The recent meeting between President Edgar Lungu and Hakainde Hichilema is by any standards quite historic. These are two towering personalities that have spent the last three years shadow boxing and casting innuendos at each other. Nothing good has been possible in the other from wherever each one stands. More disturbingly has been the army of rabid supporters each one has recruited to discredit the other. Some of these rabid supporters have carried their roles too far with the capacity to cause harm in the name of their leader. Families have been torn apart as this political animosity has grown and almost encouraged by the two leaders. There has been no limit as to how much harm one can cause in the name of President Lungu or Hichilema. Some areas have been declared no go zones for rival supporters all in the name of politics.
For the first time in our politics we have seen the emergence of non-military personnel enlisted by political parties to defend their candidates. They unashamedly address each other as commander and at times embarrassingly wear military regalia with no repercussions. They are more powerful than conventional security personnel. All these things have been done in the name of politics.
The more civil and sober minded people have been ostracized from politics because they cannot cope with the hate and lack of civility in the political space.
It has become a preserve of unruly and almost always barbaric personalities who are idolized not for their political astuteness but for the amount of violence they are capable of inflicting and where they can’t participate they can procure violence.
Individuals with less money and no stomach for violence have been shut out with no following.
All these crimes have been committed in the name of President Lungu and Hichilema. The country has been driven to the edge almost to the point of disintegration because of hating in the name of President Lungu and Hichilema. So our question while all these political party cadres have been willing to maim and kill in the name of President Lungu and Hichilema, the two have been willing to come to a round table and share a drink. None of their children is exposed to the violence that cadres propagate in their names.
We implore the political party cadres on both sides of the divide to take a leaf from this example. No life should ever be lost in the name of politics. We understand the confusion going on in the minds of cadres as they witnessed their two gods embrace whilst they maim each other in the streets. We have not forgotten the confusion created when late presidents Michael Sata and Levy Mwanawasa reconciled. It left bitter political cadres in a confused state including then PF vice president Guy Scott.
We hope the cadres that are too ready to harm each other have taken the signal.