THE Human Rights Commission says President Edgar Lungu’s admissive remarks that political violence is perpetrated mainly by governing PF and UPND supporters is commendable.
On Saturday, President Lungu said the ruling PF and the UPND were the major culprits of election violence.
Speaking at Lusaka’ City Airport shortly before departure for Mongu where he is inspecting ‘developmental projects,’ President Lungu advised the PF and the UPND to draw lessons from the just-ended Chilanga parliamentary by-election where even journalists from the private media were caught up in violence.
In a press statement yesterday, Human Rights Commission (HRC) spokesperson Mweelwa Muleya observed that the President’s remarks could help in finding a long-lasting solution to Zambia’s political violence scenario.
“The Human Rights Commission wishes to commend President Edgar Lungu for publicly stating that the Patriotic Front and the United Party for National Development cadres are the major perpetrators of violence. That must be commendable because the admission of a problem is the beginning of finding a lasting solution, more so a peaceful resolution of conflict,” Muleya stated.
He added that the HRC, going forward, expected President Lungu and UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema to instruct their respective party supporters to immediately stop the use of threatening violence, abusive language and any language that incites violence or hatred in society because “that is against the public order Act.”
Muleya also stated that the public order Act must strictly be respected and that political party cadres ought to be instructed against arming themselves with offensive weapons.
“They should conduct themselves in [an] orderly and lawful manner so that we can respect the rights, freedoms and reputation of other political players in the field. In short, we are saying that the provisions of the public order Act are adequate and must be protected to ensure that this political violence is eliminated from political competition,” stated Muleya.
“Political competition is a democratic norm and it should not result in injuries, loss of property or life and the responsibility lies squarely on political leaders to cage their supporters so that this country can, once again, recover from the political hostilities that are undermining the rights and freedoms of many Zambians who are looking forward to exercise their democratic right in the country.”