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Abuse of Police Powers Must be Condemned

The nation went to prayers on October 18, 2019. Politicians, together with their Pentecostal benefactors, gathered to pray very profoundly about the country. But before we could even say Amen – the Zambia Police unleashed unjustifiable violence on a citizen of Zambia and his supporters. Harry Kalaba was busy addressing a rally in Samfya when the Zambia Police showed up with teargas, bullets to disrupt his meeting.

In our democracy, there should be no reason why the Police Command should be wasting taxpayers’ bullets and teargas to chase Harry Kalaba out of Samfya. Bullets and teargas should be for criminals and not ordinary citizens. We must not be tired to remind each other frequently of the sacrosanct liberties we have decided to enjoy as a people. Power corrupts. We must be clear from the outset that eroding our constitutional rights as citizens of our beloved country is a serious issue that we as a people should condemn with the contempt it deserves.

This nation was formed with a clear goal in mind: to be a free people united under the banner of One Zambia One Nation. The slogan of “amayendele muno Zambia” was the battle cry at independence. What this means is that any citizen of our country does have the liberty to travel anywhere across the length and breadth of our homeland. Amayendele means Harry Kalaba can go where he wishes to go. He cannot get lost. It is his country. Amayendele means Samfya is Kalaba’s Zambia just like Mazabuka is his. Amayendele means a native of Milenge can freely roam in Mwinilunga. Amayendele means we do not need police permits and passes to go and pay homage to Mpezeni, Chitimukulu or Gawa-Undi. Unless a court of law restricts Harry Kalaba, there is no way that Police Command should be sending armed police to tear gas a citizen away from Samfya. Kalaba is not a mouse that needs to be smoked out of a hole. He is certainly not a rabid dog that needs to be quarantined. It makes absolutely no sense that the Zambia Police should take pride in restricting the constitutional liberties enjoyed by free people.

As a citizen of this country, Harry Kalaba has the freedom to hold and promote his political opinions. He should be free to air those opinions. It is up to the people of Samfya to decide whether they will believe Harry Kalaba or not. It is not up to Police Command to decide for us what the people of Samfya want. Certainly, it is not up to the Police High Command to determine for the people of Malambo which candidate is to be believed. That being the case, it is concerning that the Police would so imprudently decide to interfere in what should be left for the people to determine.

Ordinary folks are the primary defenders of democracy. Regardless of how strong or weak institutions of democracy are, it takes the will and resolve of a people to strengthen their stake in democracy. Zambians fought for freedom in 1964. Zambians fought for equality in 1991. When faced with the prospect of a Third Term, Zambians hooped together again and fought for justice in 2001. President Lungu should never make the mistake of assuming that Zambians will give up on democracy in 2019. We have stated in this column, and we do restate it: Zambians have tasted the beautiful fruit begotten by the tree of freedom. Having found it to be so sweet, Zambians are unwilling to revert to the ruthlessness and senselessness of the rotten shrub of dictatorship.

The Police Command should hold allegiance to the government of the day, only as the custodians of the administrative state delegated to them by the people. Our system of government is such that elected officials oversee, within the confines of the law, both the civil service and the security apparatus. This is done so that there may be law and order in our country. This is also done so that these security officials may at the command of politicians protect Zambia from internal and external enemies. It is ridiculous to stop Harry Kalaba as if he were an enemy of the State. We need soldiers and armies not to harass citizens but to protect citizens. The Police Command should be sending police to facilitate Harry Kalaba’s safety in Samfya instead of sending armed paramilitaries to smoke him out of Samfya.

Instead of focusing so much on Harry Kalaba, President Lungu should concentrate on putting measures in place to control inflation and strengthen the value of the Zambian Kwacha, which is over. The country is experiencing severe hunger, and load-shedding and a serious president would take that as an emergency instead of sending soldiers to victimise the innocent.

The author can be reached at elias@munshyalaw.com

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