Police a big letdown, says Chanda

It is shocking that only one suspected PF cadre has been arrested by police in connection with an attack on UPND president Hakainde Hichilema in Ndola last week, says Open Society Foundation executive director Sunday Chanda.

Mr. Chanda said that it was sad that institutions entrusted with the responsibility to maintain peace and order were the ones who appeared to be promoting violence by failing to act upon perpetrators.

“We wonder why the police could not effect arrest of panga and gun-wielding cadres but would rather hide behind investigations. We refuse to believe the Zambia Police has become an accomplice to violence.

“We know there are good men and women in the police but the institution must publicly redeem its image. It is  a natural instinct for victims of violence to seek revenge but as Mahatma Gandhi once observed “an eye for an eye makes the world go blind”. The culture of violence must be uprooted from our politics,” said Mr. Chanda.

He said that political violence if not stopped now had the capacity to breed civil strife in the country.

“In light of the reported violence on the Copperbelt targeted at UPND president Hakainde Hichilema, we would want to make a clarion call to all political players to commit themselves to politics of non-violence on the premise that violence begets violence.

“Today it is against HH, tomorrow it will be another one and this vicious cycle of violence must be denounced by political heads in the opposition and those in government,” said Mr. Chanda..

Mr. Chanda said that there should be no room for violence in Zambia, adding that the picture PF cadres were building added no value to the governance of the country.

“There must be no room for shedding of blood for political expediency because the freedom was already won 50 years ago. This is a season for tolerance and mature politics. At 50, Zambia is a matured state and must discard politics of the dark ages where one brother seeks to suffocate the other,” he said.

Mr. Chanda said that it was therefore, important that the police acted upon the perpetrators of violent rather than just watching the situation degenerate into a crisis or wait for political instructions.

“Political parties will do well to internalize non-violence, it is our fundamental right to co-exist and express ourselves for as long as we do so under the ambit of the law

“Violence perpetrated by the ruling party PF and violence by the opposition is still unacceptable. We are also calling on the police to return to professionalism unlike the selective application of the law that we are seeing today,” said Mr. Chanda.

He observed that the levels of intolerance in the country had become unbelievably high, adding that the continued machinations and schemes aimed at creating a by-election in Kasama Central by expelling area member of parliament Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba (GBM) would be more violent than any other by-election the country had ever witnessed.