THE Southern African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes says it hopes peace and not guns will characterise the political environment all the way up to 2021 and beyond.
Executive director Boniface Cheembe said SACCORD has taken note and welcomes the timely observation and advise by President Edgar Lungu to the Zambia Police Service (ZPS) on the need to address the culture of guns and political violence that has increasingly characterized Zambia’s political campaigns.
Cheembe said the appeal by the Head of State was timely in that the country would become more politicised as all stakeholders prepared to participate in the 2021 general elections.
He said democracy and politics must be a celebration of who was best able to peacefully persuade the masses to vote for them as opposed to who is able to carry guns and participate actively in acts of political violence.
“It is our hope that as we start the year 2020 with some forthcoming by-elections that peace and no guns will characterise our political environment all the way up to 2021 and beyond. As a country that has understood the importance of peace, we must reject any notion that participation in democracy and governance must lead to people dying either through the gun or otherwise,” Cheembe stated. “It is our hope that everyone will allow and respect the Zambia Police Service to provide the necessary security to all political and democracy stakeholders and thereby ensure that no individual should feel justified to carry any guns. This call and advise by the President to avoid guns and political violence must include all political activities such as the conduct of intraparty democracy by various political parties in readiness for the 2021 general elections.”
He stated that the PF being the party in power must always take the lead where intraparty democracy is concerned and the news that the party would hold a general conference to elect their presidential candidate for the 2021 elections was a welcome and important democratic development.
Cheembe stated that it would have been difficult to see how other political parties would have exercised intraparty democracy without the ruling PF playing the leading role.
He stated that strong national democracy starts at a political party level as that acted as an indicator on the extent to which a party would exercise democracy at a national level once voted into office.
“Therefore, we hope that all political parties will hold their intraparty democratic processes as this is a confidence building measure to the people of Zambia that once elected into office, they will uphold the democratic credentials to which Zambia subscribes,” stated Cheembe. “Our hope as SACCORD is that all these processes will be conducted in a peaceful manner that will allow for ideas to flourish as people are given an option to choose a leadership of their choice. This process must have no tolerance for the gun culture which is a destruction to the Zambia’s peaceful democracy.”