FODEP executive director Chimfwembe Mwenge says barring a leader of a big opposition political party from contesting a general election can be a recipe for anarchy in the country.
And Mwenge has advised PF to learn from former Republican President Rupiah Banda on how democratic he was during his tenure as Head of State.
In an interview, Thursday, Mwenge cautioned that the ruling party should not do anything that would bar the UPND presidential candidate from taking part in this year’s general elections.
“Our reflection is that, that would be a recipe for anarchy. Because when you look at the UPND to be a very large party and they are very popular actually, including in perceived PF strongholds. When we analyse the popularity of UPND and PF it’s almost equally divided, especially judging from the results of the last elections. The PF must not do anything that will bar the UPND presidential candidate from taking part in this year’s elections. They would also want to taste the patience of our Zambians, they could do so but I think this is something that Honourable Kampyongo and the police command cannot contend and people in power should not even think of going in that direction,” he said.
“I think what is important is for the PF to learn from RB. RB was a true democrat and he believed in the principles of multipartism. If you remember, RB allowed the late PF leader, the founder president Sata, may his soul rest in peace. If you remember Sata immediately after losing, he launched his campaign in Kanyama and he was allowed to carry out political mobilisation freely without any restraint. Everyone started bringing him on board and this was done without interference from State police and probably even without a police permit. At some point if you remember, there was a time I think in North-Western Province when Sata intefered with RB’s motorcade. What we saw out there was just a friendly meeting and shared jokes between themselves. But when you compare with the Mongu incidence, the opposition leader ended up being incarcerated, something which is not good for our democracy.”
Mwenge said there was need for political leaders to tolerate divergent views from the opposition and learn to coexist as a multiparty State.
He added that lack of co-existence between the leaders of two major political parties in the country was contributing to the current political tension.
“I think the lack of co-existence between the two is contributing because they see each other as enemies and they don’t want to meet. Previously we have even called for a peace summit ahead of the August 12 election and if they could be convened by the ECZ. I think there are neutral bodies which can call for this summit. This summit could be moderated by a distinguished personality, maybe a former leader within the SADC or African Union so that they can bring Zambians together. We think that politicians should tolerate other views by the opposition and other stakeholders. Look, we need to coexist. This is the meaning of multipartism. We are in a multipartism dispensation and this means citizens can stand up feeling proud and free that they have fundamental rights which they need to enjoy,” Mwange said.
He further said there was a possibility that the country was going to experience electoral violence ahead of this year’s polls as a number of electoral issues remained to be addressed.
“For instance how are electoral campaigns going to be conducted? Because we foresee violence, we foresee the police clamping down on the opposition and denying them in the name of COVID-19 measures but when it comes to others, look at that launch of the manifesto. That was a crowd that they should have controlled. Also what was the purpose of calling everybody from all over to come and launch a manifesto? Which for us does not simply anything because the PF just needs to point out what they have done, they don’t even need a manifesto. I think a manifesto should be for Harry Kalaba and these other parties not the PF,” said Mwenge.