Brigadier-General Godfrey Miyanda has warned that there are pangas and all sorts of weapons all over the country which people will use to hack each other ahead of the August 11 general elections if President Edgar Lungu does not act to end violence.
And Brig Gen Miyanda says the requirement for a police permit to hold political meetings was scrapped off when he was Republican vice-president, adding that political parties are only mandated to notify the police.
Brig Gen Miyanda, the Heritage Party leader, said in an interview that the bloodshed will be worse as campaigns intensify next year because the people who are being attacked will be forced to retaliate.
“Why has the President been quiet over this violence? He should have spoken out strongly because we are in danger if it is not controlled. The violence is going to escalate and when it escalates, people will be attacking each other in the compounds,” Brig Gen Miyanda warned.
“They will be hacking each other. You know there are pangas and all sorts of weapons everywhere; in boots of people’s cars, in the market places and bus stations, these things are there. We should not be comfortable with that. This violence is primitive.”
He said President Lungu should take the blame when PF cadres attack members of the public.
“You are answerable for what your cadres do. The government, including the President, are fond of saying, ‘We don’t want violence’, those are words. If you don’t want violence, show us that you mean it?” Brig Gen Miyanda said.
“The PF are attacking people who are holding meetings in private places, then the police don’t arrest them. All these things are wrong and they produce a baby called ‘violence’ because those people who have been treated that way will want to defend themselves. Violence begets violence, which means that if you carry out an act of violence, you are actually producing a baby called ‘violence’ because everybody will want to fight back.”
He said the PF was trying to intimidate other political players because it was afraid of losing power.
“People use violence because they want to intimidate, they want to have an upper hand, but the Patriotic Front, which is the one having the instruments of government has the means to prevent those things. Why are you afraid?” Brig Gen Miyanda wondered.
“When people misbehave or attack other people as it has become common now, the leader in charge must take action. Unfortunately, I have to mention the PF because this is the one which is prominently coming. This is completely unnecessary in our politics and we cannot put a finger on one party only. But ours is excluded, we are not a violent party.”
He also accused the police of applying the law unfairly to favour the ruling party.
“I was the vice-president and I am the one who took that new change for notice for public meetings. We removed the permission aspect; so as we stand now, there is no need for that,” Brig Gen Miyanda recalled.
He wondered why the police were not stopping the first lady from campaigning for her husband.
“Why can’t people hold meetings whenever they want them? The President is campaigning. He started a long time ago. Our first lady, I am sorry to say, is also campaigning although they say, ‘No she is doing philanthropic activities’ but yes, as she does that, has she not pronounced the words, ‘Vote for my husband, we are together. Give me a message, if you give me, it will reach him right away’. You see, those are campaigns. When others do the same, you stop them, why are you afraid?” asked Brig Gen Miyanda.
“I appeal to the government to also address the public order Act. Whereas there is a discussion that we must amend it, I don’t believe in such things myself. The present
one says, ‘Don’t get permission from the police, just let them know’, so yes, we can improve it but why are you not carrying out what is already there?”