By Anthony Bwalya – UPND Member
Yesterday, President Edgar Lungu again went on the record in his usually muted, badly choreographed Statehouse Press Statements; in which he practically made the problem of armed violence in the political arena a “problem for all Zambians”, as opposed to taking absolute responsibility that this is fundamentally a Patriotic Front (PF) creation, which now has the main opposition UPND having to make a decision around whether or not such barbaric, militia tactics by the PF should be repaid with the force it deserves.
Of course, in the UPND, the consensus is such that once, if, when and should our constitutional liberties to assemble, associate and speak freely come under such unsolicited attack at the hands of a heavily weaponized, armed, gun wielding PF militias, we will and shall defend our rights without reserve BUT have committed to doing so with caution, restraint and with such utter respect for the rule of law and human life – including the lives of our adversaries.
As a party, the UPND and it’s leadership have always held, that the primary responsibility to maintain law and order, and that of keeping all of us safe, irrespective of our political affiliations, rests with the police. And this is why we have kept on reminding our men and women in uniform to guard against executing political orders that fly in the face of constitutionalism, the basis of our collective nationhood.
Military grade, armed political violence under the Patriotic Front (PF) and the Presidency of Edgar Lungu has not only surged. It has also found institutional legitimacy and protection.
The level of armed militia tactics being employed by the PF to routinely intimidate members of the main opposition UPND and it’s leadership cannot be executed without the blessing and financial backing of Statehouse. These have become highly sophisticated, organized and bold.
The militiamen are acting for and on behalf of Statehouse and President Edgar Lungu’s illegal bid to remain in power post 2021.
Zambians must be reminded, that the UPND has been in existence for many years. And before the PF came into power in 2011, there was never heard of or seen the level of big money, assault weapons based political violence in Zambia. Never.
Zambia has lost more young men to political violence in the period 2011- 2019 than it did in the 20 years post the rebirth of multipartism in 1991. This is not a coincidence and records are there for all of us to tap into and verify.
The main worry in the UPND is that political violence on the scale we are witnessing under the PF always distorts national conversations and the erodes the credibility of our national elections as more and more people choose to keep away and stay alive, than lose their lives at the hands of what is evidently a criminal gang of corrupt, power hungry degenerates mascarading as political leaders.
And as has been warned by various respected international research organisations, the focus of the PF regime has invariably moved away from realistically and logically serving the Zambian people. Their conversation has moved towards consolidating their power base for themselves at the expense of Zambians.
This is why they are unapologetic about commiting the country to a mountain of public debt we can never pay, because in the short run, it allows them to artificially hoodwink the public into submission.
Except, not anymore.
Zambians will and shall not be cheated.
Zambians will and shall rise to the challenge and defend the integrity, unity and togetherness of our shared nationhood until we get the sound political leadership we deserve.
Zambians do not want guns in politics.
Zambians want ideas for INCLUSIVE development, ideas that will help us resolve the corruption question, growing income and wealth inequalities, joblessness, pensions insecurities, poor education standards, the land question, substandard public healthcare and restoration of the rule of law and our constitutionalism.
This is the Zambia we want, and this is the Zambia we all should and must fight for and defend.