‘Please, preach peace’

IT’S said that peace is not merely the absence of visible conflict. But only a just peace based on the inherent rights and dignity of every individual can truly be lasting.

And Martin Luther King Jr years ago stated that, “Violence never brings permanent peace. It solves no social problem: it merely creates new and more complicated ones.”

Today Mwata Kazembe, the senior chief of the Lunda people of Luapula Province, is cautioning politicians to stick to the dictates of plural democracy failure to which Zambia risks splitting into two halves.

“If you go back into history, you’ll think of those times when UNIP led by Dr Kenneth Kaunda, and ANC under the leadership of Harry Mwaanga Nkumbula, had their supporters who were clashing and hacking each other. Those times were truly bad! That’s why they resorted to a one party State until that system was found to have its own faults. So, in 1991 Zambians, led by Dr [Frederick Chiluba] nabambi (with others) said let’s return to plural politics and we saw the MMD being in power for 20 years. Therefore, the PF took-over the mantle. Plural politics do not mean hacking each other or insulting each other. No!” says Mwata Kazembe. “In plural politics people are allowed to speak out. But as you go round campaigning as politicians, please musunge icibote (preserve peace). This peace we see in Zambia cannot be found everywhere across Africa or the world. You (Harry Kalaba) are a former foreign affairs minister and ndemona mwalisabantile isonde lyonse (I believe that you extensively travelled across the globe) and you have seen how other countries have been torn apart by violence. So, don’t use character assassination as you campaign or any other form of language that will incite your followers to start hacking each other. I mean, every one of you has followers and if there is no restraint, cino icalo cikaba pabili (this country will split into two) because no one wants to be suppressed…extremes breed violence. To you political actors, ensure that you offer checks and balances to those in power so that they don’t go to extremes. Those in the opposition are a shadow government and mailo limbi kuti babapo (maybe tomorrow they could be the ones [in charge]. The peace of this country is more important than any individual’s interests. We have to guard it! Problems start like this, bit by bit. It’s like cancer…That’s one thing we must always think. Please, preach peace and even President [Edgar] Lungu should preach peace. Bonse fye (everyone else). I emphasise that politicians must preserve the peace of this country. After all, it’s God who ordains who should lead this country. And this country does not belong to any person. It’s our collective property as Zambians. That’s what should encourage everybody to advocate for peace.”

We agree with the Mwata’s wise counsel.

We must do everything in our power to preserve peace. Let politicians, as they canvass for votes – as they battle it out for public office – promote and practice peace and love to ensure Zambia remains a unitary State.

As Barack Obama stated when receiving the Nobel Peace Prize, “I receive this honor with deep gratitude and great humility. It is an award that speaks to our highest aspirations – that for all the cruelty and hardship of our world, we are not mere prisoners of fate. Our actions matter, and can bend history in the direction of justice.. I believe that peace is unstable where citizens are denied the right to speak freely or worship as they please; choose their own leaders or assemble without fear. Pent-up grievances fester, and the suppression of tribal and religious identity can lead to violence. Let us reach for the world that ought to be – that spark of the divine that still stirs within each of our souls. Somewhere today, in the here and now, in the world as it is, a soldier sees he’s outgunned, but stands firm to keep the peace. Somewhere today, in this world, a young protestor awaits the brutality of her government, but has the courage to march on. Somewhere today, a mother facing punishing poverty still takes the time to teach her child, scrapes together what few coins she has to send that child to school – because she believes that a cruel world still has a place for that child’s dreams. Let us live by their example. We can acknowledge that oppression will always be with us, and still strive for justice. We can admit the intractability of depravation, and still strive for dignity. Clear-eyed, we can understand that there will be war, and still strive for peace. We can do that – for that is the story of human progress; that’s the hope of all the world; and at this moment of challenge, that must be our work here on Earth.”

Our politics should not be a war. Our election campaigns should not be used to show who is mightier than the other but should be platforms for expression of ideas of how to better our homeland. Our young people, who are often manipulated to administer violence, should be educated to love others, not to hate, maim, and even kill. This way we will be building a unitary state where we only differ in ideas. Indeed, just as a family divided against itself cannot stand, a nation divided against itself will surely fail on all fronts. There should be no declaration or partitioning of certain areas as exclusive zones for particular parties. Doing so is what contributes to conflict.
And our law enforcement officers must execute their mandate with fairness. We see that the police in particular are often behaving like they are in employment of the ruling party. Their work is often seen to be facilitative of the governing party. Often the police are blocking parties opposed to the approaches of the party in power. Police, particularly those in command, have thrown professionalism to the wind. We urge our policemen and women to be above partisan politics and strictly enforce the law with fairness, not giving undue advantage to one group of Zambians at the expense of the others. This breeds unnecessary mistrust, conflict and division that the Mwata is talking about.

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