You don’t convince people using sticks, fists or whatever for them to vote for you, we want ideas, says Lusaka Diocese Archbishop . And Mpundu says those in political leadership are practicing Stone Age politics by failing to condemn violence being perpetrated by their followers. Meanwhile, the Archbishop says Zambians are being short-changed by politicians in top leadership who maintain that the country is peaceful when they are failing to stop political violence.
In an interview, Archbishop Mpundu said although political violence has been in existence since the colonial era, there has been no political will especially from the top administrative leadership to stop the ugly acts. “If your top political leadership is committed to nonviolence, they will take all the steps necessary to prevent that violence. In 2010, we had the Mufumbwe by-election and I was on record to say that ‘if this is a dress rehearsal of what is going to happen next year’, meaning in 2011, ‘then we are in for a rough time’. This shouldn’t happen; these are Stone Age politics when you are using brutal violence. You don’t convince people using sticks, fists and whatever, whatever…we want ideas. The electorate must hear ideas of how to take the country forward and not physical force because that is Stone Age politics,” Archbishop Mpundu said.
“When we are saying political violence didn’t begin yesterday, we go back to independence time. Very few people were there and they think violence began yesterday. No, it began before independence when at the time our nationalists differed, one led by Harry Mwaanga Nkumbula. The African National Congress and UNIP were always at loggerheads and violence was there. Now this violence is generated by certain people and this violence is conceived and carried out with the knowledge of the top leadership.”
He explained that after independence, violence continued between the ANC and UNIP and in 1968, there was a new political party that was formed on the Copperbelt called United Party, led by Nalumino Mundia. “This party was spreading like wild fire. Now the political leadership in the administration of UNIP, what did they do? They sent vigilantes to bring about trouble, beat up people and so on and said ‘it must be the new party causing this violence’, so it was proscribed. In 1971, the UPP under Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe was formed again and the same method from UNIP was used to label it violent and so it was proscribed. Kapwepwe at one time was vice-president of Zambia and was beaten up in Kabwata and we didn’t hear any public condemnation of that, let alone an apology. That is how it has been all the time,” Archbishop Mpundu recalled. “Now we have come out of one party state, we had cadres sending people by air. This is primitive. If there is political will from the top political leadership, this [violence] can be stopped!”
And Archbishop Mpundu said the police should operate professionally and that anyone engaged in violence should be arrested and jailed for their dastardly acts. “…let the police do their job professionally without giving a preference to anybody. If you break the law, you should be made to face the law and that is that. Violence has been endemic in Zambian politics much to our shame and when this shame comes in, follows our politicians wherever they go, they say Zambia is a peaceful country. We are being short-changed. How can there be a peaceful country if they allow political violence? No!” said Archbishop Mpundu.
“This is the message that all church leaders, and particularly us as Zambia Episcopal Conference, try to proclaim time and again, in season and out of season: no political violence. It’s primitive, it’s criminal and anybody involved in this vice must be followed and prosecuted and put behind bars.”