After reading Laura Miti’s reported statement in Lusaka Times of 2nd March 2015 headlined “What was Hakainde Hichilema’s role in the Grazier Matapa funeral fiasco” I am compelled to give a response. From the outset I must say that I respect Laura and I support her cause as I identify myself with that cause in all scheme of things political in Zambia. Laura is an important person in the area of shaping opinion on any matter she chooses to comment on. However, allowing her statement to go without calibration is to do injustice to matters surrounding the “fiasco”.
Reading the five questions Laura asked and the rest of the statement as reported left me feeling the volley of bullets were directed at the wrong and soft target. What difference does it make whether the party leadership authorized the carrying of the coffin through the streets of Lusaka or not? It is my opinion that such an act is a choice of freedom of expression. It sends a strong message to those who choose violence as a way of expressing their partisan political victory. Besides, I would seek the position of learned persons on whether there is any law that prohibits funeral processions on foot.
What is “uncultural” about a funeral procession on foot? What made the end appalling and inevitable if not the overzealous and ill cultured police officers? Why did the police have to order the mourners to put the casket on a vehicle? What law did the mourners break by carrying the casket on their shoulders? I am amazed that the police had tear gas for peaceful mourners when they do not use it on panga wielders when they do what they have been schooled to do by their leaders – violence.
On the question of controlling party cadres we must be honest and give praise where it is due. Between the two major parties (PF and UPND) which leadership has had better control of their cadres in the last three years? Who does not know that PF is the mother of violence in today’s Zambia? One sure legacy of the PF is violence, which has pervaded the party to the extent that there has been volatility within the party itself. The PF Police force seemed to have been incorporated into glorifying violence. Carrying pangas has become the new culture that Zambians must not allow to get into our blood stream.
I find the question directed at the UPND and especially President Hichilema on justifying violence rather condescending. The UPND were the ones that the police tear-gassed. There has been no report from any quarter to the effect that the mourners started the fiasco. Lecturing HH and his party on the need to do something to ensure their cadres understand whatever “cardinal point” is shooting at a soft target; addressing symptoms and not the root cause of current political violence. What all Zambians must do is discourage any form of violence from any section of our society. Ultimately, those we elect into government have greater responsibility of ensuring that every Zambian understands how democracy works.
Mapanza H Nkwilimba