The Council of Elders under the auspices of the Zambia Elections Information Centre have condemned the unprecedented levels of political violence as the country heads to the August 11 polls.
In a statement issued on behalf of the ZEIC Council of Elders, Father Leonard Chiti says skirmishes involving rival political cadres have become a daily routine.
The ZEIC Council of Elders comprises Fr Chiti, Dr Anna Chifungula, Mama Chibesa Kankasa and Mr Simon Zukas.
Fr Chiti said this should not be the case especially that Zambia is known as a peaceful nation and a model of African democracy.
He said Zambians should not dent the country’s good image.
“Violence, in whatever form and under whatever circumstances, is evil. Violence prevents people from exercising their constitutional right of participating freely in political processes such as elections,” Fr Chiti said.
He added, “We urge Zambians to exercise restraint and ensure peace and stability during this period. Let us not allow elections to set us against each other. We are one people. There is more that brings us together as a nation than the few artificial differences caused by varying political views. Elections come and go, but once a life has been lost it cannot be replaced. Let us be responsible,” he said.
Fr Chiti has since encouraged political leaders to desist from mudslinging, insults and threats that have violent undertones.
“Instead, political leaders must be exemplary and debate on their different policies and plans for the country. This will make political debates will be richer. The electorate will listen more closely as to why they should vote for a political party or candidate.”
He added, “As Zambians, we have what it takes to stop violence. Let us preserver the peace of our nation. Let us strengthen our unity as a people. We may have different political views, support different candidates or parties, but we are all one. To our young people, we say: do not sell your dignity for a few pieces of silver. Let us stop violence.”
The Zambia Elections Information Centre is a multi-stakeholder information collection and sharing platform that seeks to enhance the credibility of the 11 August 2016 elections.
Through the ZEIC citizens’ platform, the issue of violence has been repeatedly reported as one of the major concerns in this electoral season.
Citizens are sending messages and reports through platforms like WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Email, Phone Calls and through SMS to our short code 2323. Most of the reports received from citizens show that violence is rearing its ugly head in many parts of the country.
The ZEIC is documenting these reports and we will soon be sharing some of the information give you a picture of the concerns coming from the public.