By Dr Given Mutinta
It is reasonable for a person to argue, even without scientific research conducted, that many people in Zambia think that the 11th August elections will be violent.
People thinking this way are not doing so without reasons.
History under President Edgar Lungu’s leadership confirms the imminent political violence people are mulling over. Fault lines are manifesting as seen in the violent skirmishes instigated by Patriotic Front (PF) cadres against opposition parties.
Elections campaign posters for the opposition have been torn, party offices vandalised, cars smashed, people including police officers beaten, school property destroyed, and people killed.
This political violence is an iceberg of the impending high scale political carnage.
One does not need to be an expert in terrorism to see that the acts of violence committed by PF cadres are part of the ploy sponsored by the sitting regime outside of the context of a declared war.
Lungu should come out in open and declare war because the level of disrespect for civilian life seen through attacks by PF cadres suggests that there is undeclared war against opposition parties.
How does one justify Lungu’s inability to tame PF cadres when he is Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces?
With control over the instruments of power including the army, police and intelligence services, how can Lungu fail to domesticate PF cadres?
Is Lungu telling the nation that the security wings lack capacity to arrest PF cadres who are terrorizing innocent people?
It is ridiculous to believe that security wings have failed to deal with violent PF cadres.
The truth is that Lungu knows very well who chairs undercover meetings in which violence against innocent people is consciously plotted and who funds PF cadres perpetrating violence.
If the political violence we are witnessing today is not State terrorism, what is it?
Instead of using the security branches to protect the public Lungu is using them to fight people he is supposed to protect.
This is what makes Lungu’s condemnation of political violence hypocritical because that is how far he can go to pretend to be against political violence. How can Lungu genuinely call for the arrest of the violent PF cadres who are merely implementing his political ploy to hold on to power?
When a leader uses this power advantage, especially by employing political cadres to terrorize people, it is an abrogation of a most sacred obligation.
Lungu should be unsmilingly warned that the embers of political violent he is fanning is not only a violation of universal human rights, but it is State terrorism against Zambians.
It is not a secret that Lungu is using violence to maintain political control which is an admission that he has no legitimate claim to power. Lungu seems to be sufficiently informed that he will lose this year’s elections and the only way to hold on to power is to use violence.
The current groundswell of political violence committed by PF cadres is an indication that Lungu does not believe in the democratic tenant that a legitimate leader rules with the consent of the people.
It is common sense that a leader who beats citizens into submission is little better than a terrorist or a criminal gang leader.
Everyone is able to see that Lungu is hiding behind the mind-numbing public statement that he does not “condone violence” when the opposite is true. Thus, Lungu is just as complicity as his violent cadres. In fact, in many ways, more so, since Lungu has the responsibility and power as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces to do more than make lukewarm and deceitful statements against violence.
Today we may not be caught up in the current upsurge of violence, but remember that through political violence Lungu is sowing a seed of bloodshed that will have lifelong negative consequences.
It takes basic logic to know that a leader who uses violence as a way of maintaining his control, in effect legitimizes violence as a means of power transfer. This is not new to Lungu who became PF president in Kabwe through intraparty political violence.
Unfortunately, such a leader must continue to escalate levels of violence to stay in power. Therefore, this culture of political violence has come to stay if Lungu, by hook or by crook, wins the August elections.
Through political violence Lungu is creating a culture of violence within the general population. This tragic consequence of violence should be faced head on by well-meaning citizens to prevent it from taking root in this country.
The danger of creating a culture of political violence as Lungu is doing is that it breeds a lack of mutual respect and an atmosphere of fear and distrust that negatively impacts on different aspects of national development.
For those who have eyes to see, signs are there to decipher that the current political violence would boil over as the elections draw nearer.
This is what has made different diplomats accredited to Zambia to condemn violence and give vent for issue-based elections campaigns.
As a hypocrite he is, Lungu endorsed the call for peace at the indaba that three Church mother bodies presided over the political parties’ violence this year. But his actions feign peace approved by all stakeholders at the indaba.
The United Nations and diplomats accredited to Zambia should take keen interest in Lungu’s political violence and be on hand to lend guidance for peace before this country is set on fire.
When a leader such as Lungu’s fails to reaffirm the significance of the universal declaration of human rights and fails to support the international covenant on civil and political rights which ascertain that the authority to govern shall be based on the will of the people as expressed in regular and genuine elections, why should the international community fail to act in strict conformity with the United Nations Charter?
What should it take the international community to see that Lungu’s political violence is a sign that he does not acknowledge and endorse the fundamental principles relating to periodic free and fair elections?
To expect free and fair elections under Lungu’s obdurate leadership recognized by countries in universal and regional human rights instruments is as absurd as expecting blood out of a stone.
If critical local and international voices cannot speak now against Lungu’s political violence and national conspiracy against the wishes of the Zambian people, then let those voices forever hold their peace.
Zambians and friends of Zambia should rise with one voice and say enough of Lungu’s political violence.
People deserve an issue not violence-based elections campaigns. Rather than speaking to the issues raised by corruption in government, a floundering economy that is clearly headed for disaster, Lungu is interested in unleashing violence across party lines.
The way for Lungu to convince the electorate that he is not a violent leader they take him for, though too late, is by taking bold actions against PF cadres committing violence.
As long as Lungu continues to grow a fondness for violence which shows him up as desperate and lacking sound arguments to counter the opposition, his chances of winning the elections are very slim.
From the time Lungu flagged off his elections campaigns he comes out firing. He seems conscious of the fact that, far from being a mere contestant, the opposition will actually defeat him at the polls.
For this reason, Lungu has developed a fondness to throw what sounds like personal insults calling his political competitors stupid, conmen, beneficiary of privatization, and threatening to sort them out if they do not accept the rigged elections results.
Is this not taking the campaign further away from being issue-based and a further justification that Lungu is a protagonist of political violence and behind the current trend of violence?
But this is the kind of a leader Zambia has, a warehouse of snobbery and political violence.
I am convinced that Zambians want a more clued-up president than one who uses his power to threaten people, and fuel violence.
Therefore, the generalised vituperations, and political violence that has characterised elections campaigns is unacceptable.
We need a campaign environment where political party cadres slash each other with pangas of practical questions of how their leaders will implement their political party manifestoes to stir up national development not bloodshed.