political party in the country if acts of political violence can be the order of the day without any restraint. The ruling party, especially at national-level, have shown that they have the pedigree to utilize laid down procedure for addressing grievances of party members peacefully without having to resort to political violence. The political violence that appears to confront the provincial leadership in Eastern Province needs to be addressed as there is need to ensure that there is respect to tolerance to divergent views within the party,” said Chembe.

“We take note and welcome the position by the provincial party chairperson that he does not condone violence, and this is how it should be. We appeal to the Eastern Province provincial leadership to seriously reflect on the need to embrace non-violent and peaceful means of addressing individuals with divergent views and, thereby, guarantee that tolerance prevails. The approach of beating individuals wherever disagreements emerge will only lead to the party breeding disunity in the province and, thereby, undermining the importance of democratic governance that requires tolerance to divergent views as a prerequisite for peace. We further appeal to the ruling PF national leadership, through the Office of the Secretary General and the President, to build the capacity of the Eastern Province leadership on using peaceful party laid-down procedure to resolve any differences that may emerge in the province. Violence only breeds violence and if this is allowed as the method to resolve differences, the political violence will only erode the confidence of stakeholders and the citizens in the province.”