Political violence worries Catholics



THE Catholic Church says it is gravely saddened by the increasing number of cases of politically motivated violence in the run-up to the August 11th general elections and has blamed the senior leadership of political parties for the escalation of the vice.

The Church said democracy required that citizens exercised their rights to vote in a free and peaceful environment and warned that while Zambia proudly claimed of being a peaceful nation, the record of the country being peaceful was being threatened by the increasing incidences of politically motivated violence. In a pastoral letter themed: ‘No longer will violence be heard in your land’ the Catholic Church has called on Christians not to vote for political leaders with a narrow sectarian or ethnic interest before national interest and common good. The pastoral letter said the continued tension between members of various political parties was another contributing factor to the danger of the country losing its status of being a peaceful nation.

“We have often noted that the free will of the people is the hallmark of any credible election. We must therefore pay particular attention to key aspects that can enhance or reduce and even negate the credibility of the forthcoming general elections. We have noticed that senior leaders of political parties themselves are the ones to blame for the violence because they know who is perpetrating the vice,” reads the letter.

The Catholic Church said finger-pointing and the blame game was not solving the problem of violence but was instead making the vice escalate. On the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ), the Catholic Church advised that the Commission should never be seen to be an institution that was being manipulated to suit the interests of one group or political party.

“The legitimacy of the ECZ will depend on how much the Commission is seen to be independent in the eyes of the public,” the Church said.

Meanwhile, Christians and Zambians at large have been warned against voting for political leaders who are arrogant with a propensity to use violence, people with questionable moral standing or those with a proven record of corruption and abuse of power and public resources.

The Church has further advised Zambians to seriously scrutinise all political leaders aspiring to take up the governance of the country and elect a leader who is God-fearing, and one whose desire is to work for the common good instead of self-enrichment and use the disposition of power for service especially for poor and under-privileged.

The Catholic Church said professional competence on political, economic and social programmes and courage to speak on the truth were but among the qualities Zambians should consider when voting for leaders into political office.