YOTAM Mtayachalo says the PF government is setting a very dangerous precedent of firing or retiring police officers in Sesheke on account of their engagement they had with PF cadres.
In a statement issued yesterday, Mtayachalo stated that the move might give rise to unruly behaviour and uncontrolled political violence by ruling party cadres because they would consider themselves insulated from any form of punishment.
“First and foremost, I want to react to the statement which was issued last week by information minister and chief government spokesperson Hon Dora Siliya in which she informed the nation that the government shall discipline police officers who beat up unruly PF cadres in Sesheke in the just ended parliamentary by-election. The statement by the minister was premature and predetermined because what was expected was that the government would have instituted a thorough investigation over the matter to establish what really led to police action instead of it acting in an emotional and irrational manner,” he stated.
Mtayachalo stated that the government’s decision to fire the police officers was sad.
He said the government action was extremely sad, uncalled for and unjust.
“It is my considered view that it must reconsider its action because it is too punitive or harsh as a more lighter punishment should have been considered. The PF government would also be setting a very dangerous precedent of firing or retiring police officers in Sesheke on account of the engagement they had with PF cadres as the move may give rise to unruly behaviour and uncontrolled political violence on the part of party cadres
from the ruling party because they will consider themselves insulated from any form of punishment,” he stated.
Mtayachalo stated that the firing of the police officers would discourage the police from discharging their duties effectively.
“Moreover, the police will now fear to deal effectively with the insurgency of political violence which has marred our political arena, especially if such violence is coming from PF cadres for fear of losing their jobs.
I’m not in any way supporting the disproportionate use of force by police on citizens. However, my concern as a patriotic Zambian arises from failure by the government to take similar action when police have brutalised opposition members and other citizens. Further, I’m taken aback that to date the government has not acted against some police officers and PF cadres who attacked and fired live ammunition at HH [Hakainde Hichilema] and his entourage during a lawful campaign meeting in Sesheke. Neither has it issued any statement condemning that barbaric act which in my understanding amounts to playing of double standards,” he stated.
Mtayachalo, a senior member of the FDD, appealed to the civil society and the church to speak for the vulnerable police officers.
“Furthermore, the police have on many occasions used maximum force on university students like the recent student protest at the Great East Road campus in Lusaka which resulted into the death of a female student but no officer has been penalised over the matter apart from establishing an inquest which may just be a window
dressing exercise,” he said.
Mtayachalo appealed to the labour movement, the church and civil society organisations, who are suppose to stand for the downtrodden and the voiceless in society, to come to the defence of the police officers retired in national interest.
“In conclusion, I also feel that time has come for police officers to fight for the repeal of Section 5 sub section(2) of the Industrial and labour relations Act Cap 269 of the Laws of Zambia which bars security personnel from becoming members of a trade union of their choice or forming a trade union to represent their interests because police officers have become endangered species at the hands of politicians and in fact, in countries like South Africa, Germany and several others such trade unions are working normally without compromising the security of the nation provided that police officers shall not go on strike,” said Mtayachalo.