August 11 is fast approaching and the political mood in Zambia is getting hotter by the day. But pockets of violence seem to characterize the run up to the elections in one of Africa’s most peaceful countries.
Zambia is on record of holding peaceful elections and presidential successions without violence. But this year’s election seems to spread fears of political violence especially between the two rivals, the PF led by incumbent president Edgar Chagwa Lungu and the UPND led by Lusaka business tycoon Hakainde Hichilema.
In March 2016, among fears of political violence, the church in Zambia brought together political parties to dialogue with specific focus on finding a lasting solution to the spate of violence that was characterizing the run up to the elections. But nothing much seems to have changed as clashes have continued especially between the PF and UPND.
On Saturday Police Chief Kakoma Kanganja issued an official warning for the public to desist from carrying unauthorized weapons such as guns and machetes in public.
“The police has noticed a proliferation of items that are dangerous which are being used to cause insecurity in our country”, read Kanganja’s statement in part. He further warned that the police will not hesitate to arrest anyone found armed in public in a manner that causes public terror even if such persons are licensed fire arm holders.
But the UPND would rather Police Chief’s warning was directed to the PF who, according the party (UPND) general secretary are the ones whose cadres move around with stones, hoes, pangas, Machetes, axes, crowbars and guns in public. Responding to Police Chief’s statement, Neto Halwabala, a Lusaka resident, accused the Police of misleading the public by sending a warning to all the political parties instead of the PF alone.
Less than a week ago, Police in Namwala district, Southern Zambia, had arrested and detained former UPND Namwala Member of Parliament Moono Lubezhi for allegedly assaulting a member of another opposition party, the Forum for Democracy and Development (FDD). Charity Kabongomana whose arm and leg was broken was allegedly attacked by a group of UPND cadres.
Zambians go to the polls on August 11 to elect leaders at presidential, parliamentary and council levels. The general elections come at the end of the Patriotic Front’s first term in office ushered in by late Micheal Sata and continued after a bye election by Edgar Lungu.
The August elections are still too close to call. Campaigns have commenced across the country with candidates traversing the corners of the country using whichever means is at their disposal.