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Photo Credit: Zambia Daily Mail

Politically motivated violence has marked much of the campaign trials of the two biggest political parties in Zambia, and has resulted once more in both the PF and the UPND being suspended from campaigns in different locations.

With a little over a week to the polls, the United Party for National Development (UPND) has been suspended from campaigns once again.

Following a gruesome incident in which two Patriotic Front (PF) supporters were murdered by suspected rivals in the UPND, the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) has with immediate effect suspended campaigns for the UPND in Kanyama constituency.

It was expected that following the measures taken by the ECZ, both party structures would take the necessary measures within their parties to help curb the vice of political violence. However, we have seen that this trend has continued across both parties, with accusations flying from both sides.

As the situation continues to have the potential to be more volatile and tense as D-Day approaches, it is important that political violence is curbed effectively by all stakeholders.

However, some relevant stakeholders have spoken out against the immediate action by the ECZ. Sean Tembo, aspiring presidential candidate on the Patriots for Economic Progress ticket has said the decision to suspend all campaigns for the UPND in Kanyama constituency has the potential to impact the voting patterns of constituents. In a statement, Mr Tembo says the decision gives the PF “an undue upper hand in Kanyama constituency.”

Meanwhile, President Lungu has called upon the National Army to assist the police service to curb the political violence and deal with the deteriorating security situation. The Army has since been deployed in Lusaka, following last the incident in Kanyama.

In our opinion, this adds tension to an already charged atmosphere, especially as no parties have categorically taken responsibility for the violence that has rocked the country.  Even though the deployment of the army speaks to the issue of upholding law and order, it is very easy for tensions to reach a pitch and devolve into an uncontrollable situation.

All political parties whosemembers are involved in violence, should do more than just denounce it. There must be recognizable and tangible action that prevents members from attacking their rivals. We must encourage all political party members, particularly the youth to practice politics that focus on ideologies.

Both the PF and UPND have denounced violence from their members, but to prevent a full outbreak of chaos, both must desist from the playing the blame game and stop violence before it gets out of hand.


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