By: Anthony Bwalya – UPND Member
To PRESIDENT Hakainde Hichilema of the UPND, I want to say this: I can see and feel the pain in your eyes. But in that pain and suffering, rests your love for your country and it’s people. That will always be your greatest victory.
I also want to be clear and on the record from the onset on a number of things:
Firstly, that the UPND holds a very clear agenda for change and reform; an agenda we wish to use in interrogating what we believe has been a failed PF development agenda, as well as their legacy and culture of corruption and bad leadership whose results are evident in all of our homes and communities.
Secondly, the UPND as an organization does not espouse, promote or encourage political violence. The tenets that gave birth to the party, the same tenets that has held it together for so many years, are very clear in focus. It is about creating a rule of law that works for all of us, restoring the credibility, quality and standard of life for our people by reducing poverty and putting people back at the center of national development and growth.
Thirdly, the UPND has no policy of arming or encouraging it’s members to carry or brandish assault, military grade and other offensive weapons. The UPND continues to emphasize the primary responsibility for the police to maintain law and order and keep all of us safe and to effect the law with impartiality.
Also important to note, is that the call by the UPND leadership for it’s members to defend themselves when attacked, is often done so reluctantly and with such dejection and despair, and as a rallying cry for help and for the police to do their job. The UPND always encourages it’s membership, even under the most intense of provocation, to respond with the utmost restraint, caution and with such complete and total respect for human life.
Further, that the UPND remains committed to collaborating with all stakeholders and political actors in working through all available options and alternatives, to ensure that we retain order to public life, and rid our politics of rapidly degenerating culture of political violence.
The UPND does not want the country to lose focus of the critical conversations around jobs, education, government corruption, poverty, inequality, healthcare, land administration, the economy etc.
These are and will remain our primary areas of focus of engagement as we enter the crucial period leading up to 2021.
But we also take great exception to the deceitfulness of our colleagues in the PF. Yesterday, while Hon. Kelvin Samoa was on Let The People Talk purportedly talking peace with our Gilbert Liswaniso, PF CADRES were in fact mobilizing and preparing to ambush, attack and disrupt the UPND in their process of mourning and remembering the life of Lawrence Banda, slain by paid political assailants.
That was disingenuous on the part of the Patriotic Front leadership and it raises questions around their willingness and commitment to decist from any conduct which may be understood as promoting and sponsoring political violence.
We also think it is distasteful for the PF Deputy Secretary General Madam Mumbi Phiri to wantonly and without an ounce of caution, level Lawrence Banda a criminal who died while trying to steal a bag. That is not how leaders communicate. Her remarks were nothing short of inflammatory and caused anguish to the entire UPND family, but even, to the family and children of Lawrence Banda.
Violence cannot and must never be adopted as the principal medium of communicating our political differences and disagreements. It overshadows and undermines our collective ability to focus on the right sort of developmental, progressive, productive and constructive conversations.
It is sad, that instead of the country discussing the state, quality and standard of public education and healthcare, so that my son can have a fighting chance at a decent future, the country is firmly gripped into a discussion of violent political party politics and polarisation.
When will we have a discussion around how we collectively resolve the question of securing long term land rights for Zambians when current public policy places a demand for hefty payment against it, against a heavily impoverished local population whose ability to buy has been eroded by a fast collapsing economy?
When will we have a productive, honest conversation around public sector grand, political corruption and state capture; all of which have ocassioned such incalculable damage onto our people, irrespective of political party affiliations?
I am proposing a crisis meeting between PRESIDENT Edgar Lungu of the PF and the Republic, and PRESIDENT Hakainde Hichilema of the United Party for National Development (UPND), and the leadership of the police, to be mediated by the Church, to kickstart a different conversation around how we will make violent politics stop.