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As Zambia counts down to its August 12 general election, violent clashes among some political party groups have become rife, despite political parties signing a peace and non-violent accord, recently, resulting into the death of two political cadres a few days ago.
The main perpetrators are reported to be the ruling Patriotic Front (PF) and the main United Party for National Development (UPND).
President enlists the help of the military
Zambia’s President Edgar Lungu, has since deployed the military, to curb the violence and maintain peace and order, before, during and after the elections.
He announced over the weekend, that defence personnel had already been deployed in some parts of the capital, Lusaka and would be deployed in other parts of the country, where need arises.
“I have taken this step-in order to ensure that the electoral process – the work of the Electoral Commission of Zambia, is not interfered with, nor undermined, ” said Lungu, adding that no one should die for exercising their democratic freedom.
Main culprits engage in blame games
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While the PF blame the UPND for the violence, the latter claim it’s the other way round and that they only fight back in self defence.
“We signed a peace accord with the UPND. After signing that peace accord, what has UPND done? UPND has continued on their road to violence. They beat our people and anybody who wears PF regalia is being attacked, they attacked a woman, [just a few days ago], brutally beat that woman.
They beat our people; they beat a journalist and other people. Clearly the UPND have abrogated this peace accord. They have continued to attack people, they have continued to burn buildings, “says PF Media Director, Antonio Mwanza.
Mwanza claims further, that from the time the political parties signed the peace accord, his party has not engaged in any form of political violence.
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“On the other hand, we have seen continued political violence from our colleagues in the UPND. Our parliamentary candidate was attacked, two vehicles damaged beyond repair, her house broken into, we had two people that were brutally beaten and the billboard for his excellency the President, was burnt, we did not retaliate. Instead, we continued to report these issues to the police and to the electoral commission of Zambia,” he emphasises.
But the UPND disputes such allegations, saying they do not condone barbaric behaviour.
“As United Party for National Development, we want to distance ourselves from any acts of violence. As a political party, we will not condone any loose minded people, to bring about, political violence,” says the opposition party’s deputy national youth chairperson, Trevor Mwiinde.
” We are in a war of ideas and we are in a battle of ideas. As politicians, we do not want to go down in the history books, to say we brought confusion or anarchy in the way politics are done in this country”, Mwiinde claims further.
He narrates that the UPND are the victims of PF sponsored violence.
“There has been a lot of destruction. Our youths, their houses destroyed, their business premises disturbed, their money stolen, they have been hacked time and again. We are not perpetuating violence; we are not pushing for any political violence what-so-ever and we will do all it takes to make sure we don’t mess up this country. We want to make sure that we leave this country, a better place than we found it, ” he re-iterates.
ECZ metes out punishment
After conducting an investigation into the violence that caused the loss of two lives, the country’s electoral body, the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ), has decided to suspend indefinitely, the opposition UPND’s campaign activities in Lusaka’s Kanyama township, where the said violence, occurred.
“In this regard, the concerned political party will not be allowed to conduct any form of campaigns in the said jurisdiction. In the same vein, the Zambia Police, should not allow any political activities by the affected party, ” reads a statement to that effect, released by the commission’s corporate affairs manager, Patricia Luhanga.