Political parties have affirmed and pledged to maintain and promote peace during and after the August 12, general elections.
During a press conference for political party presidents held in Lusaka today, various political parties present signed the peace pledge, assuring the public that they will be peaceful, before, during and after the elections.
New Heritage Party president, Chishala Kateka noted that Zambians have a responsibility to maintain peace not only for the benefit of Zambians but also those seeking refuge in the country.
Ms Kateka stated that Zambia has been a peaceful nation which is a place of refuge for various people, who ran away from wars hence the need for everyone to contribute to securing the peace in the country.
“So we can say that Zambia is a nation of refuge and various groups have had a peaceful coexistence. It therefore, it goes without saying that as a nation, we have a very important peace role to play on the continent and beyond,” she said
Patriotic Front Secretary General, Davis Mwila revealed that the PF leadership has directed all party members to carry out issue based elections.
“As a party, we have directed all our party members to conduct issue based campaigns on our achievements, our ideas and policies in our manifesto. We intend to win the elections in a free and fair environment without any political violence,” he said.
And United Party for National Development president, Hakainde Hichilema stated that it is essential to contain the current negative harsh environment.
“We must identify the source of violence and must isolate all those that are being violent,” he said.
Zambia Centre for Interparty Dialogue (ZCID), a co-convener of the peace conference expressed optimism that the coming together of political party presidents in the conference, reaffirms a peaceful and violence free election.
ZCID Board Chairperson, Jackson Silavwe said peace can only be maintained when people realize that dialogue and peace is possible amongst people with divergent views.
“We have rights to enjoy and obligations to perform, this is the true manifestation of Ubuntu, a preservation of our founding father’s legacy,” he stated.
Meanwhile, Church Mother Bodies representative, Paul Mususu expressed concern that people have not taken steps to deal with the causes of political violence.
“We should actually seek the root cause of this violence and try to have lasting solutions that will prevent our children from being killed as a result of political violence,” Bishop Mususu said.
Special representative of the Secretary General to the African Union, Hanna Tetteh said Zambia has enjoyed peace since independence saying this must be sustained at all costs.
Ms Tetteh noted that people often do not know how valuable peace is, until they have to deal with the challenges of conflict.
And Common Wealth Secretary General, Patricia Scotland said elections must be regarded as an opportunity, to engage on political debate on issues and not exchanging insults.
Political party leaders that signed the pledge to observe peace include Patriotic Front, United Party for National Development, the Socialist party, Democratic Party, United Nations Independence Party, Peoples Alliance for Change, Zambian United for Sustainable Development among others.