The Oasis Forum says it is extremely disturbed, appalled and greatly saddened by the increasing incidents of politically motivated violence in the run-up to the August 11 General Elections.
The Forum says this is despite the commitments political parties pronounced at the Indaba on political violence held at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross on 29th March 2016.
It said it is disheartening that the resolutions of that Indaba have been thrown to the wind and our political leaders are once more letting the country down.
The Oasis Forum includes the Council of Churches in Zambia (CCZ), the Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia (EFZ), the Law Association of Zambia (LAZ), the Non-Governmental Coordinating Council (NGOCC) and the Zambia Episcopal Conference (ZEC).
we are deeply shocked by the apparent impotence of the police when the unruly cadres from the ruling party take the law into their hands and commit abominable acts in their face.
Forum Chairman Fr Cleophas Lungu said the wise counsel of the Church and other stakeholders in the governance of the country has not been heeded by the authorities responsible for maintaining law and order.
Fr Lungu observed that political violence has been on the rise at a very alarming rate.
“The Oasis Forum observes that the incidences of political violence are symptomatic of a serious breakdown of law and order in the country and are a threat not only to the holding of free, fair and credible elections, as expected in August 2016, but also to our very existence as a sovereign state which has enjoyed relative peace on the African Continent for over fifty years. Something drastic needs to be done sooner than later,” Fr Lungu said.
He said the Oasis Forum also wishes to register its deep concern over the conduct of the Zambia Police Service who continue to fail to discharge their statutory functions and to act impartially in maintaining law and order.
“In the past, the Oasis Forum made repeated calls to the Zambia Police and other state law enforcement agencies to act decisively and bring all perpetrators of violence to justice as a way of preserving peace in the country. However, we are deeply shocked by the apparent impotence of the police when the unruly cadres from the ruling party take the law into their hands and commit abominable acts in their face.”
He added. “And yet, the same police will apply excessive force when confronting members of the opposition. On the other hand, the behaviour of some cadres from the opposition leaves much to be desired. Indeed, no legal excuse can be given for citizens taking the law into their own hands, even on account of failure by the police to objectively and professionally administer the Public Order Act (POA).”
Fr Lungu has since appealed for calm and maximum restraint from especially the members of the Patriotic Front (PF) and the United Party for National Development (UPND).
“It is incumbent on all of us not to do or say anything that might worsen an already volatile situation. The Oasis Forum also calls on the youth to desist from being used by political actors to intimidate other political players who have the same right to belong to a party of their choice and hold divergent political opinions.”