By Antonio Mwanza
Of late the country has witnessed a sickening spate of political violence. What is more worrying is that instead of dealing with the root causes of the vice, the country is being fed to a discourse of finger pointing and hopelessness. The root causes of political violence are well known and straight forward. These include high prevailing levels of poverty and youth unemployment, ignorance among many youths and hatred and intolerance created by politicians who feed on tribalism, nepotism, intimidation and corruption to perpetuate themselves in office; the failure by the police and the courts to arrest and jail perpetrators and sponsors of violence.
Political violence is organised and sponsored by known senior politicians using known common thugs. The police have been rendered useless as the cadres have become more powerful since they work under the instructions and protection of those in hire leadership positions. Actually, all any cadre needs to go out on the streets beating people and destroying property is a PF chitenge or a PF t-shirt. Once you are in PF regalia then you are untouchable, not even the police can stop you. The police service itself has been infiltrated by PF cadres and it’s now operating as an extension of the PF vigilante wing. And as long as political violence remain unpunished it will only get worse.
With the prevailing high levels of poverty and youth destitution, political violence has become a source of income. PF youths in overalls and berets even tell their children and wives that they have gone for work when they leave their homes to go out to cause havoc. These youths in overalls and berets are being mentally militarised and are told that their role is to crush their opponents. Actually, even President Edgar Lungu believes in that philosophy, that is why he has declared that he will crush any one who oppose him or his policies.
How then can we end political violence? in the short term we have to punish perpetrators and sponsors of violence. The police and the courts have a greater role to play in this. In the long term we have to fight the root cause of this violence, which is poverty, unemployment, destitution, ignorance, hatred and political immaturity. If we don’t address the root causes of political violence then we should all brace ourselves for civil strife.
Antonio Mwanza. FDD Spokesperson