This wave of political violence is part of a scheme by this Patriotic Front government of Edgar Lungu to retain power.
They are simply not ready to leave office after one and half years of looting, amassing wealth at an unprecedented rate and enjoying themselves in ways they have never done before in their lives. Life is too sweet for them to end so quickly. They are ready to destroy anything standing in their way to retaining power. The levels of desperation on their part are very high and they are ready to do anything to secure their hold on power.
In addition to this, there is also fear of being prosecuted should they lose power. They know what they have done is wrong and if another political party comes into power, they are likely to be arrested, prosecuted and jailed.
This violence is being orchestrated at very high levels of the leadership of the Patriotic Front and its government. When you listen to their talk about violence and peace, there is no conviction in what they are trying to say. And they are not in any way against violence. Even the peace they talk about is that of being allowed to dominate the political space and do as they please without challenge from anyone. Any attempt to challenge them is provocation that must be answered back with violence. There is nobody they are not ready to assault if they try to stand in their way. They can even denounce and assault Pope Francis if he tried to question their actions. Edgar’s whole opposition to violence is a façade because he doesn’t mean it. His real position on violence is very different from what he says at church gatherings.
This violence of Patriotic Front cadres is led and well organised. It is not spontaneous; it is orchestrated. Money is mobilised to ensure that the most violent youths are assembled and set on their political opponents. These youths are not engaging in violence for the heck of it. They are highly rewarded for engaging in violence. But the sad part of all this is that the police is part of this violence. And if there is a change of government, the police command will have a lot to answer for and some of them may have to go to jail for allowing and perpetrating this violence. There is no professionalism anymore on the part of this police command. And it can’t be hidden anymore; they are at the service of Patriotic Front violence. The only discernible preoccupation of the police today is the harassment of opposition cadres and the curtailment of opposition meetings. If there is a change of government, it will not be enough just to fire the police command. There will be need to prosecute them if we have to make serious changes to the way our police is run. This type of impunity should not be allowed.
And when there is a change of government, Edgar will need to be prosecuted not only for the corruption of his regime but also for this violence and other human and constitutional rights abuses. This is the only way this impunity will be put to an end. If not, the next government, when threatened with electoral defeat, will behave the same way.
Even the Judiciary should not be spared. A new government should seriously consider doing what was done in Kenya. An Act of Parliament will need to be passed to dissolve the current Judiciary, nullify all appointments and ask everyone to reapply. Public interviews will have to be conducted and every judge should be made to account for the judgments they passed. A total cleanup of the Judiciary is a must. It will not be possible to continue with a Judiciary full of political cadres appointed and promoted on the basis of their usefulness, on the basis of the favourable judgments they had passed. Today we have judges who have been rewarded for their role in helping those in power achieve their political objectives or agendas. Those judges are not people’s judges; they belong to those politicians and must go away with them, must fall with them. It is easier for our people to get rid of bad politicians through the ballot even where there are attempts to manipulate their will. But it is not possible for them to do the same with judges. If we have bad judges in their 30s or 40s, we are lumbered with them for some three, four decades. This shouldn’t be so. The whole judicial process is rotten and deliberately so. And we all know that nothing good comes out of a rotten situation. Only maggots grow out of rotten things.
No one in public life should get away with abuses. We saw Frederick Chiluba being saved by Rupiah Banda from going to jail for corruption and other abuses. And today, we are witnessing very shameful deals being cut between Rupiah and Edgar in a similar way. Yes, they can do what they want today because they have power but tomorrow when this power is lost, they should be made to account for what they are doing today. Every person – politician, judge and so on and so forth – occupying a public office must be made to account for the decisions and actions they take.
It will not be difficult to get the evidence of what is going on. Everything they are doing is under the scrutiny of some fellow citizens. All the evidence of this violence going on will not be difficult to assemble and all those involved in it are known or will be known.