opinionBy Evans Mulenga
Dark days continue to linger over Zambia as the country's democracy continues to come under threat of violence and lack of tolerance being perpetrated by the regime of President Michael Sata's Patriotic Front.
The happenings in Livingstone, Zambia's tourist capital, over the past few days are capabale of degenerating into something much worse if the PF, as a ruling party, do not stop provoking their opponents in Thursday's parliamentary by-election and beyond. All signs are there to indicate that Sata's PF has been intimidating and provocative tactics in all that they do, by-election or not.
Today Zambia has woken up to a not so surprising shock, that one person has died as a result of clashes between the PF and United Party for National Development (UPND) cadres on Monday night. A Lusaka-based PF cadre only identified as "Chanda" is believed to have been killed by UPND cadres after PF supporters tried to torch the UPND camp situated along Livingstone's airport road. According to eyewitnesses, the PF cadres launched all sorts of incendiary projectiles at the UPND camp situated in the Mosi-o-tunya area.
Surely, did the PF expect the UPND to just watch or perhaps scamper in all directions without defending themselves? There is little doubt that these PF cadres were under strict instructions - to provoke, provoke, provoke until violence is achieved. The loss of life, however, is regrettable. But it squarely lies upon the PF to stop all this non-sense by caging their cadres.
We cannot delude ourselves into thinking that this tragic death of the young man was accident, nor was the tragic death Menyani Zulu during the Rufunsa local elections some months ago. We cannot have a government that pays dozens of youths to board buses in Lusaka to travel to a community where they do not live, give them alcohol and weapons, and tell them to go fight the opposition. The fact that violent deaths result is not an accident, it is a PF policy - one that is personally approved and endorsed by President Sata.
The trouble is they have the likes of Sylvia Masebo as campaign manager, a woman thirsty for blood wherever she goes, as well as Obvious Mwaliteta, a thuggish looking character so nothing less than violence can be expected with these two in the PF campaign team. The UPND campaign team is led by a gentleman, Gary Nkombo who is Mazabuka member of parliament. As a true gentleman, he together with Request Muntanga and others, went to the Livingstone Police Station to report the attacks on his team by PF cadres in the hope of restoring peace. Instead, he only to ended up spending a night in police cells for attempting to quell the state-sponsored violence.
It is clear that the PF is focusing all its attention on these by-elections. Also in Livingstone are the likes of the notorious Defence Minister Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba (GBM) and Home Affairs Minister Edgar Lungu, Zambia's specialist in deportations of inconvenient opponents. It is worth noting here that all the PF ministers have gone to Livingstone with their own supporters from Lusaka and elsewhere so it may therefore not be far fetched to conclude that they are operating as rivals within their own camp for various reasons, but mainly to outdo each other in order to please the master, President Sata. They are working hard to provoke fights with UPND or MMD and since they really do not know each other, in the process may end up hacking and killing one another using the hundreds of pangas the PF bought to use against the MMD if they had lost in 2011.
What all Zambians should know is that Sata and the PF are so desperate to gain numbers in parliament and will stop at nothing to achieve that even if it means lives being lost in the process. So for as long as the PF is in power, there shall be more and more of what happened on Monday, night, the night of the long knives. Trouble is there are two more by- elections Kaipri Mposhi and Lukulu west and perhaps many more depending on what comes out of the petitions before the courts right now. We are in real trouble!