ANDREW Banda has appealed to former president Rupiah Banda to step in and help bring President Edgar Lungu and his main rival UPND’s Hakainde Hichilema together to end political violence in the country.
Commenting on the violence that characterised the Sesheke parliamentary by-election last week, Banda, a former high commissioner to India, warned that the political violence experienced in Sesheke was just a beginning of more troubles to come in 2021.
“Political violence must be stopped in one way or another…I am flabbergasted with what is going on. This violence has to be stopped in on one way or another; there must be a way to stop this. War just starts like this. What happened in Sesheke was really very serious and somebody must take responsibility. I am appealing to all senior citizens still alive to come in…what happened in Sesheke is not good for this country, not at all, and this is just a beginning of more troubles to come. Just imagine as we go to 2021, what will happen?” he asked.
“There was obviously serious violence there as with the case where the police beat up suspected PF cadres, somebody must try and find out who sponsored those boys to go to Sesheke, check into a lodge, had so much offensive weapons for a period of a month; who transported them from Lusaka to Sesheke? Somebody must take reasonability, including the shoot-out, which the government says no live ammunition was used
when there is evidence.”
He said in Ludanzi, a government vehicle, donated by the US government, was shot at by a known officer.
Banda appealed to senior citizens such as Sikota Wina, Vernon Mwaanga, Dr Kenneth Kaunda, including his father, Rupiah Banda, to help resolve the violence issue.
He said president Banda had helped conflicting parties in Sierra Leone reach peaceful settlement, including in Kenya where he helped bring together rivals Raila Odinga and President Uhuru Kenyatta.
“Right now he is on observer mission in Nigeria. I am appealing to the fourth Republican president, I know very well that he brought Uhuru and Odinga together. I know that he went to the Great Lakes region. I know that he had done all these things in other parts of Africa, we appeal to him, he is the only one [who can strongly step in] because Dr Kaunda is actually very old now. Dr Kaunda played his role in South Africa, he played his role in Zimbabwe. So even him, he is still alive, we must appeal to him that please, please, let’s not wait until the situation gets worse,” Banda said. “The issue with things like that is that people will turn around and judge them harshly, I am not saying that is what will happen but they will say but they were there, why didn’t they stop it?”
Banda, a member of the UPND, said President Edgar and Hichilema were a phone call away from president Banda.
He said it was sad that the UPND leader was prepared to dialogue while others were not.
“Out there, people are not happy with what is happening. Zambians do not need spillage of one drop of blood…President Lungu can stop this, he is the Commander-In-Chief of the armed forces, he is the only one who can stop this. Not by just a word of mouth saying ‘no violence’… I know the position of Hichilema on the issues of violence and dialogue; he has tried to reach out to as many senior citizens to try and talk, because the issue on the agenda [dialogue process] is electoral
violence,” Banda said. “If we don’t sit and talk to each other then, how are we going to solve this problem? I am not talking as a politician, but as a concerned citizen. I have children and grandchildren. What is happening in other countries not far from here will happen in this country very soon.”
He said it was saddening that last week the PF cadres went to Parliament to stop an elected member of parliament from entering the premises.
“Where was the police command? Where were they? I know that the stakes are very high for politicians but it must not be at the cost of human life…even in the PF there are some leaders that are level headed and want to see sanity in this country…hey guys let’s stop this,” Banda said. “It is just power, nobody has been President since independence, nobody has been a diplomat, Inspector General or Army Commander since independence, things are dynamic, you can’t stay forever and say ‘we must defend it forever, we must kill for a vote’, it’s unacceptable.”
He said those that re-introduced multiparty democracy did not fight to entrench political violence but a situation where everyone was free to participate in governance issues.