The video currently circulating on the social media, in which PF carders are stoning a UPND campaign team and bus raises questions as to the effectiveness of all the meetings held and commitments made towards holding peaceful elections. The impunity with which the attack in the video was executed and tolerated is a stark reminder of the total decay of law and order in our homeland.
It should by now be clear, even amongst those that gave the PF leadership an element of doubt, that violence has been cultured as the language and pathway to electoral victory. Zambian society and its petty bourgeois politics will find it very hard to root out political violence in the short and medium term. The Electoral Commission of Zambia and other relevant public institutions will increasingly find it hard, if not impossible, to assert their credibility and authority. It is a harsh and sad reality.
It is very annoying and disgusting to see one’s country being torn apart in this manner. As if endemic poverty, diseases and hunger were not enough, the ever-increasing levels of political violence exacerbate the misery of the Zambian masses. Of course political violence is in itself a reflection of failures in other social-economic spheres, but it also acts as a catalyst that worsens existing problems: it adds to overall morbidity and mortality, it is a dis-incentive for economic activities, it fragments society and communities and erodes the cohesion that is required for long term stability. Economists would say violence is a “zero-sum game”. There is no winner. The entire Zambian society is losing out.
Watching that video, I asked myself as to what message it is sending to the opposition political parties and their supporters? What will it take for those being attacked to effectively defend themselves? Will the wider Zambian society continue to sit and watch the mayhem taking place in their backyards? The answer is straightforward: Those at the receiving end of violence will not sit back and accept their fate. They will prepare. They will form militias. They will get drilled in close combat and how to neutralise opponent mobs. Many a time, such militias will target even the innocent masses. The borderline to an open armed insurgency is very thin under such circumstances. Sadly enough, our homeland is moving along this trajectory.
Another worrying aspect is that the majority of the youth that are perpetrating violence belong to the “lost generation” that has grown up under the neo-liberal capitalist Zambia of the past 25 years. These are the age groups up to 35 years. The past 25 years have been the darkest period in our history with the quality of public education, health and social amenities at their lowest levels. Children that grew up on the street, without love and care, without proper education and with no prospects for jobs have now found a living in being the “security wings” of political parties. Society at large is therefore getting a payback of the misinformed neoliberal capitalist policies. We are reaping what we sowed and we will continue along this path so long neo-liberal capitalism continues to retain a stronghold on the Zambian state.