DIOCESE of Mongu Bishop Evans Chinyama says the cadre behaviour of the police in Zambia is not inspiring as they have now become mercenaries of human rights.
And Bishop Chinyemba says the private media in Zambia is being sent into silence, citing the closure of The Post and harassment of The Mast.
In his April reflections of the Drumbeat, a publication of the Mongu Diocese, Bishop Chinyemba expressed disappointment at police’s continued use of force on innocent citizens and the unfair application of the Public Order Act to disadvantage the opposition political parties in the nation, especially those that are not in alliance with the ruling party.
“This culture has been with us for a long time now and it is still allowed to continue even in this age when we have what is called ‘democracy’. Is Zambia already in the state of emergency to have the police use force in this way? The cadre behaviour of the police force is not inspiring at all. We are witnesses to the culture of force of the police. The name Police Force was changed to Police Service in good faith. Now it seems the exterior change in name did not change interior of the institution. With the way the police have behaved in recent past, we need to revert back to calling this department as Police Force because that is what it is. In fact the police can also be termed mercenaries of human rights in a country that is supposed to be a democracy,” Bishop Chinyemba stated.
He stated that the sniffing around of the security wings on individuals who seemed to air their views on national issues was leading many people into silence, hence robbing the nation of valuable contributions that makes for national governance.
Bishop Chinyemba stated that the culture of silence which was developing in the nation was one that would create a future dictatorship.
“We are witnesses to this. We have seen and we have heard. This culture of silencing genuine debate on national issues should be discouraged. In my interaction with the people in my pastoral engagement in the diocese I hear that most people are intimidated and threatened to remain silent on events that are happening. There is a feeling that when people speak out on what they feel is not going on well in the nation, they will lose their employment if they were civil servants or they will be arrested,” he stated.
It is seen even in noble programs or commissions that are sanctioned by government. Recently, there was a commission gathering the views of citizens whether Zambia should remain in the ICC or pull out. How many civil servants in the diocese went and presented their views to the commissioners who were rightly commissioned by the government? This programme, if I am not mistaken, was left to civil society and other individuals who are not civil servants. The majority of those in civil service and are knowledgeable with what ICC is decided to remain silent.
Bishop Chinyemba urged patriotic Zambians who had lived through the deadly One Party State to reject the culture of silencing people.
“Should Zambia continue to remain silent and watch the private media being silenced and sent into oblivion? The silencing of private media will not stop and it continues even today…In fact with the capture of The Post newspaper by ZRA and the government, we see the death of private print media. Government institutions have been unleashed on Fred M’membe and The Post newspaper. The same behaviour is also directed to The Mast newspaper,”
Banabahesu in the diocese, as I reflected with you in March, 2017, I say this again, ZRA and the government’s take on Fred M’membe and The Post Newspaper was not done in good faith.
Bishop Chinyemba also condemned the act of revenge in Zambia saying a Christian nation was not built on acts of revenge.
He noted that a tax reconciliation programme which was not politically motivated could have left both The Post an Zambia Revenue Authoritiy (ZRA) happy, yet political vengeance was allowed to come into play.
To this end, let me quote the Fivefold are Crimes as outlined by an Old Irish Law: The crime of the hand, by wounding or stealing; The crime of the foot, by kicking or moving to do evil deeds; The crime of the tongue, by satire, slander or false witness; The crime of the mouth, by eating stolen things; The crime of the eye, by watching while an evil deed is taking place. What have we seen and heard?
Bishop Chinyemba asked.
He further stated that the nation could not remain silent on the abuse of democracy by the public media which was supposed to cover every Zambian who needed to tell their stories.
In my experience, the trend of using ZNBC and other public media which are Zambian taxpayers’ institutions for one-sided news is retrogressive. Why should these national and public media outlets only cover the ruling party and opposition political parties that support the ruling party? The other opposition political parties are only covered in bad light? Is this the democracy Zambia wanted in 1991? This is what we have seen and heard, and we are witnesses to all these. Every political party that comes into power does the same. We saw this trend in UNIP,
stated Bishop Chinyemba.
“We witnessed it in MMD. Now we see it being enforced by PF. And I am sure another political party that will come after PF will continue with the same trend. Is it not time that we changed the outlook of the public media instead of using it as if we were already in a one-party state? I believe that the current government can create a legacy if the covering policy of the public media is changed, the future will live to remember them.”