INSPECTOR General of Police Kakoma Kanganja has hinted that some “publications” will be closed down during the period of a threatened state of public emergency.
And Kanganja has revealed that the inferno that gutted Lusaka’s City Market on July 4 was as a result of deliberate ignition by “unscrupulous people with ill and pre-meditated intentions”, with over 11 suspects so far arrested in connection with the incident.
Briefing journalists at the Zambia Police headquarters in Lusaka this morning, Kanganja noted that the regulations in the Preservation of Public Security Act CAP 112 of the Laws of Zambia could be revised at any time.
During this period, police will regulate and prohibit publication and dissemination of matters [that are] pre-judicial to public safety, restriction and control of assemblies, control of movements, more especially during hours of darkness, apprehension and detention of suspected criminals beyond 48 hours, search of places without a warrant, to mention but a few,
So as we speak, there will be additions to what I have commented on. You will find [that] we’ll limit some of these publications, social media and the rest where people are abusing, we might end up limiting on those publications.
He stressed that now that police powers had been strengthened by the invocation of Article 31 of the Republican Constitution, the service had no reason to “fail” but would instead ensure that sanity, peace and order prevail in Zambia.
“However, it must be noted that I will not allow any abuse of these powers entrusted to us. Any officer who abuses this Act will be disciplined accordingly. Our public relations unit is trying its best to sensitise members of the public on what the invocation of Article 31 of the Constitution entails by way of programmes on radio and television,” Kanganja said.
Over a week ago, President Edgar Lungu signed SI 53 indicating that a situation existed that “may lead” to the declaration of a state of emergency in Zambia.
He then invoked Article 31 of the Constitution and the Preservation of Public Security Act Cap 112 of the Laws of Zambia that has given the police and the army more powers in enforcing the law according to guidelines the Head of State will give.
This pronouncement, which has since been approved by Parliament, which currently has the majority representation from the ruling PF since the suspension of 47 of UPND members of parliament, will also allow President Lungu to come up with regulations he deems fit as to decree, among others, prohibition of publications and dissemination of matters prejudicial to public security, and, to the extent necessary for that purpose, for the regulation and control of the production, publishing, sale, supply distribution and possession of publications; prohibition, restriction and control of assemblies; prohibition, restriction and control of residence, movement and transport of persons, the possession, acquisition, use and transport of movable property, and the entry to, egress from, occupation and use of immovable property.
Under the same Preservation of Public Security Act Cap 112 (3), “If the president is satisfied that the situation in Zambia is so grave that it is necessary so to do, he may, by statutory instrument, make regulations to provide for: (a) the detention of persons; (b) requiring persons to do work and render services.”
And on the fire that gutted City Market, Kanganja disclosed that preliminary investigations had indicated that the market was deliberately set ablaze.
“You may recall that the Lusaka City Market got burnt about a fortnight ago, to be precise on Tuesday, 4 July, 2017 at about 05:00 hours. Immediately, a team of experts from the Zambia Police Service, the Fire Brigade and Zesco was constituted to investigate the cause of fire. I wish to inform the nation that the findings of investigations undertaken so far by the team have revealed that the cause of fire was as a result of deliberate ignition by unscrupulous people with ill intentions and premeditated intentions,” Kanganja explained.
“This means that the investigations have eliminated the possibility of an electrical fault or accidental acts as the cause of the inferno. Therefore, this incident is purely an act of arson.”
He added that according to investigations, the fire started from stand number 238/239 in the yellow zone of City Market.
“The stand had no power for three days, including that fateful day,” claimed Kanganja, adding that more than 11 people have so been arrested in connection with incidences of fire.
Let me warn the perpetrators of these crimes that police will deal sternly with anyone found wanting or has intentions of being involved in acts of sabotage or indeed any form of crime. There will be no sacred cows, regardless of their political affiliation and status in society.