PF Must Do More to Stop Political Violence, Says Fr Bwalya
The following press statement was distributed by Alliance for Better Zambia (ABZ):
The key to stop electoral violence in Zambia has always been in the hands of the ruling party. This has been the case from the time we reverted to multiparty democracy.
Our party is convinced that if the ruling party, the Patriotic Front (PF) in this case, chooses the path of clean campaigns and avoids electoral malpractices including abuse of state resources, peace would characterize our elections. This will enhance democracy and good governance in our country.
The opposition in Zambia lacks resources to mobilize people to engage in violence on large scale. Moreover, the Police Service has demonstrated capacity to deal firmly with the opposition and hence deter perpetration of violence by the opposition.
Unfortunately, the Police Service has usually failed to arrest violent cadres and their sponsors from the ruling party. Hence violent cadres and common criminals sponsored by the ruling party cause havoc under the banner of “Boma ni Boma”. On rare occasions when such criminals are arrested senior government officials phone the police to give instructions for their release.
What we have also seen over the years is that violent cadres from the ruling party instigate violence as they provoke the opposition with impunity. In some cases this happens right under the nose of armed police officers. On the other hand some opposition parties try to use force to stop abuse of public resources such as government vehicles. Such attempts have led to violent clashes. This again is an example of failure by relevant state institutions including the toothless Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) to do their job.
Against this background, we are passionately calling upon the PF top leaders to show leadership and take the simple steps needed to end electoral violence. These steps include accepting that in a democracy such as ours a political party should use civil means to win votes and upholding the rule of law as the only guarantee for justice and peace.
We challenge the PF to lead the way in conducting peaceful campaigns and respecting the democratic choices of our people. Voters should never be made to pay with their blood for supporting the opposition.
Finally, we make a similar appeal to opposition political parties to exercise maximum restraint. We should not allow ourselves to participate in sacrificing peace on the altar of political expedience and narrow partisan interest.
Let us all pledge to use the occasion of our Independence Golden Jubilee to end primitive politics characterized by violence and all kinds of political immorality.
Fr. Frank Bwalya
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