Each election cycle, blood is spilled like dirt water. We mourn in rage until another election, while politicians drink beers together. Each election cycle, we employ democratic freedoms to indulge in violence rather than “serve one another humbly in love,” as Paul said to the Galatians. As Christians, we forget that “the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.”
Paul’s picture of devouring is that of a lion tearing helpless lamb to pieces—it is ugly. The shooting of Lawerence Banda, aka Gaddafi in Kaoma, the funeral at the Cathedral of Holy Cross and subsequent violence that ensued following his death and final service was ugly. But it also suggests the disconnect between politics and Christianity. In a country where more than 90 percent self-identify as Christian and politicians and cadres frequent churches, it is evidently clear that Christians are among those engaged in politically-sanctioned violence.
Who is to blame for this violence? PF says it is the UPND, while UPND says it the PF. As this finger pointing continues, blood overflows within our streets, provinces, and nation. Our democratic elections are won with human blood. The PF and the UNPD are equally responsible for this violence. Of course, the PF has state machinery to carry out its schemes. In its strongholds, however, UPND is as violent as PF.
To think that UPND will become peaceful once in power is a myth. HH will employ the same tactics the PF government employs today, should he by divine intervention, win the bloody 2021 elections. If history has something to teach, wait until 2021. When UNIP ruled, MMD cried foul. When MMD got power, most of us thought the violent nature of the UNIP regime would be history—unfortunately not. MMD became even the more violent than the very party it replaced. PF and UPND cried foul, and we thought PF would change things. Sadly, PF became worse than the MMD. Today Kambwili can cry aloud, but he was among the most violent politicians Zambia has seen. It is time for us to change this sad history.
Political inspired violence benefit from the cult of the “big” man. To be recognized in Zambian politics, one must shed blood. The most violent and vicious cadres are the very ones rewarded, while the peace loving political cadres are sidelined. William Banda, Willie Nsanda, GBM, Kawimba, Mumbi Phiri—count them one by one, and it will surprise you what makes honorable MPs and ministers. The more brutal, the better the prospect of entering the 2021 race to Parliament.
Politics is often described as a dogfight, but in Zambia, it is now a bloody combat. The useless and immoral phrase “peaceful campaign” as declared by the toothless Electoral Commission of Zambia in every election makes me wonder if we live on the same planet. The number of people who died or had their behinds and faces sliced by opposing cadres should not be a norm in our election. Violence is not the norm in the democratic process. Yet it is an established pattern–poor people’s blood is the fuel that drives cars to Parliament and State House.
The toothless Electoral Commission of Zambia and our politically influenced courts have the power to nullify election results of MPs and Councilors. Yet it is presidential candidates who endorse political violence. As sad as the death of Mr Banda is, it is suggestive nonetheless. Until Lungu and HH bussed Lusaka cadres to Kaoma, no violence was reported. Is it not time to outlaw the bussing of political cadres from other parts of Zambia?
Besides, why should we nullify parliamentary elections based on the free and fair rule, but count the presidential results? We cannot honor the 50+1 clause, while counting results from nullified constituencies. Until presidential candidates know that they will lose their power should results from one constituency be nullified, they will ride on innocent blood to get to Plot One. After all, the big man has the power to appoint even the disqualified individual as MP.
The funeral of Gaddafi at our Cathedral is an invitation to the church to address political violence in the nation. The Church’s failure to hold cadres and politicians accountable for political violence will lead to more funerals. The church must not wait for another coffin to enter our sacred spaces. We cannot sing the hymn of “Christian nation” and reward politicians with big chairs whenever they visit churches when their hands are socked in innocent blood. When will churches boycott the national day of prayer, stop politicians from entering churches until they pledge to non-violent campaigns? Are brown envelopes more important than human blood? It is shameful that we have exchanged God’s people with gold. Shame and shame on us men and women of the cloth!
Lucky Dube’s “War And Crime” bellows from the grave:
I’m not saying this
Because I’m a coward
But I’m thinking of the lives
That we lose everytime we fight
Killing innocent people
Who doesn’t know about the [PF]
Who doesn’t know about the [UNPD]
Your mother didn’t tell you the truth
Cause my father did not tell me the truth.
Unless we collectively address political violence, come 2021, our beloved Zambia is on steroids!
By Rev. Kapya Kaoma