The opposition United Party for National Development (UPND), soon after the Sesheke parliamentary by-election, raised serious allegations of violence against the Patriotic Front and reported the Head of State, President Edgar Lungu, the ruling party secretary general Davies Mwila, home affairs minister Stephen Kampyongo, State House spokesperson Amos Chanda and others to the International Criminal Court.
The UPND accused the top leadership of the PF of having caused widespread violence in Sesheke, which it claimed left many maimed and hospitalized. For this, a detailed document of what is believed to be violence of the Sesheke by-election was prepared and a media briefing was held by the Opposition Alliance where their chairperson, Charles Milupi, spoke passionately about their plan to report to the ICC. They went on to even name someone, Major Richard Kachingwe’s son, of having threatened to shoot a member of the UPND when the person in the photo alleged is someone else (so shocking and embarrassing).
When the dust of this entire hullabaloo was almost settling, the PF losing candidate in the Sesheke by-election Dean Masule petitioned the election result, saying he lost the poll because of widespread violence in the area. Masule wants the court to annul UPND winning candidate Romeo Kang’ombe’s election because of widespread violence. But in response, Kang’ombe stated that violence did not characterize the February 12 by-election and called the petition by Masule as speculative. The UPND, through Kang’ombe, has denied having any knowledge of incidences of violence in Sesheke during the by-election involving the UPND cadres and that if there were any, then they were isolated.
This is totally confusing! The UPND, a party that stood on top of the mountain crying “violence” in Sesheke, are today saying there nothing of that sort that happened! Did the UPND think twice about their action to report President Lungu, Kampyongo, Mwila, Amos and others to the ICC? Was that an act of them trying to quickly cleanse themselves of their participation in the violence seen during the by-election? They obviously did not foresee a petition from the losing PF candidate. But now with this petition on their plate, they were caught in between two hard rocks and didn’t know where to turn to. In the end, they had no choice but to change statements about what they earlier called a bloody by-election that forced them to quickly put up a claim of widespread violence to the ICC. It doesn’t make sense for the UPND to wake up today and deny violence when they made that their song before and soon after elections.
If, indeed, there was extreme violence in the Sesheke parliamentary by-election, as earlier reported by themselves, the UPND must be ready to bear the blame for having been part of it. Fairly apportioning blame and accepting it as such is the only way political violence in this country will be dealt with. Going round circles on the matter will actually only worsen the situation. Political parties must, as a matter of fact, begin to co-exist and look at each other as only competitors in elections but collaborators when it comes to delivering development to the people of this country.
The youths – the cadres – must learn from their leaders such as members of parliament who freely mingle and share drinks and food at Parliament without getting on each other’s throats. That is the kind of politics we must get into as 2021 approaches.