THE culture of carrying guns that is now creeping into our politics must be stopped, says the Southern African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (SACCORD).
Executive director Boniface Cheembe says SACCORD regrets and strongly condemns the reported acts of political violence in the ongoing Kaoma council chairperson by-election campaigns where one UPND cadre was killed and several ruling Patriotic Front and the opposition members were injured.
Cheembe said participation in the nation’s governance and democratic dispensation must never lead to people losing their lives through guns or any other form of weapon.
He said democracy was a competitive process which must always be exercised through the peaceful exchange of ideas and not through guns or violence.
“The culture of carrying guns that is now creeping into our politics must be stopped and losing one life through the gun during campaigns must be enough for all peace-loving Zambians to see the danger of such a culture,” Cheembe said. “In Kaoma, it is one citizen killed through the gun and if we tolerate this culture as a country, we may start the process of normalising it and in future more lives may be lost through the gun during campaigns. In short, the gun is now becoming an immediate and clear present danger to the peace and unity of our communities around the country through the negative consequences of people being killed or injured. The ruling PF and opposition UPND need to take more greater responsibility over the behaviour of their cadres by prevailing over them to reduce or completely desist from engaging in acts of political violence.”
Cheembe said it should not please anyone in the country for lives to be lost and for people to get injured in the course of participating in democracy.
“We hope that the two political parties will take time off their politics and campaigns and ensure that the deceased is mourned in a manner that is humane and that must be all-embracing with utmost tolerance as per our culture,” he said.
Cheembe appealed to the Zambia Police to provide maximum security and protection to the PF, UPND, and the citizens of Kaoma and everywhere else where by-elections were taking place.
“We further make an appeal to the Zambia Police to ensure that all participating stakeholders are screened to avoid people carrying guns unnecessarily,” he said. “A gun is a very dangerous weapon and is easily tempting when tempers are high hence the ease with people shooting and producing the very worst negative consequence of people either being killed or injured.”
Chembe said there was no need for civilians to be carrying guns during political campaigns when the Zambia Police was available to protect all citizens of the country irrespective of political affiliation.
“In this regard, we support the message from the Republican President for the police to take charge of security matters in Kaoma and everywhere around the country,” he said. “However, this call by the Republican President requires the support of political party structures from presidents and secretaries general, among others, to ensure that the Zambia Police become effective in addressing this gun culture and political violence in the country.”/