As Zambia prepares for its general elections in August, Bishop Evans Chinyemba of Mongu Diocese has called upon authorities in the country to act decisively against political violence and hooliganism perpetrated by youths and party cadres.
For Bishop Chinyemba, political cadres, especially those of the ruling Patriotic Front (PF) Party, now control markets, bus stations, and taxi ranks in the cities. He has charged that even the Zambian Police don’t seem to be able to control the cadres. He warned: “If we take a serious look at the recent happenings in the political life of the nation, we realise that cadres have illegally been given the power to run anything under the sun. This power, which has been granted to cadres with the view of punishing political opponents and their supporters, will one day haunt the very political parties that gave them the power in the first place”.
Violence at the hands of unemployed bands of youths, who do the bidding on behalf of politicians, is a trend that has been growing in Zambia. All political parties have such a youth wing, whose role is to intimidate opponents and non-compliant citizens. In March of this year, Zambia’s President, Edgar Lungu, in his capacity as head of the ruling PF Party, met with opposition politicians at the Anglican Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Lusaka for discussions aimed at reducing political violence perpetrated by cadres. A declaration was signed at the end of the talks, but since then there has been nothing much to show for an improved political climate: for cadres, it is business as usual.
Bishop Chinyemba has admonished citizens not to sit back and allow the political situation of their country to deteriorate. He reiterated his advice that whenever the rule of law prevails, communities live in peace.
“Why should we continue to tolerate the illegal power which cadres seem to have? Are our political leaders afraid to take this power back for fear of losing political popularity? Let our message be that power is subject to the rule of law.”