Young people in Zambia should not partake in political violence but need to be knowledgeable, responsible and accountable when it comes to political issues and campaigns says Stephen Shamazubaula
There is only one Zambia and that is not going to change.
Therefore, it doesn’t matter whether you are red, blue or any other colour of the political party. There is neither a Tonga, a Bemba, a Lozi, Chewa nor Ila but a Zambian. This is the reason why we all sing the Zambian national anthem and pledge to the country sheltering us all.
Ours is a close-knit community. We live together, borrow salt, mealie meal, matches, fire from one another and even share a common source of water. So, why should politics divide us? Why should it create enmity among us?
Political Violence and Young people in Zambia.
Young persons are the worst victims and most vulnerable to violence and political anarchy that happens in many parts of Africa including Zambia. This is because most unemployed people without stable income are the youths who are susceptible to political influence.
This makes young people both perpetrators and victims of violence.
For instance, in many parts of Zambia youths living in one camp are bribed by those powerful to instigate chaos and violence the other camps where other young people become the victims of the violence. Repeated exposure to violence leaves many young Zambians physically, emotionally and mentally scarred.
Trauma and impacts.
Political violence leads to not only physical damages and injuries to young people but also affects them mentally. While physical scars may fade away eventually, young victims of political violence often find it difficult to forget traumatic events leading to a lifetime of mental and emotional trauma.
Too much violence in Zambia’s political sphere risks causing excessive panic and fear among the citizens. This in turn affects the young political leaders especially women and those belonging to minority communities. This affects the youth participation rates in politics ultimately, decreasing it.
With less participation from young Zambians in politics, youths will not be able to take part in the important decision or policy-making of their country pushing them farther away from the country’s leadership and future.
Young Leadership is important.
In Zambia, most of the political positions are given to the elderly leaving young people in Zambia out of leadership. As per the latest reviews by World Population Prospects, Zambia has a predominantly young population with a median age slightly above 16. But these youths are not recognized for their leadership and are used only as the tools of violence to intimidate those who have different ideologies.
There is a common saying “imiti ikula empanga” which means young trees are the future forest or the young ones are the future leaders. Future leaders need to be trained in leadership and not made tools of violence subject to oppression due to their economic vulnerability.
It is imperative that leadership roles in specific positions be given to youths since they are the generation of change. Young leaders representing young persons would help the youth of the nation to positively get involved in the nation’s future.
Young people like us need to be responsible and accountable citizens when it comes to political issues and campaigns. We need to be accountable for the time we give, the words we say, our actions and our behaviours. Young people of Zambia should help in organising and maintaining peaceful campaigns to join hands in the fight to ensure free and fair elections and political processes. Violence is never the right way.
Additionally, young people should also be focused on other social issues that prevail in the community like teenage pregnancy, gender-based violence and so on.
Let’s learn to agree to disagree intellectually. Let’s learn to debate matters with facts and avoid the fabrication of issues. Let’s be professionals in our undertaking and avoid the proliferation of damaging information.
Shamazubaula Stephen is a graduate of the University of Zambia and a Research Monitoring Evaluation Accountability and Learning expert who has spent most of his career in the health, relief and development sectors of humanitarianism. He is passionate about adolescent health and human rights. He advocates for adolescent health and human rights especially in the area of good governance through writing.