Political violence; Blame Police-VJ

The increased political violence which the country has been experiencing reflects the failure by the police to discharge their duties professionally, says veteran politician Vernon Mwaanga.

Dr Mwaanga said for institutions such as the police trust was an essential ingredient of their relationship with the people.

He said once the trust of the people was eroded or compromised, declaration of violence was implemented during by-elections.

Dr Mwaanga was speaking at the Southern Africa Centre for Constructive Resolution of Dispute (SACCORD) and Zambia Centre for Inter-Party Dialogue (ZCID) in Partnership with Friendrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) political party summit in Lusaka.

“So, political violence in many ways reflects the failure of the police, a breakdown of trust between the police and the policed. For institutions such as the public, trust is an essential ingredient of their relationship with the public,” he said.

“Rather than simply condemning violence when and wherever it rears its ugly head, we need to understand it as a process, and to be proactive and respond to a number of critical questions.”

Among the party that attended were Patriotic Front (PF), MMD, UPND, Zambia Direct Democracy (ZDDM), Zambia Development Conference (ZADECO), All People’s Congress (APC) and Alliance for Better Zambia.

Other are National Restoration Party (NAREP), UNIP, United Liberal Party (ULP) and Forum for Democratic Alternative (FDA).

He said because of the unprofessional conduct of the police, it was not uncommon in Zambia to hear political party’s and their membership declare that they would protect themselves if they attacked.

Dr Mwaanga said moral justification for the use of political violence was rooted in the weaknesses of formal political institution, particularly the partisanship within which police service was viewed by the public.

He said people and stakeholders on many occasion have condemned political violence and criticized the police responses to acts of violence but their concerns have gone unheeded to.

He said people should not allow political cadres and supporters become hostages of political violence which injures and disturbs lives of innocent citizens.

“Although we publicly abhor violence, we are in effect slowly becoming a violent society. It seems to be the case that violence is in our social DNA,” Dr Mwaanga said.

And SACCORD board chairperson Christine Munalula said the scourge of political violence has been going on for a number of years and the country has not been proactive to create platform where all stakeholders could discuss the matter.

“Therefore, this summit and the theme will provide a platform for the political violence scourge to be discussed extensively and solutions to this scourge to be brainstormed,” she said.

Ms Munalula said SACCORD was happy to engage stakeholders in the process of attempting to find solutions to the challenge of political violence. She said the scourge of political violence has almost become part and parcel of Zambian culture and has led to untold suffering to victims. And FES resident director Helmut Elischer said people were worried that acts of political violence were undermining the development of the country.

And University of Zambia (UNZA) lecturer Winston Mafuleka said the opposition should continue to be vigilante and providing checks and balances to the party in government.