Africa / Democracy / Politics

The Truth? Death and Lies Overshadow Livingstone Election

Some people say if you repeat something often enough then it will become the truth. Imagine how shocking that is, because it exactly means, that our reality is only what we make out of this world. With other words, everybody just sees what he or she wants to see. Many stories can be told about one incident. But which one is true?

Livingstone is in the middle of an electoral campaign and somebody died. And when I say died I mean he actually lost his life. He is not going to see his family anymore; he is not going to campaign for his political party anymore.

We can ask ourselves, why nobody in Europe seems to care, why this news does not make the step to the so called developed world, while any bungee accident of a European tourist or anything of that sort will surely be reported. But the more important question is: What is the truth about this man’s death?

Version one:

On his way home my partner witnessed a political campaign truck stopping at the hospital.

Maybe this is a good point for a small site note into Zambian electoral laws.

When a member of parliament representing a certain district dies or leaves his mandate for any other reason by-elections have to be held. So it can happen that the country is in a continuous election campaign, throughout the ruling term in different parts of the country. So it happens that in three Southern Province districts elections had been scheduled last week.

That is why campaign trucks have been on the road. Again you can picture a typical African scenery. When you imagine this campaign truck, think of a normal truck, which has big speakers installed and lots of people loaded in the back. They will be wearing and waving their parties’ colours. The whole truck is usually very noisy. This way the different parties try to convince their voters to give their vote.

So why did this campaign truck stop at the hospital?

Here the search for truth begins. My partner has seen how a young injured guy was offloaded, still alive. Five minutes later he was declared dead. It looked like he was hit by a stone or something like that. The truck was mainly full of young people, he says, some women with small children, some even below two years.

So how does anybody get injured on a campaigning truck like that? (I am not going to debate here how parents can be irresponsible enough to be out campaigning in the evening hours, in the back of the truck with very small children).

The question is: How did he die?

People narrated that night, while driving around town they met a group of opposition supporters and they were throwing stones on the campaigning truck. One stone hit the head of the victim who bleeded to death.

That was the version my partner heard at the hospital.

Version two:

Later that night we read in a Zambian Online Newspaper that the same campaign truck was up for no good, as they had planned to burn down the opposition campsite. They thought all party members would be out, but instead they found them eating. Who is surprised, if this version would indeed be true, the others did not allow them to burn down their camp, but got into a fight. Things were thrown from both sides and something hit the man. He died.

Version three a):

A senior official of the ruling party got axed in Livingstone. That is what one of the national newspapers was reporting the next day.

Version three b):

Now a junior official got axed, this was reported again a day later. How did it happen? An opposition member jumped on the truck, axed him and jumped down again. He died on a Monday (February 25th 2013), the by-elections were supposed to take place on Thursday (February 28th 2013).

On Tuesday all heads of the opposition party were arrested, some other opposition members as well. It is said that more than 20 people have been arrested. More than 20 people killed one person on a truck full of people?

Sure is that in that nights riots broke out in Livingstone, the city centre was blocked. Many tourists left the town immediately and many more bookings had been cancelled the next day.

The same day Version four was published:

He did not die by the hand of an opposition member, but was killed by his own people. They only provoked some tension to make the opposition look guilty.

On Wednesday it was reported that the reason was money, which had not been distributed equally, as the deceased kept the major share.

Now one week later, Version five is out, which says he might have fallen from the truck and the fellow cadres wanted to cover this horrible accident.

The truth? I cannot tell. But look at all these stories and imagine a truck with young people, some women with children and also many drunk people.

On Wednesday February, 25th the opposition leader was in court. Even though the media first reported he should be charged for murder, they could not find enough reasoning for it, as he was giving an interview at a radio station, while whatever has happened, happened. He was set free again. Set free, like so many times before, when he got arrested or attacked by the government.

Also on Wednesday the Electoral Commission of Zambia decided to postpone the elections to March 14th, more than two weeks due to the outbreak of violence.

From that day onward Livingstone is quiet again. Still nine people are in the cells for murder, one Member of Parliament and eight others, of which one lady is 63 years old… now how was she jumping on the truck?

Elections are not yet done; we will see what is going to happen. One can only hope that this time all parties leave the campaigns to the Livingstonians, the people of this town who just want to see an honest representative for their interests in parliament. Somebody they can trust. They need to create trust for the candidates.

The crowds of cadres all parties had sent to Livingstone from all over the country did not help any of the parties to restore trust in the system.

Only tension and violence was the result.

Katharina S. 

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