WE have got the manpower who can deal with all this lawlessness in a split of seconds, says home affairs minister Stephen Kampyongo.
He has since ordered police to heed the clarion call from President Edgar Lungu and himself to take affirmative action in dealing with lawlessness in the country.
“So we are going to tighten, we are going to tighten because, as they say, desperate situations call for desperate measures. We can’t allow this to escalate beyond what it is now. It’s already a danger and we cannot sit and allow it to go beyond what we have noticed,” Kampyongo said in reference to the emerging gun culture. “…I also want to warn those who are still agitating and thinking that they would want to continue engaging in lawless activities, we are following the activities.”
Below is the transcript of Kampyongo’s interview when he featured on the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation 19:00 hours news segment on Tuesday:
Newscaster Nabwalya Vlahakis:… issues to do with incidences of political violence. Honourable minister, welcome to our studios.
Kampyongo: Thank you so much, Nabwalya, and I’m glad to be here.
Vlahakis: Well, the first thing we would like to find out is that there appears so much intolerance on the political scene. And this is evidenced from the cadres clashing by shooting at each other and hacking each other with machetes like the incident that happened in Kaoma recently. What is your take on this?
Kampyongo: Nabwalya, my take on this is that it’s indeed regrettable. But we have been talking about these matters over and over, but it seems people don’t seem to heed. The incidences you have referred to in Kaoma, for example, we have said let people not move from other areas to go in areas where by-elections are taking place. For example, we have been discouraging people to move from Lusaka to go in numbers into areas such as Kaoma, like it happened. You saw the gentleman who regrettably lost or whose life was lost, only to be found that he was from Lusaka. Was he supposed to be in Kaoma? The answer is definitely no. And now what we are saying as the ministry is that I think we have debated these matters enough. It’s time for some affirmative action. And so apart from making sure that the police get to the bottom of what transpired in Kaoma, we have requested that the Zambia Police Service across the rank and file, starting from the command have to hear the clarion call from the Commander-in-Chief and indeed from the ministry that they need to take affirmative action. And that’s why in Parliament you heard me acknowledging the lapses that were regrettably witnessed because if there was proper coordination, the police in a normal circumstance would have not allowed the procession that we witnessed of people who disrespected the dead and decided to go into lawless activities as a way of handling that burial procession.
The regrettable incidence of the death will be dealt with through the investigations that will be carried to deal with all these theories that have emanated from the incidence. It takes professional police to go in there. We have heard all the versions of the stories but now everybody should remain calm and allow the police to get to the bottom of the matter.
Nabwalya: Let’s talk about this gun culture. Where is it coming from and how is government hoping to address it?
Kampyongo: First of all, not only the gun is regulated. Selling, trading of firearms, small and large ammunition is regulated. And, probably what could have been happening may be is they have been relaxation in terms of enforcing the regulations that are there. So, what we are saying now, first of all we have to make sure that we do an audit of who is owning what? And is it illegitimately owned? To the dealers we are also saying we are going to engage them and make sure that the quarters that they are given are followed, and we collectively agree on the way forward. This will also entail reconciling the records that the police have and those of the local authorities who also have a mandate to renew and keep records of those that own firearms. So we are going to tighten, we are going to tighten because, as they say, desperate situations call for desperate measures. We can’t allow this to escalate beyond what it is now. It’s already a danger and we cannot sit and allow it to go beyond what we have noticed.
Vlahakis: How soon do you go on the ground?
Kampyongo: We are already on the ground, and I’m sure you must have seen the Inspector General, acting Inspector General of Police Mr Sibote today, dating the media, where he shared with the media what they’re going to do in terms of measures to be put in place. And I think the message from the Ministry of Home Affairs which was given by our spokesperson was very clear in terms of what we intend to do. So, it will not be business as usual, you don’t just pick a gun without following the regulations. And the law is, now, for you to renew your licence we must interrogate and see how suitable you are still to continue owning that firearm.
Vlahakis: Finally, honourable, the public appears to be under threat as was seen last week during a UPND funeral procession, which brought business to a standstill in the central business district, what is your comment?
Kampyongo: Again, regrettable. And that’s why I was saying we as a ministry acknowledge the lapses because I think we could have done better in terms of not allowing that lawlessness to be tolerated to the levels it reached. And it’s not a question of manpower, I know that we’ve competent and well-trained officers who were beefed up. Just recently you saw me commissioning more than 1,500 from all our different schools: Kamfinsa Public Order Maintenance School, Lilayi, and also Paramilitary. So we have got the manpower who can deal with all this lawlessness in a split of seconds. But there was lack of coordination and those are the lapses I was regretting, and I’m assuring the members of the public because the innocent citizens who were inconvenienced during that procession have cried. And we have got a responsibility as government to make sure that the role they’ve given us to protect them and ensure that there’s peace throughout is the way to go.
Vlahakis: Home affairs minister, thank you for your time.
Kampyongo: Thank you very much, and I also want to warn those who are still agitating and thinking that they would want to continue engaging in lawless activities, we are following the activities. The NGOs that are meeting under dark corners we are now monitoring and we are going to ensure that those planned activities… My only is… please don’t say you were not warned. Those who are intending to engage in lawless activities on the Day of Prayer and the following week when we are supposed to be commemorating Independence, you will have yourselves to blame.
Vlahakis: Thank you so much for your time.
Kampyongo: Most appreciated.