MALIGNANT CAMPAIGNS

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POLITICAL violence in Zambia is mainly birthed by intolerance and downright departure from democratic norms.

Additionally, some politicians use violence as a tool to intimidate their political nemesis; to scuttle their campaign programmes.

The violence in Sesheke is certainly not a good example of growing democracy, but an ugly patch on Zambia’s impressive record of being a beacon of peace.

The resultant violence in gruelling campaigns underpins the imperative need for political players to quickly actualise the much-talked about national dialogue.

Political intolerance and disregard for the provisions of the law are profoundly getting embedded into some political minds that should otherwise be preaching peace and co-existence.

It is also true that some players are steering their political journey beyond limit and want to use all possible means to emerge victorious.

They are taking politics out of context.

From the recent debate about national dialogue and the ensuing violence in by-election campaigns, some elements have demonstrated that they are in politics for wrong reasons.

They are pursuing a covert agenda!

Lest they get completely consumed, politics is not an end in itself but a means through which selfless service should be rendered in an honest and fair manner.

Politicians on both sides of the divide are servants of the people through whom the public should speak and steer the country to prosperity.

They are representatives of the citizens.

Therefore, it does not sit well with citizens that politicians should stir violence to emerge victorious in an election.

It is actually frustrating for citizens and voters in particular to witness their leaders drag each other in the mud.

This is one of the reasons why Zambia has experienced apathy in by-elections; people don’t want to be part of draconian politics.

 The attack on the PF Maondo campaign centre in Sesheke is one such draconian action which is against the law.

Any attack on the UPND is not legal either.

All candidates and their supporters are required to observe the Electoral Code of Conduct all the time.

It is against the Electoral Process Act No. 35 of 2016 for any candidate, agent or supporter to engage in violence or to intimidate opponents.

In many instances, violence is instituted through hooligans “imported” into an election area.

It appears that hundreds of youths, who fought running battles with police on Friday in Sesheke, could have been “imported” from Lusaka.

The tendency by politicians to start outdoing each other through violence must come to an end.

Politicians must just get to the round-table and thrash out contentious issues.

Warning bells have once again rang for politicians to embrace dialogue without raising unnecessary preliminary issues.

Politicians must demonstrate maturity and seriousness on matters of dialogue and elections; scars of the Sesheke violence must be left behind.

In fact, maturity and violence-free elections will bring to an end election petitions that have clogged court sessions.

Members from both the UPND and the PF should instead spend time articulating real issues during campaigns while candidates should freely debate matters before organised and peaceful audiences.

Such a scenario will provide an opportunity for voters to make informed choices.

Ultimately, the solution to all this mess in the political arena is the immediate convening of the national dialogue and not a prolonged debate about the format of this process.

Henceforth, the circus preceding the national dialogue must stop.

Failure to agree at the preliminary stage of national dialogue has exposed a number of gaps in Zambia’s polity.

Let there be civility in politics!

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