Political terrorism by PF must be stopped

The on-going systematic and orchestrated attacks on opposition political leaders by the ruling Patriotic Front (PF) sponsored hooligans are a recipe for economic and political instability in Zambia.

It is a well known fact that violence will only attract violence. It may be a matter of time, but certainly decent Zambians will one day raise and defend their hard earned democracy and freedom which the PF government is assaulting with impunity through sponsoring political violence.

Yes, the politically-motivated physical harassment of Movement for Multi-Party Democracy (MMD) presidential hopeful Dr Nevers Mumba and United Party for National development (UPND) President Hakainde Hichilema (HH) is a direct assault to multi-party democracy.

The attacks are an orchestrated political campaign of terror on politicians who are offering credible and serious challenge to President Sata, whose party is demonstrating signs of taking back Zambia to a one party state syndrome of the Party and its Government (PIG).

The nation will recall how PF cadres attacked Dr. Mumba while on his campaign for the Musanzala by-election in Eastern Province while then deputy Home Affairs Minister, Obvious Mwaliteta, looked on, and perhaps even encouraged the cadres. He was reported as saying “these things [the harassment of political opponents] happen in politics”. Dr Mumba was again attacked in Kasama, Northern Province, by PF cadres. Recently, alleged thugs, broke into his house and stole his personal Laptop and documents. It is clear to any reasonable mind that the interest was on getting personal information and contact details of Dr. Mumba’s associates, sympathizers or supporters with a view of detracting his political ambition of leading the MMD..

In dictatorships, such acts of political terrorism of breaking into highly secure homes are undertaken not by ordinary criminals but by highly trained security officers who are supposed to provide the very security cover to individuals they terrorise on behalf of the powers that be.

Not too long ago, PF cadres even went to HH’s resident to harass him and instead of arresting the criminals, police officers just escorted them back after they did not find Mr. Hichilema at his residence. Shamelessly, the PF cadres took an opportunity of harassing HH immediately they saw him at a funeral of Princess Nakatindi Wina, and the police were on hand, doing nothing but smiling as they watched UPND cadres protecting their leader from the wrath of PF thugs. There are again disturbing reports that PF thugs are planning to harass HH at the funeral of the former Vice Republican President in the MMD government George Kunda. Theirs is not to mourn, but to at all cost carry out a campaign of political terror as directed by their master.

This is unacceptable and should be stopped. PF cadres and anyone involved in these clearly well-planned campaign of terror on opposition political leaders should be advised that these people being attached are our fellow citizens and should be allowed to exercise and enjoy their freedom of association, speech and assembly without any form of victimization because Zambia is a democracy.

The major worry is that most of the civil society organisations, which include human rights NGOs and the media that were providing checks and balances on the excesses of the Executive, have been grossly compromised. Not even the women movement could be heard condemning the PF cadres for attempting to undress UPND National Women’s Chairlady, Namakau Kabwiku, who was among the members protecting HH from being harassed. The reason? Because she is a UPND women leader. They have all become part of the ruling PF machinery with a number of them waiting on the tentacles for political appointments. It is each for themselves!

There is widespread fear that as the country holds the numerous parliamentary by-elections, this kind of political victimization will increase. It is expected to be worse as the country heads towards the 2016 tripartite elections, more so with the recruitment of party cadres and politicians as District Commissioners. Indeed, political pundits suspect that the recruitment of party cadres and politicians as District Commissioners is a well thought out strategy of facilitating siphoning of public resources for political activities, including sorting out those holding and expressing divergent viewpoints.

The attacks on Dr. Mumba and HH should be viewed in a broader context of emerging signs of a rogue state, using state apparatus to harass its own citizens. This should be cause for worry because, already economic indicators are worsening and as a country we cannot afford to add more problems of political oppression. We are sounding an early warning alarm to everyone that democracy is under attack and time to defend it is now. Otherwise the country will have to start afresh fighting the entrenched dictatorship at a great cost, including shedding blood when this could be avoided by nipping the PF sponsored political violence in the bud!

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