CHIEF Government Spokesperson Joseph Katema has warned that perpetrators of violence will be prosecuted if chaos continue in Luampa and other areas where by-elections will be held.
Dr Katema has since urged the police command to take up its full responsibility in Luampa and other trouble spots to protect people’s lives and property.
And the Foundation for Democratic Process (FODEP) has urged the Patriotic Front (PF) and United Party for National Development (UPND) to refrain its members from fighting because violence will force people to stay away from voting in the Mangango parliamentary by-election.
Commenting on the violence which has broken out in Mangango ahead of the by-election scheduled for August 19, Dr Katema said Government is disturbed that political cadres are committing acts of criminality, including invading the residence of Chiefs and Traditional Affairs Deputy Minister Josephine Limata.
The cadres, who are damaging property while armed with machetes, knives and stones, are also reported to have attacked Luampa district commissioner Alfred Miyato and beat up Chief Mwanatete and his wife.
“Government is concerned that this culture of violence is being condoned by certain senior opposition politicians who are not condemning these criminal acts. It is sad that these politicians still want to practise medieval politics of violence instead of selling their candidates and parties to the electorate,” Dr Katema said. “Government will not stand by and watch the mayhem continue in Luampa and other areas. Perpetrators of violence, regardless of their political leanings or stand in society, will face full impact of the law as our role is to protect all citizenry.”
During a media briefing after touring Mangango where a discussion forum was held for aspiring candidates on Saturday, FODEP executive director McDonald Chipenzi said politics of confrontation should come to an end.
“FODEP is at a loss to appreciate the political and electoral rivalry between the PF and UPND because the records of their violent clashes are open for everyone to see.
“In this regard, we strongly condemn the violent confrontation between the two and we demand an end to this style of politics,” Mr Chipenzi said.
He said the PF and UPND had condemned violence in their public statements.
“Political leadership is lacking in stopping the violence because leaders do condemn but also tolerate people involved in those activities. Why can’t they expel those people involved?” Mr Chipenzi asked. “If nothing is done, then the 2016 general elections are threatened with heightened political confrontation and violence.”
He advised the police not to only aim at pursuing suspected perpetrators of violence but find lasting solutions to the root cause of such conduct.
“The police should at all times try to be fair enough when applying the law. The Anti -Corruption Commission (ACC) should also intensify its hunt for the perpetrators of electoral corruption,” said Mr Chipenzi.
Meanwhile, the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) is concerned with reports of an increase in intolerance and violence from political parties participating in the by-elections.
ECZ public relations manager Chris Akufuna said it is the duty of all political leaders to promote tolerance and peace that would set the tone for a level playing field for free and fair elections.
“Let us remember that there is no other way of choosing leaders to political office than through elections. Therefore, elections are here to stay. Elections should not be synonymous with violence,” Mr Akufuna said
He urged the police to ensure perpetrators of violence and those that abrogate the Electoral Code of Conduct are firmly dealt with irrespective of political affiliation.