HOME Affairs Minister Stephen Kampyongo has called on political parties to engage in politics of ideas as August 12 approaches, urging them to avoid preaching violence.

He was speaking in response to a question from Roan NDC member of parliament Joseph Chishala who wanted to find out how many cases of assault and malicious damage to property were reported to the police during the by-election in Roan Parliamentary Constituency in April, 2019; how many people were arrested for assault and causing damage to property; how many people have since been convicted; and if no arrests were made, why.

“There were 11 reported cases of assault and six cases of malicious damage to property during a by-election in Roan parliamentary constituency in April 2019. One person was arrested for assault and two persons were arrested for malicious damage to property. No convictions have been made as the cases are still before the courts of law,” Kampyongo said in response to the principal question.

And responding to a follow up question from Kanchibiya PF member of parliament Dr Martin Malama who asked if the Ministry was able to establish who brought the violence to the area, Kampyongo said parties should avoid ferrying cadres from other places to areas where by-elections are taking place.

“Indeed, the people of Roan in Luanshya are peace loving people and indeed they are supportive of their government. We have been preaching Mr Speaker, to our people to avoid ferrying cadres from other areas into areas where by elections are taking place because the people in those constituencies such as Roan for example, know each other and they wouldn’t want to fight because at the end of the day the by election passed and they have still remained as one people of Roan and they co-exist, they know each other so even in diversity they are able to live in harmony. So to some extent, that violence was caused by people that came out of Luanshya and got into Roan for various reasons and as you know there were also silent pacts of parties and some of the parties who were in pacts, some parties are very well known for these violent activities,” he said.

“…So, we would like to see an environment where people can contest ideas, if it’s debate, let’s engage in debate and let’s get our people to understand who means well for them. That’s how it should be. I don’t think people would want to vote for a person who only talks about bloodshed, for a person who only talks about Armageddon, they don’t like Armageddon. We look after people that have run away from countries Mr Speaker, under my ministry as refugees, as people of concern, uprooted from places they were calling homes to come here to look for sanctuary. We wouldn’t want our people of Zambia to run anywhere because this is their heritage…there is only one home called Zambia. So it’s important that even all of us who are in political leadership, August is very near and we all have to go back to our people and peacefully engage them. It shouldn’t take physical oppression of our people in terms of sending messages.”

Kampyongo said the police were being encouraged to treat all citizens fairly and be professional in their conduct.

“Sir, what we are doing is to encourage the police to treat their citizens equally. As we say, no one is above the law and so the Zambian people are being assured that police enforcing the law, especially in dealing with those who engage in lawlessness, violence, political or any other lawlessness activity, they must be impartial, professional and save their people without fear or favour because every citizen is equal to the same laws that are prescribed. Mr Speaker, I thank you,” he said.

Meanwhile, in response to Lukashya PF member of parliament George Chisanga who wanted to find out if it had been considered to utilise the Electoral Commission of Zambia code of conduct in resolving issues arising from elections, Kampyongo said ECZ should be supported in putting in place mechanisms to allow them act in real time when dealing with perpetrators of electoral malpractices.

“Sir, the Electoral Commission of Zambia are working with other stakeholders, are working on trying to strengthen conflict resolution mechanisms during election activities and so they are doing everything possible, I know that they are revising the act and also revising the code of conduct and we all must support the Electoral Commission of Zambia and ensure that they put mechanisms which will allow them to act in real time and punish perpetrators of malpractices in the electoral processes. It is incumbent upon all of us to render the maximum support to the electoral commission of Zambia as our referee institution and so it’s our sincere hope that the conflict resolution mechanisms that will be put in place by the ECZ, supported by the Zambia Police Service, we are going to see a conducive environment for all of us to participate in the electoral processes and allow our people of Zambia to make independent free decisions on who they wish to government them, starting from the President, going to the MPs and the lower positions of councillors and others,” said Kampyongo.

“So we are hoping Mr Speaker, that we will play an active role in supporting the electoral commission of Zambia to achieve a successful electoral process. They have shown already that they are equal to the task because when everybody doubted that they were going to conduct the voter registration using the new voter register in the advent of COVID-19, they have proven those who were armchair critics wrong and those who supported them, we will continue to support them, still have got confidence that they are equal to the task in terms of ensuring that the people of Zambia participate in the elections without violence and that those little conflicts that will emerge are dealt with in real time.”