The Southern African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (SACCORD) has called on the Patriotic Front (PF) and the opposition United Party for National Development (UPND) leadership to condemn the political violence that has rocked some parts of the country among their cadres.
SACCORD Executive Director Boniface Cheembe urged the two major political parties to restrain their followers from engaging in electoral violence being witnessed in the country.
The country has lately witnessed incidences of violence among political party cadres in Central, Copperbelt, Lusaka, Eastern, Southern, Muchinga, and Western Provinces.
Mr. Cheembe has meanwhile attributed the ongoing political violence to the failure to fully implement recommendations in the report of the Commission of Inquiry into Voting Patterns and Electoral Violence.
“Violence only breeds violence and therefore has no place in a peaceful democratic dispensation such as Zambia,” he said.
He has since urged all political parties contesting in this year’s general elections to co-exist by remaining tolerant through exercising compassion and offering the right solidarity in rejecting all forms of violence.
Mr. Cheembe noted that political parties should be responsible to avoid any incidents of violence as they conduct their door-to-door campaigns, necessitated by the Covid-19 pandemic.
He has also called upon the Zambia Police Service to be impartial and professional in executing their duties.
He further appealed to the Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) to take a keen interest in substance abuse that may be causing acts of electoral violence.
The SACCORD Executive Director has also called for continued multi-stakeholder dialogue engagement by the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) that offers a platform for political stakeholders to humanize one another as they interact in the field.
He said acts of electoral violence must be halted so that they do not continue to scare eligible voters for the August 12, 2021 general elections and disturb the peace thereby contribute to low voter turnout.
“It is in the interest of all political parties, democracy, and the country at large to ensure huge voter turnout and acts of electoral violence are a disservice to such a cause,” Mr. Cheembe said.
Meanwhile, Senior chief Shimumbi of the Bemba people of Luwingu district has called on political parties taking part in the general elections to observe peace as they campaign in his chiefdom.
The traditional leader said he wants everyone in his chiefdom to be peaceful and avoid confrontation during campaigns.
He further encouraged everyone in the area to live in peace with each other stating that peace is an important component for unity.
“I want everyone to maintain peace. You can speak to the people but if you encounter any challenges come and inform me,” he said.
Senior chief Shimumbi said this when former Northern Province Minister, Chungu Bwalya and his team called on him at his palace in Luwingu.
And Mr. Bwalya emphasized the need for everyone to maintain peace during this period.
He said peace is a catalyst for development adding that this is why President Edgar Lungu has been promoting peace and co-existence.
“I am happy that you touched on this important point of peace. We need to promote peace wherever there are people because peace is cardinal for development and our President has indicated to us the need to observe peace,” Mr. Bwalya said.
He explained that the PF will continue to be peaceful and restrain from any forms of violence.
He revealed that the PF will only continue to explain the things it has planned to do for the people of Zambia.
Meanwhile, spokesperson of senior chief Shimumbi, Paul Chunda said the chiefdom has resolved to support President Edgar Lungu in the general elections.
Mr. Chunda said the decision has been made because of the numerous support and development the President and his government have delivered to the area.
He explained that government has constructed a palace for the senior chief and also delivered schools, health centres and communication towers among others.
“We will not forget the good things that our President has done for the people in this area. That house (palace) you see there, it is the President who delivered. He has also given us schools, health centres and communication towers we have a lot to point at,” he said.
He has since remained confident that the PF government will retain power in the August 12 general election.