SACCORD says the actions by alleged PF cadres who attacked the opposition UPND Secretariat and damaged property on Thursday undermines the work of stakeholders advocating for a peaceful election.
Speaking in an interview Boniface Cheembe, the SACCORD Executive Director said leaders of political parties should do more in ensuring that they restrain their cadres from engaging in political violence with impunity.
Mr Cheembe said many stakeholders have been working at ensuring that peace prevails during elections hence political parties should play their part in ensuring that their cadres do not jeopardize the peace that the country enjoys.
“What transpired yesterday at the UPND Secretariat by alleged PF cadres were they damaged property shortly after the filing in of nomination papers by President Lungu, it was expected that people would rejoice in a peaceful manner considering the fact that many stakeholders have been working at ensuring that peace prevails in our country and that peace characterizes the campaign period and generally speaking the electoral process in our country, during the vote, after the vote and beyond.
“The fact that we are now seeing cadres decide all by themselves to go and attack a Secretariat and damage property and inflict a lot of loss to the victims of political violence is a thing that needs to be condemned and no body should justify it in any way therefore, as SACCORD we want to strongly appeal to the Zambia Police Service that they need to send a strong message and a very clear message that any body who engages in political violence will not be tolerated irrespective of their political affiliation. We hope that they will move in very swiftly to investigate cadres who were involved yesterday in those actions at UPND secretariat yesterday and bring such perpetrators to book,” he said.
He said the country should not be sending mixed signals on political violence and that the police should send a clear message that violence will not be tolerated regardless of ones political affiliation.
“We cannot continue as a nation sending mixed signals that somehow if you happen to belong to certain political party you may engage in political violence with impunity, it is such a sense of impunity that has helped plunge other nations in the region into choas.
“We are concerned as an organization that we appear to be complacent and take the peace we have been naturing and enjoying as a country for granted. Many countries around the region have their citizens run to Zambia not only for safe havens but also as a destination for them to fulfil their life project.
“If most of these countries which are not stable can have their citizens flocking to Zambia and in an event that we lose our peace and we have our citizens needing to free this country where are they going to go for safe haven and fulfil their life project? Most like
Y it will be in a very few places,” he said.
He added “We cannot afford to lose our peace and ensuring that does not happen we must protect the peace that we have and ensure that the few individuals who believe that they can take the law in their own hands or act politically violently with impunity they need to be brought to book , they need not to be allowed to continue denting the image of our country which we have had since 1964.”