PRINCE Akashambatwa Mbikusita Lewanika has likened Zambia’s democratic dispensation to that of Uganda, saying violence and political intimidation are a common feature in both countries.
In an interview, Akashambatwa said violence in Zambian politics had a long history and there was need to look at the root cause to ensure it was dealt with.
“We can’t avoid it (violence), we are in it already. We have been in it from the beginning. It is not something that has been happening now, it has happened from the beginning. Violence in Zambian politics has a long history and we usually forget it. We take people who introduced violence and tribalism in our politics as our heros. So we are exactly in the same position as Uganda. This cancer started from the same beginning. If you look at Uganda’s election leading to independence, it was fundamentally dishonest,” Akashambatwa said.
“So it is the same with Zambia. The violence that took place between UNIP and the African National Congress during the early election is a cancer, we have not addressed. It is cancer that every now and then materializes into open violence, but it is there from the very beginning. But we have been brain washed to think that violence we are seeing today is a new thing and because we are not addressing the root cause and the history of this violence, we cannot treat it.”
Akashambatwa said it was unfortunate that most of the voices that spoke against violence were disregarded.
“So really, we don’t even have to say how do we avoid going into a Uganda situation, we are already in a Uganda situation. Violence is in the DNA of the Zambians from the very beginning. The voices that have spoken on violence in politics have always been disregarded. Every now and then it can manifest in mild violence or it may manifest itself in gross violence. Even the way our party slogans, they need to be examined because they are pregnant with violence,” said Akashambatwa.
“You see when some say ‘boma boma’ it is not a peaceful statement. The language we use is pregnant with violence. The outfits our youths have in these political parties, the dress ready for battle. So we have to demilitarize the mentality, we have to demilitarize the dress code, we have to demilitarize the language. Even the ideas that some political parties are called opposition rather than another party with alternative ideas. If you perceive politics as being based between opposition parties, that is what introduces the idea that the parties are enemies, not participants in one system.”
The recent Uganda elections saw Uganda long-time President Yoweri Museveni re-elected, beating his closest rival Bobi Wine in an election which was marred by political intimidation, violence and the banning of the internet.