By STEVEN ZANDE –
A MPIKA senior citizen has called on Zambians to respect the office of the President because the current situation where some people are disrespecting the Head of State has the potential to plunge the country into chaos.
Meanwhile, a social organisation dubbed Partnership Development for Sustainable Programmes (PDSP) has called for concerted efforts in promoting voter education among citizens to help curb voter apathy and regional voting.
Simon Mwalula, an 85-year-old former freedom fighter, told the Commission of Inquiry into Voting Patterns and Political Violence in Mpika yesterday that in the aftermath of independence in 1964, Zambians respected the presidency and this helped maintain unity and peace in the country.
“But what we see today is worrying because the current crop of politicians is not driving the country in the right direction,” Mr Mwalula said. “People are claiming they want freedom, but want to get freedom from who?”
The Commission held a public sitting at Wilmo Guest House in Mpika District yesterday.
Mr Mwalula said some political groupings’ calls on Zambians to reclaim their freedom was unfortunate and warned that such calls incited the people to rise against the Government, and that this should be discouraged to preserve peace and unity in the nation.
He said the number of political parties should be reduced so that only serious political parties were allowed to operate and this could help maintain law and order before, during and after elections.
Social group PDSP programmes manager Patrick Kabaso said the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ), political parties and relevant community-based organisations (CBOs) should strengthen voter education among Mpika residents so that more people could understand the importance of voting and this would help curb tribal voting.
Mr Kabaso said adequate voter education was crucial for people to understand the importance of voting as this would help them vote for those with leadership qualities.
More information among the electorate would help reverse the situation where only 20 per cent of registered Mpika residents cast their vote and that this would also straighten the recorded tribal voting patterns.
A retired Zambia Air Force (ZAF) officer Alfred Saaka called for a code of ethics that would ensure practical application of the ‘One Zambia One Nation’ motto because this was vital to ensure that Zambians treated each other equally regardless of tribal origins.
Mpika District Commissioner Moses Katebe in his opening remarks said there was a need for the Government to formulate legislation that would curb political violence and discourage voting based on tribal lines.
Mr Katebe said tribal voting was causing enmity among Zambians and this should be discouraged with a view to strengthening unity and peace in the country.
“Political differences should encourage constructive debate among us, so that through discussion, we can find means of fostering national development,” he said.