The United States has condemned the political violence Zambia has been experiencing in the last few months and has called for the immediate arrest of all perpetrators of violence irrespective of their political affiliation to prevent them from hijacking democracy.
United States of America Charge d’Affairs David Young said the recent spread of violence was worrying and appealed to political party leaders to clearly direct their supporters to refrain from engaging in political violence.
Mr Young cited the attack on United Party for National Development (UPND) president Hakainde Hichilema and Alliance for Better Zambia (ABZ) president Frank Bwalya on the Copperbelt where the former was forced to escape lynching through the roof of Sun FM radio station in Ndola while the later was poured with Chibuku Shake-Shake beer at Flava FM radio in Kitwe.
Mr Young said the harassment of the two opposition leaders by political cadres was unacceptable and that perpetrators should be brought to justice without delay.
He said it was clear that the attacks on Mr Hichilema and Fr Bwalya were perpetrated by political party cadres advising that there was need for mature leadership at all levels of society.
Mr Young said there was need for the political leadership to exhibit leadership both by the police and religious leaders to ensure that the violent trend the country has been experiencing could be brought to halt before degenerating into a cycle of violent attacks.
He explained that the police had a sacred trust from the public to help guarantee safety and prevent cadres from attacking their political opponents adding that this did not mean shutting down political rallies.
“The recent spread of political violence is very worrying. The attacks by political cadres on UPND president Hakainde Hichilema and ABZ president Fr Frank Bwalya in the Copperbelt Province are unacceptable and the perpetrators should brought to justice without delay. Police have a sacred trust from the public to help guarantee safety and prevent cadres from attacking their political opponents. This does not mean shutting down political rallies but it means supporting healthy debate and preventing violent groups from hijacking democracy,” Mr Young said.
Mr Young said he was impressed with the spirit of reconciliation during the Ester Holiday in April where President Michael Sata freely interacted with first republican president Kenneth Kaunda and his immediate predecessor Rupiah Banda as well as leaders of the opposition political party leaders on Good Friday.
“I was impressed to see the President, former presidents and opposition leaders joining together and then to hear the voices of political leaders and the church calling for the spirit of reconciliation in Zambia,” Mr Young said.