CORNELIUS Mweetwa says witty Zambians are beginning to deduce that current alarming happenings in the country are being sponsored by the PF government.
And Mweetwa says there is no logic in giving the police more powers before the service runs out of already existing powers.
From time to time, senior government officials and ruling PF functionaries have jumped to conclusions that fires in selected parts of the country were acts of “local terrorism”.
When Lusaka’s City Market caught fire on July 4, home affairs minister Steven Kampyongo and Vice-President Inonge Wina rushed to the scene where they inferred that the inferno was started by people who were after political power.
But Mweetwa, the Choma Central UPND member of parliament and party deputy spokesperson who featured on Muvi TV’s The Assignment programme on Sunday evening, explained that some brainy citizens could not fall for well calculated government misinformation.
Right now, schools of thought are beginning to emerge as to really what is happening in this country. In 1996 under the MMD, there was a programme which many people know; it was called Black Mamba where there were bombs all over. You were told ‘oh! A bomb has now blasted flats at Northmead; oh! Another bomb at the airport…’ [But] to date, this country has never been told who were behind the bombs but Zambians have concluded that Zero Option and Black Mamba were state-sponsored programmes to create fear in the minds of the citizens and using that fear, the citizens should subscribe themselves and begin to worship even wrongdoing by the State,
This programme now of the security situation and City Market being burnt, people are beginning to suspect that isn’t this another state programme? They (government officials) are talking about terrorism; isn’t this state-sponsored programme in order to justify the invocation of laws that take away the freedoms of the people so that the police can stop anybody? You know Zambians are very intelligent people; you can be in government today, the same way MMD was in government and you muzzle, stifle and abuse the government-controlled media in order to project a particular agenda so that people see you in good light as a government.
He recalled that when Parliament was debating the approval of the 2017 national budget, the yellow book had a huge but suspicious amount of money given to the police in provinces deemed to be UPND strongholds – Central, North-Western, Western and Southern provinces.
“We questioned and said why are you putting colossal sums of money on public order? Is there a threatened security situation you know which we don’t know so that as we approve [the national budget] we know what to expect? We didn’t get a clear answer as to why they (PF) were doing it,” Mweetwa noted.
“Before the burning of City Market, we heard statements that Zambia will be under attack not too long from now. If you know that we are going to be under attack, first of all, don’t you take precautionary measures because to be forewarned is to be forearmed?”
And Mweetwa, a former police officer, observed that President Edgar Lungu’s move to invoke Article 31 of the Republican Constitution was done “too early.”
When you talk about this threatened state of emergency, I think that the government acted too early to invoke Article 31 because as a country, we have sufficient laws already to take care of the security situation of this country. We have enough laws already; the Penal Code deals with all these offences that the police can find somebody wanting. Our contestation is not that this law (Article 31) should not be used; what we are saying is that there is already enough law to be used,
Mweetwa said .
“You ask to give the police more powers before the police run out of powers! The police already have sufficient powers – they don’t need more powers. What police needs is empowerment and not (extra) powers…I’m speaking as a former superior officer in the Zambia Police; I know the capacity of the Zambia Police to deal with any situation. For many years in this country, as an example, Chibolya was said that it’s a no-go area for police; they can’t go in to deal with people dealing in illicit drugs there. But when a decision was made for police to move in, you saw what happened! Police have enough manpower and enough resources within themselves to deal with a situation Zambia finds itself [in].”
He began his hour-long interview by stressing that UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema, who has been in prison for more than three months now on a charge of treason, was deeply touched by the fire that gutted City Market.
“Allow me to begin our debate in earnest by first acknowledging that on Friday (July 14), I visited HH (Hichilema) at Mukobeko Maximum Prison and through him and the entire party, we as UPND take this opportunity to offer our deepest and hearty sympathies to the many traders at City Market who lost millions in their property that was gutted,” said Mweetwa.
“[Also] allow me to summon my conscious and the good and well wishes and thoughts of millions of Zambians in remembering HH in the dark walls of Mukobeko Maximum Prison where he has been held in captivity. We remember him as we debate, as we live; whatever we do every day! May the good Lord who never goes to sleep continue to watch over him.”