Steven Kampyongo, the Minister of Home Affairs, says if it shall take killing people to preserve Zambia’s ‘peace’, “so it shall be”.
And David Mabumba, the Minister of Energy, has urged Kampyongo and the police to kill those who are burning down markets without taking them to court.
We have talked enough [and] it’s time for us to step our boots on the ground. Like I said, one tabloid quoted me saying people were going to be killed. Every situation calls for required force and if someone is sitting somewhere wanting to send their children and other people’s children to go and risk, they should be ready to pick up corpses from the pylons!
Kampyongo told Parliament.
Kampyongo’s statement frightened even first Deputy Speaker Catherine Namugala who had to order him to withdraw it. “I don’t think that the intention of this motion is for you Honourable minister to issue statements like that; that could scare the citizens,” said Namugala before Kampyongo stood to withdraw his statement.
Mabumba told Parliament that arsonists did not deserve to be taken to court. However, Namugala told him not to order the police to kill.
Do these people want to be sent to the International Criminal Court at The Hague? We pose this question because with these extrajudicial killings they are openly advocating, they are working their way there.
Their state of emergency is not a license to extrajudicial killings. They are for sure in total control and direction of judicial process in this country and can get away with extrajudicial killings, but they won’t be able to do the same at The Hague.
And by extrajudicial killing, also known as extrajudicial execution, we mean the killing of a person by governmental authorities without the sanction of any judicial proceeding or legal process. If they go ahead with these extrajudicial killings they are threatening or are advocating, charges against them will be filed in The Hague to try and bring accountability to some representatives of this tyrannical regime that is increasingly starting to draw very strong global criticism for its cruelty, brutality and ruthlessness. Without self-limitation and modesty, some of them may end up facing charges for crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court.
By calling for the extrajudicial killings of those they suspect to be involved in arson and the destruction of electricity pylons, they are helping to create an environment where murder is being promoted as an acceptable method of dealing with certain problems. They are actually lowering the political cost of murder. Kampyongo and Mabumba may not know the full consequences of their utterances. But their ignorance will not be a defence. And they may need to take Namugala’s advice very seriously. In their desire to address the self-created problems and challenges they are today facing, there’s need for them to avoid excessive zeal, illegal or criminal methods. They should also watch out for the demagogic ‘champions’, extremists, opportunists who tend to crop up in situations like these to gain attention.
This strongly asserted but ill-defined state of emergency license to kill and do whatever they want to a citizen without accountability is not an entitlement which they can have without doing grave damage to the rules designed to protect the right to life and prevent extrajudicial executions. We all know, deep down inside, it’s wrong to kill people in this way regardless of the crimes we suspect them to have committed. There’s nothing one can say to ever make it right. Killing is killing, no matter how you slice it. And the ones doing all the killing should be made to account; if not here, let them be taken to The Hague, and be forced to watch the country transform from this evil place they’ve created to the wonderful place they should be creating.
From our keen observation, it is a very sad fact that Zambia’s current political crisis has fully pressed the pedal of acceleration to more toxic division, hatred, violence and now there’s even very strong talk of extrajudicial killings and perpetual impunity.
We see this country whose governance used to be fully anchored on the rule of law being slowly transformed into a wilderness. We hear the approaching thunder that, one day, may destroy us all because if this country is not good for all of us to live in, it won’t be good for any of us to live in. We feel the fear and despair of many. And yet, when we look up at the sky, we somehow feel that everything will change for the better, that this cruelty too shall end, that peace and tranquility will return once more to our homeland.
Listening to Kampyongo and Mabumba, it’s very clear that we have very serious leadership weaknesses – brutality, cruelty, tyranny is becoming the order of the day. And weakness is what brings ignorance, cheapness, tribalism, regionalism, abuses of power, corruption, desperation, cruelty, brutality, all these things that will keep a society chained to the ground, one foot nailed to the floor. All cruelty springs from weakness. Cruelty is all out of ignorance. If you knew what was in store for you, you wouldn’t hurt anybody, because whatever you do comes back much more forceful than you send it out.
In the name of noble purposes, people have committed unspeakable acts of cruelty against one another. Cruelty towards others is always also cruelty towards ourselves. Cruelty might be very human, and it might be cultural, but it’s not acceptable.
The sanctity of life, the right to life is guaranteed to everyone under our Constitution and the international treaties to which Zambia is a signatory. The only derogation is the death sentence handed down by a competent court of law. And since 1990 or so, the death penalty has not been implemented in Zambia because of sanctity of life and international outcry against the medieval practice of retribution or the eye for an eye approach. So why should these people be allowed to make new derogations on the right to life through extrajudicial executions? At the international level, as signatories to numerous international treaties, and therefore as a responsible sovereign state, Zambia owes the international community valid explanations for derogating from internationally acclaimed rights and freedoms, and chief among them, the right to life.
The political orders being issued to the police should not be extrajudicial executions but to go out and hunt for the criminals, not to kill them but arrest them, if possible. The killing of crime suspects must be only in very exceptional circumstances when they confront police officers violently, and it’s either they kill them or they are killed.
The language coming from Kampyongo and Mabumba is indeed frightening. But it reveals the type of people we have in power. And with such people in charge, we should brace ourselves for extrajudicial executions and more and more brutality, cruelty and tyranny.