Violence in Mpongwe

It is clear from all accounts that violence in Mpongwe has escalated and the opposition are holding the ruling patriotic front responsible.

Yesterday a Narep representative narrated how members returning from a campaign meeting were waylaid and beaten by PF cadres who accused them of supporting the wrong party.

It is however not just the gratuitous violence in the area but also the manner in which the Zambia police service is reacting which is a matter of serious concern.

Time and again repots of violence perpetrated by ruling party cadres have been reported including culprits being taken for taking down opposition posters and little if anything has been done it..

There is no need to remind the police that theirs is a difficult but very essential role to provide security to all citizens regardless of their political affiliation.  Indeed the police should serve with such integrity and professionalism to inspire the confidence of all the people from the main political parties.

However, from what we hear the situation on the ground is increasingly becoming chaotic with vote buying and outright intimidation the norm.  We know that huge resources have been expended in the by-elections, and those with deeper pockets obviously benefitting from incumbency, have been able to influence the manner in which the campaign should be conducted.

Our appeal however, is that these expensive by-elections which are in reality a true waste of public resources should be treated with the disdain they deserve, but more importantly that the people in the constituency must show their own objection to the fact that while money is found to hold by elections there is no money to provide desks and benches in school, medicine in health centres and indeed a functional public delivery system that ensures that the needs of all the people are catered for.

What we have seen so far are Ministers and other senior officials making a presence with promises of development to follow if the people vote in the PF candidate. These by-elections are normally bereft of substance and are a mere appeal to the emotions. As a result violence is always at the surface because the electorate are not discussing substance but rather the character of their party presidents.

It is not too late for political parties to engage each other more positively with a clear spirit that elections are but a periodic event whereas community co-existence is a long lasting social reality that must be nurtured sustained and enriched in order to create a community synergy that works towards development.

The divisive politics which sometimes border on tribalism are not helping in developing a national consciousness, but are instead entrenching division which ultimately results in violence.

Our earnest appeal is to the ruling party to control cadres and ensure that police act professionally to stop violence, by acting firmly and decisively on all perpetrators regardless of the political affiliation.

In the long run we should realize as a people that our destiny is more intertwined than what passes for party schism and affiliation.

Since independence in 1964 parties have come and gone but the people have remained.  They are certain individuals like Mr. Daniel Munkombwe who takes every opportunity to join the ruling party.  These are veterans who have little regard for principled politics.  They would rather shift with the prevailing fortunes.

Politics must be much more than this.