COUNCIL of Churches in Zambia general secretary Reverend Emmanuel Chikoya has asked political leaders to grow up and wise up if the country is to move forward.
He says there is no amount of power, taste for riches, or any other motive that justifies the taking away of innocent lives by means of spraying unknown substances in their homes, or any threat to their dignity.
Rev Chikoya said leaders should stop seeking political mileage from the current gassing attacks affecting the nation.
He also urged the police not to downplay the people’s legitimate concerns and fears as this has a tendency of leading to riotous and unruly behaviour by people.
“People are dying, innocent lives are being lost. Woe unto those that thrive or build their popularity on the blood of people. When people raise alarm for example, beginning from Chingola town, I did dash my presence in there, even paid a courtesy to the police command in Chingola. When people raise an alarm, respond with that kind of seriousness and commitment,” he said in an interview.
“The nation is where it is now because there was a bit of procrastination, a bit of dragging of feet, and, so leaders need to have very big, decisive, responses and accurate information shared.”
He called upon all leaders to unite and defend those they claim to lead.
“Let us stop the back and forth within our ranks at whatever level. Spread the message that is clear, condemn the violence, mob justice and cooperate with the law enforcers. It is not time for speculations. We feel this is not the time for our political leaders to blame one another at the expense of working together to find solutions to this challenge,” Rev Chikoya said.
“We expect our political leaders to put aside their differences and bring together their brains and expertise in curbing challenges such as this one. They may differ in the field of politics but when the country is faced with a challenge such as this one we expect them to work together. At the end of the day we have only one country, Zambia which we must all work hard to protect. We, therefore, need to see responsible statements from all political leaders. Now is the time to reason together from all political backgrounds. Let us all condemn this crime in unison and fight this to victory.”
He said he agonised when he saw senior political leaders claiming they had certain facts which they had been sitting on for a long time.
Rev Chikoya advised members of the public to stop meting out mob justice on others.
“One wonders, do you really love Zambia? We really need people to own up [and] be good stewards; good citizens that whatever information that is there is availed to the police and end these evil vices. Mob justice actually makes the nation be on the same level if not even lower than the very wicked people that are perpetrating these acts of criminality where people are being gassed,” Rev Chikoya said.
“Citizens should be vigilant; let’s control our anger and arrest the perpetrators by ensuring that they are taken into custody and allow the law to take its course on them. We should not kill anybody. To the churches out there, open up where people can be advised and try and serve as many lives as we can serve. Zambians can do it and we must do it by ending this vice.”
He further said: “We may not have any information on the motive behind the gassing of people’s homes but what we know is that there is no amount of power, taste for riches, or any other motive that justifies the taking away of innocent lives by means of spraying unknown substances in the comfort of their homes, or any threat to their dignity. We also have no doubt that those involved in this crime are doing it for money.”
Rev Chikoya appealed to citizens to allow the mandated institutions to do their work as opposed to taking the law into their hands.
“Let us not allow ourselves to be consumed by anger caused by the perpetrators of these heinous crimes because this will make us sink to a level lower than them. As the Church we are there to speak for you and advocate for your safety through God our Creator as well as through the Zambia Police and other law enforcement institutions in the country. In God we put our trust,” he said.
Rev Chikoya acknowledged efforts the Zambia Police Service and other security wings have made to curb the criminal activities.
“We are, however, appealing to the police to expedite investigations and share regular and very accurate information with the general public in order to stop the speculations and suspicion among the people,” he said.
Rev Chikoya appealed to the police to respect human rights as they discharge their duties.
“We acknowledge the need for the police to be firm but let this be done in a fair manner. The citizens must run to the police and not away from them. Do not downplay the people’s legitimate concerns and fears as this has a tendency of leading to riotous and unruly behaviour by the people. We, therefore, condemn the use of live bullets when dispersing protesting citizens,” said Rev Chikoya.
“We cannot accept the loss of lives at the hands of men and women in uniform who are supposed to protect human life. The police must be professional in discharging their duties.”