Council of Churches in Zambia says President Edgar Lungu should exercise his authority as Head of State to address the political violence urgently with seriousness and impartiality to bring the lawlessness to an end before the country becomes ungovernable ahead of the general elections.
CCZ President Bishop Dr Alfred Kalembo in a statement stated that the continued violence amongst political opponents was a clear indication that the pledge to end violence made by all political parties at the recently held political party indaba convened by the three church mother bodies was not being honoured.
“Following a meeting of the Executive Board in Lusaka on June 16, 2016 the Council of Churches in Zambia (CCZ) wishes to state the following in relation to the forth-coming general elections on August 11, 2016. The Council of Churches in Zambia (CCZ) has noted with disappointment the continued political violence that has characterized the political scene ahead of the August 11, 2016 general elections among political opponents which has in some instances resulted in injury and damage to property a situation which threatens the peace and security of the country,” Bishop Dr Kalembo stated.
“CCZ has observed that the political environment has become increasingly volatile and has diverted government’s attention from focusing on issues of improving people’s lives through developing the nation. Now all attention is focused on campaigns and related issues of violence and name-calling.”
party cadres dressed in military regalia are usually armed with weapons such as machetes, pangas and iron bars often used to attack each other
“We have noted that many political opponents are still using hate speech for intimidation, while party cadres dressed in military regalia are usually armed with weapons such as machetes, pangas and iron bars often used to attack each other across the various different political parties, destroying property and threatening violence in marked territories.”
Bishop Dr Kalembo stated that CCZ had noted with dismay at the political party campaigns which have taken the form of processions of branded motor vehicles carrying supporters who do not observe traffic rules causing danger to other road users who are forced out of the roads or threatened with violence if they defy orders from the political party supporters.
“We wish to appeal to all the Zambian citizens to refrain from engaging in violence because of their political differences. We also appeal to the Zambia Police Service to take its rightful position as a law enforcer to maintain peace and protect the lives of the citizens which are endangered by the prevailing political violence.”
He said CCZ is calling on all political party leaders who were present at the political party indaba held at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross to honour their promise which was an endeavour to advocate for a violent free political environment ahead of the elections as a way of expressing political tolerance for the development of the country.
“We are concerned that if political violence is not addressed the country is at risk of allowing machete wielding youths dressed in military regalia to intimidate the electorate during the forth-coming general elections a development which will affect the outcome of the elections.”