ANY failure to adhere to the voice of the Church and other peace-loving institutions has potential for breeding more deadly violence come 2021, says the Council of Churches in Zambia (CCZ).
And CCZ says any individual who goes against the law must be arrested and punished regardless of their political affiliation, tribe, race or religion.
CCZ has urged the Zambia Police Service command to make it a top priority disarming all political cadres ahead of the 2021 general elections.
CCZ general secretary Fr Emmanuel Chikoya advised the police command in the country to discharge their duties in a desired and professional manner without siding with any political party more especially during election campaigns.
Reacting to the electoral violence in the Kaoma Council chairperson by-election that was characterised by a shooting incident which claimed one life and injured several others, Fr Chikoya said the police command had a top priority of preparing a safe playing field for all politicians ahead of the 2021 general elections by disarming cadres in all political parties.
Fr Chikoya, who noted that the police were working under difficult circumstances when dealing with political party cadres, appealed to the police command to emulate the words of Martin King Luther Junior that ‘The time is always right to do right’, stressing that it was better to apply justice fairly even if it means being not politically correct.
Fr Chikoya, who also noted the directive by President Edgar Lungu that all civilians that have guns must be disarmed and arrested, stressed the need for more decisive leadership that empowered the police and allowed them to be autonomous and professional.
He said the Church desired a police service that swiftly arrests ruling political party cadres when they go against the law in the same manner opposition cadres were swiftly arrested.
Fr Chikoya cited the PF cadres that were seen on a recorded video hurling insults and death threats at former Roan member of parliament Chishimba Kambwili during the Roan parliamentary by-election whom he said have not been arrested to this day.
He said it was the Church’s firm belief that as long as the nation does not allow the long arm of government to reach out and deal with all violent party cadres without discrimination, the country will never resolve the challenges of political violence.
He said the buck stops at those who have the instruments of power [President Lungu].
Fr Chikoya said the known ruling party cadre who shot dead an opposition counterpart in Kaoma on Monday must be arrested and detained in the same manner the known opposition cadre who shot and injured others was arrested and detained.
He said it was such small actions of applying the law selectively that have the potential to set the country on fire if allowed to continue.
Fr Chikoya said Zambia belongs to all citizens and the law was for all citizens.
He stressed that any individual who goes against the law must be arrested and punished regardless of their political affiliation, tribe, race or religion.
He reiterated that as long as office bearers continue to portray actions that threaten the peace of the nation, the Church would continue to condemn, guide and offer counsel.
Fr Chikoya urged all those serving the country in positions of influence to heed to the advice by counsellors, especially the voice of the Church, in matters such as what was obtaining in Kaoma.
He reiterated his call to both the Patriotic Front and the UPND to take responsibility and help discipline their unruly cadres instead of blaming each other at the expense of losing lives.
He said any failure to adhere to the voice of the Church and other peace-loving institutions and Zambians at large had big potential to breed more deadly violence in 2021.
He emphasized that the Zambia police must not entertain selective application of the law because the offended might rise up one day to defend themselves and that might not be easy to control.
Fr Chikoya further questioned the source of the gun culture among civilians in Zambia and whether citizens were really safe when armed cadres seemed to be more powerful than the established Zambia police.
He said there was need to decisively deal with the root causes instead of just “trimming the tree” of political violence in the country.
Fr Chikoya said the advancement of political violence from pangas and stones to wielding guns demands quick and decisive action by all those involved.
He said what was obtaining on the ground underscores the urgent need for genuine and comprehensive national dialogue that would result in a thriving, peaceful and united Zambia where all citizens develop and lead sustainable lives.
On Monday, electoral violence erupted in the Kaoma Council chairperson by-election campaigns between PF and UPND cadres who produced pistols and in the process one UPND cadre was shot dead while several others were left with gunshot wounds.