The 2011 elections in Zambia have been predicted to become the bloodiest ever if the government does not put in place measures to stop violence, Colonel Panji Kaunda has warned. But in neighboring Zimbabwe, polls could be postponed to pave way for the completion of constitutional reforms.
Zambia is due for presidential elections with the incumbent Rupiah Banda running for his first full term as President after replacing Levy Mwanawasa, who died in August 2008 in a military hospital in France after suffering a stroke while attending an African Union (AU) summit in Egypt.
Although dates for the polls have not yet been announced, a bloody election due to a recent spate of politically motivated violence has been evoked.
“If government will not stop this violence, 2011 elections will be the bloodiest ever. We are going to lose lives, we are going to get massacred, and, in the end, this country will be destroyed as we have seen in other countries,” Col. Panji is quoted as saying on Monday.
“The onus of stopping violence is on the government. Few months ago, we had some cadres threatening to gang-rape Honourable Edith Nawakwi; nothing happened. We had cadres threatening to manhandle Bishop Duffy in Mongu; nothing happened.
“We had some cadres who even threatened to take the life of their own part,y former vice-president Enoch Kavindele; nothing happened.”
He said the government was condoning violence being perpetuated by the MMD cadres, for which some cadres should have been in jail by now.
But that country’s Independent Churches of Zambia (ICOZ) has said Zambians should not make the mistake of voting for wrong leaders and has since advised that Banda should be given another term if economic development is to be sustained.
ICOZ president David Masupa is quoted saying that Zambians should critically analyze the people who are offering themselves for leadership.
“As we enter into 2011, first of all, we would like to commend the Zambian people for their peace and maturity last year. Despite the small pockets of violence in Mufumbwe and Chifubu, the country was generally peaceful.
“This year being an election year, we would like Zambians to be reflective in choosing credible leaders. Zambians must ask themselves as to what they really want which the MMD hasn’t done,” he said.
In Zimbabwe, President Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party seemed to be pushing ahead with early elections this year, but recent statements from his party now suggest otherwise.
The Sunday Mail newspaper, which is tightly controlled by ZANU-PF officials at the weekend, said it was “not feasible to hold elections in the first half of 2011.”
Said the publication, “Sources yesterday (Saturday) said it was highly unlikely that the polls will be held before June, as the crafting of the new supreme law looks certain to spill into the second half of the year.”
President Robert Mugabe, who turns 87 in the month of February, says he is fed up with sharing power with his decade-long rival, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.
Despite the formation of a unity government in February of last year, President Mugabe’s loyalists remain in charge of the security forces.
In November last year, Zimbabwe’s police chief caused a storm when he warned that results of next year’s elections will be accepted only if the octogenarian ruler’s party wins.
“It’s a going to be a no-holds-barred election,” said Iden Wetherell, an AMH group senior associate editor and member of the Zimbabwe National Editor’s Forum.
He warned that Mr. Mugabe’s sympathisers were prepared to kill to ensure that the veteran ruler in power since Zimbabwe’s independence in 1980 wins the crucial vote.
Critics say that rushed polls without political reforms, including a new constitution guaranteeing basic rights, would only favor Mugabe and ZANU-PF, who have held power since independence from Britain in 1980.