STATEMENT ON RECENT SPATE OF VIOLENCE AND LOOTING
The Stand for Peace Foundation has described the attacks on shops owned by Rwandan nationals in Lusaka as “unacceptable,” and called for its immediate end while again expressing its deep concern about the violence.
The Foundation has condemned in the strongest possible terms the outbreak of violent attacks on foreign nationals, their properties and shops in Lusaka in a statement issued by its Director for Public and International Relations, Miss Patience Chisanga in Lusaka today.
“Like many other Zambians, we have been deeply saddened and disturbed to see this latest flare-up of a form of violence and discrimination which is all too unfamiliar a sight on our country’s landscape. We wish to express our sincere sympathies to the regrettable losses which have been suffered during this unfortunate occurrence. This is damaging our Zambian brand of peace and unity which has attracted so many foreigners with business interests into our country. We need these foreign business people who are helping to create employment which our people desperately need. We are one Africa bound by many areas of commonalities and our spirit of Ubuntu (humanity – I am because you are). I hope that spirit will prevail even under the trying circumstances,” said Miss Chisanga.
“Rwandans are the largest group of immigrants in Zambia, owning shops in the densely populated areas which have been affected by the riots. They number about 6,000, and many of them came to Zambia as refugees fleeing the 1994 genocide in their home country. A number of them have been integrated in our communities and even married Zambians. Young men who have been ransacking their shops, possibly reflecting growing frustration at the high levels of unemployment and the rising cost of living. Another addition to the twist are the rumours which have been spreading as a result of the recent ritual killings.”She added.
“Whatever the challenges we may be facing, no circumstances justify attacks on people, whether foreign or local. This is totally unacceptable and pure criminality which has no place in a functional democracy. We cannot minimize the blame of these barbaric acts because of some warped need to pontificate about economic policies. Class struggle does not justify racism, sexism or Xenophobia. Whatever has been happening definitely does not justify the destruction of businesses which people have built with handwork and sacrifice over so many years.” She said.
Miss Chisanga further states that, “Attempts to write this violence off as the work of a small criminal elements or to justify it on the grounds that foreigners might be linked to ritual killings or committing crime simply clouds the issue and does not help us get to the bottom of this horizontal violence affecting mostly the working class and those living in poverty.”
“Zambia owes a great debt to African countries for their support and solidarity during its trying times. Their humanity and compassion stood in stark contrast to the inhumanity, violence and looting which is currently taking place. The crisis demands strong leadership to condemn without qualification the attacks which have no place in our democracy.” Miss Chisanga stated.
“We welcome the recent visits to certain trouble spots by the Minister of Home Affairs, Mr Davies Mwila. More needs to be done, however, to address the root causes of this violence and to provide adequate, secure refuge and relief to those directly affected. While we recognise the importance of brining the existing situation under control, we are also calling for government, civil society, trade unions, faith based groups and other stakeholders to come together to build a comprehensive and lasting solution to the growing scourge of violence which the country has witnessed the past few years. Without this commitment we will continually find ourselves fighting the fires of outbreaks of violence without ever bringing about lasting change.
We, therefore, call on the government and other leaders in our country to:
- Name these attacks for what they are, condemn them in the strongest terms and take strong action against any individuals guilty of inciting this violence.
- The police expeditiously and professionally handle the investigations in the ritual killings.
- Work speedily to bring the current situation under control and act to protect foreign nationals and their livelihoods.
- Prosecute to the fullest extent of the law perpetrators and those responsible for the attacks.
- Work with civil society, civic organisations, faith based groups and other stakeholders to develop a long term strategy to tackle the growing scourge of all forms of violence in Zambia more so ahead of the 2016 General Elections.
For further information contact:
Patience Chisanga – Call: +260955929314 email: [email protected]
Kenny Tonga – Call:+260977769852 email: [email protected]