The Zambia Council for Social Development (ZCSD) commends the Head of State, His Excellence Mr. Edgar Chagwa Lungu on the call for prayers before 11th August, 2016. This is necessary considering the deteriorating political environment. We are hopeful that all stakeholders will be willing to take party and shake hands with each other as a way of demonstrating that Zambia is not going for war but for elections to merely elect leaders to govern the country.The president’s call must follow with practical actions to end political violence that has intruded the Zambian society at all levels. It is clear that His Excellence Mr. Edgar Chagwa Lungu is getting into the 11th August, 2016 Elections as the most powerful candidate since independence as he did not heed to the public call and demand not to allow ministers to operate beyond the parliament which was dissolved on the 11th May, 2016.
The keeping of ministers who are political in nature as opposed to ministers appointed from outside parliament (which was the spirit of the new constitution) during elections campaigns has potential to threaten peace and is an attempt to hold on power beyond election as no clear defining date has been given in the constitution as to when such ministers would hand over power in case of a Re-Run Election.
At this point some ministers would have been reelected and declared as Members of Parliament and others would have lost elections but will still be serving as ministers and campaign for incumbent president. This already has created unfair electoral environment and is a good motivation and source of hatred from other political players.
With good pronouncements currently coming from the Head of State, the nation must deal with the diverse drivers of violence that includes among others: biased application of law by the police, hate speech, political intolerance, manning of markets and bus station by political cadres, the unfair media coverage from the public media who have engaged in airing documentaries of rallies for one particular political party during News as if other political parties are not campaigning or even exist anywhere in this country.
To this end we wish to call upon the president to:
1. Immediately revoke the appointment of both Cabinet and Deputy Ministers on moral grounds. It is not too late for the president to do a right thing! This will enable the civil service to operate independently; without the due influence of those that might have political inclination and interest in the operations of key sectors especially those responsible for maintaining peace and security of the country including the freedom of media. This action will also help build confidence and leveling the playing field and reduce on the speculations for abuse of public resources for campaigns as ministers are currently playing duo roles (Monitoring public Projects and holding rallies) which is a recipe for abuse of Tax Payers’ money;
2. Strongly direct the Councils to fully repossess markets and bus stations across the country from political cadres and ensure that police take vigil of public places infested by political cadres;
3. Denounce unfair media coverage mainly by the public media institutions and encourage the private media to follow suit. Unfair media coverage has created hatred among the public with divergent views and this has contributed to violence; and
4. Strongly and sincerely direct the police service to undertake its mandate justly and protect the lives of all citizens regardless of one’s political affiliation before some members of the public take the law in their hands and defend rights being deprived by biased state institutions.
The Head of State is a principal actor in ending current political violence and he could do better to go beyond pronouncements made on the rallies or during courtesy calls but also to act decisively and call to action both state and non-state agencies.
Thank and God bless you
ZCSD Executive Director