By Father Alex Muyebe, S.J. – Executive Director
The Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection (JCTR) is calling on both the ruling and opposition political party leaders to immediately put an end to political violence in this Zambia. Mother Zambia has a hard earned reputation as a peaceful and friendly country. This reputation now hangs in the balance as we increasingly continue to experience unwarranted cases of political violence which are doing irreparable damage to our long standing motto of “One Zambia, One Nation.”
It is disheartening to see people from the same community engaging in physical violence and fights emanating from the political differences. Clashes between party cadres must never be allowed to take place in this country because we are one people who must always respect and accommodate each other’s political opinions. Political leaders must promote politics of mutual tolerance and mutual respect and must lead by example.
Political leaders must work together to stamp out this cancer of political violence that is slowly but surely spreading in the political fabric of this nation. The current politically charged environment in Zambia is being fueled by polarized media, institutionalization of cadreism, proliferation of hate speeches, cheap culture of handouts, promotion of geo-centric and ethnocentric-politics, and erosion of confidence in the electoral process.
Politics must be a tool of service for social, cultural, and economic progress of all the people. The objective of all forms of governance and power relations must be to foster the common good of the citizens. Political violence, on the contrary, is characterised by both physical and psychological acts aimed at injuring or intimidating the other, and in some instances occasioning deaths. In a country where we pride ourselves of being a Christian nation, we should be ashamed that incidents of political violence are now becoming a common occurrence.
It is worrisome that political party leaders in this country are not ashamed of exploiting or taking advantage of poor, unemployed and vulnerable youths to their advantage. Unemployed youths are being used as tools of violence that can easily be sacrificed like pawn pieces in a game of chess. It is also sad to note that some youths are allowing themselves to be brainwashed and to sacrifice their human dignity at the altar of political hooliganism. It is high time young people woke up and be in charge of their destiny.
“A JUST ZAMBIAN SOCIETY GUIDED BY FAITH, WHERE EVERYONE ENJOYS FULLNESS OF LIFE”
JCTR is therefore calling on all political leaders in Zambia to work together and take concrete steps to stem out the culture of political violence by addressing the root causes listed above. Politicians must take a lead in practicing and promoting politics of mutual tolerance and mutual respect. Mere public denunciation or condemnation of political violence alone will not stop violence. Leaders must teach by example. This country needs leaders that are capable of engaging in a constructive dialogue and honest reconciliation. Zambia needs leaders that are capable of putting the interest of the nation ahead of their personal interest or their cronies’ interest.
Attribute statement to Father Alex Muyebe, S.J. – Executive Director