‘No one can stop them now’

We have serious concerns about next year’s elections not being peaceful, free and fair.

Looking at the way last week’s by-elections were conducted, we brace ourselves for very violent elections next year. There was violence in the Chilubi parliamentary by-election and in Mongu’s Kaande ward by-election.

Guns were used by known Patriotic Front cadres in Mongu but no arrests have been made by police. Equally, the Patriotic Front cadres who were behind the violence in Chilubi are known. But no arrests have been made. Why? There’s no police officer who can dare arrest a Patriotic Front cadre. Look at what happened to the police officers who tried to disarm Patriotic Front cadres in Sesheke last year! They were fired by Edgar Lungu. This impunity will continue in the next year’s general elections. And if this violence and the impunity that accompanies it continues then it will be impossible to hold peaceful, free and fair elections. Right now we don’t see anyone who will stop this violence. Edgar is incapable of stopping this violence. In fact, one can justifiably say it is Edgar behind this violence. And he is its greatest beneficiary. The uneven political playing field that was witnessed in Chilubi and other places will continue because no one seems capable of stopping it. The Electoral Commission of Zambia has proved impotent when it comes to addressing opposition grievances against the Patriotic Front. The democratic space is shrinking by the day. Opposition rallies are being stopped by Edgar. The Zambia Police is not acting independently when it comes to issuing permits for rallies. They are told by Edgar and his minion Stephen Kampyongo who and when to grant or deny a rally permit. We are aware that it took the Socialist Party not less than six months to be given a permit to hold a rally in Matero. And after more than six months of seeking a permit to hold a rally in Chinsali, the Socialist Party is yet to be granted a permit in this area that was considered to be a stronghold of the Patriotic Front. The situation is not different for the UPND. How do you explain the hounding of Hakainde Hichilema out of Chilubi by the police yet he had permit to campaign in that area ahead of the just-ended by-election? Edgar doesn’t want his political opponents to carry out any political mobilisation work. It’s only him and his minions who should do so. This is the political environment the opposition is operating under today. But what is more worrying is that there is no sign that things will change for the better. This is the only way Edgar thinks he can survive politically – violence, abuse of the public order Act and the police. And to this add the use of money and mealie-meal to buy votes, to corrupt the electorate.

As Bob Marley put it in a reggae rhythm, “…Check out the real situation. Nation war against nation
Where did it all begin? When will it end?
Well, it seems like, total destruction the only solution. And there ain’t no use no one can stop them now. Ain’t no use, nobody can stop them now….”

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