The peace pact between the ruling Patriotic Front (PF) and United Party for National Development (UPND) on 20th July 2018 in Lusaka represents one of the most significant developments in the country’s quest to civilize political competition.
The undiscerning eye may not see the magnitude of this seemingly one-off political event between two arch competitors focussing on the Lusaka Mayoral poll.
But if the two parties and other political players genuinely ascribe to the ideals of civil political exchange, this event will pass off as a milestone in the country’s political and electoral dispensation.
President Lungu has unequivocally openly called for peaceful campaigns and condemned all acts of violence in political mobilization, stressing that this behaviour is at variance with Zambia’s generally acclaimed civil culture.
But other political leaders have been lukewarm as they speak on violence, often conditioning their peace messages on such improbable factors as self-defence and vote rigging.
It is therefore, impressive that the opposition UPND has now publicly signed up to the peace initiative through their National Youth Chairman Obvious Mwaliteta who signed with his PF counterpart Hon. Stephen Kampyongo.
This is an important building block towards stronger commitment perhaps at the higher level of party presidents in the foreseeable future.
It is also important to note that the commitment to peace was made from the point where violence emanate from, the youth wings of the two main political parties, PF and UPND.
It is also significant to note that the Youth Chairman of the ruling party is also the minister responsible for the police who are charged with duty to maintain law and order and preserve national peace.
This is a huge responsibility on the shoulders of Hon Kampyongo, that, if the voluntary ascension to this peace pact does not hold, he has inescapable responsibility to decisively enforce law and order through the lawfully mandates organs of the state. Police cannot be negotiating law enforcement with law breakers! If the police are constrained from enforcing the law by the burden of nomenclature of “service” we might as well rename them as a “force.” How can the police be spending more time explaining which party started the fight and which one responded? Police are supposed to arrest law breakers. Period. It matters less if these criminals are red, green or yellow!
Zambians are generally averse to this now rampant sub-culture of political violence.
All other facets of Zambian society are generally peaceful and tolerant with one another but in the political space, it seems some rogue elements are trying to condition Zambians to accept that violence is the currency of political exchange. This is an unacceptable!