VIOLENCE FREE POLLS

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ALL political parties must echo calls for violence free campaigns in the by-elections in Roan and Bahati Parliamentary constituencies and in the seven Local Government wards.

The campaigns must this time around proceed without clashes between cadres from rival parties.

This, therefore, entails that all political parties denounce violence and ensure that their cadres desist from draconian tactics.

Zambia prides herself as an oasis of peace and pioneer of democracy having been the first country to respond to the wind of change, which started in the late ‘80s.

This has been demonstrated in many instances including the peaceful and smooth hand over of power through six Presidents.

It is against such a rich background that all political parties must uphold peace and work towards further entrenching tenets of democracy.

The dark past of the Sesheke by-election debacle should be consigned to history.

As Patriotic Front Copperbelt chairman Nathan Chanda said recently, there is no room for violence before, during and after the elections.

An election is just a democratic contest in the political arena which should not drift into violent confrontation.

There is absolutely no reason for that. Instead, political parties should expound their policies and how they intend to implement development should their preferred candidate emerge winner.

Political parties must prove to the electorate that their candidate is worth voting for and worth to sit as a legislative representative. It is no time for name-calling, but time to articulate issues affecting people and how challenges will be resolved.

For instance, Bahati constituency in Mansa is grappling with rising cases of early marriages. Competing political parties must explain to the electorate the programmes they would introduce to curb this vice.

It is also expected that political leaders in Roan constituency will concentrate on explaining to the electorate how they intend to address youth unemployment.

The playing field in both Roan and Bahati constituencies as well as in the seven Local Government wards is even since the filing of nomination.

No one party should start contaminating the campaign through uncouth language and violent acts.

PF candidate Joel Chibuye and his team have denounced violence and pledged that there will be no “importation” of cadres from elsewhere.

It is expected, therefore, that National Democratic Congress candidate Joseph Chishala and his boss Chishimba Kambwili will equally speak peace.

In fact, the message about peace should not only be preached during campaign, but should resonate all the time.

Political parties should regularly organise workshops on peace-building and democracy to enable their members fully appreciate the imperative need to co-exist.

There should also be enhanced interactions between rival parties through various means such as sport.

Social football between PF and United Party for National Development for example could narrow the differences.

Opposition political parties should also call off their boycott of national events such as Independence anniversary and Africa Freedom Day.

While national dialogue seems to be elusive, political parties can find other means of resolving their differences.

Thus political parties must henceforth narrow their differences and embrace each other.

Differences should only be on manifestos and approach to party programmes and not between the ruling party and the opposition.

It’s time for violence free elections.

 

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