In this audio, Police Spokesperson Esther Mwaata Katongo says officers are happy because Article 31 of the Constitution which President Edgar Lungu invoked gives them more powers.

And Katongo says there is no tension in the country but that there are only criminal activities that are going on.

Featuring on Hot FM’s Hot Seat programme this morning, Katongo said Statutory Instrument 53 would give the police more powers to execute their duties.

“Now that the President has used his powers under Article 31, we will wait for a Statutory Instrument (SI) which will come out because when you look at the end of the legislation, there are a lot of regulations so it will be to the President in the SI to decide which regulations he is going to pass to say that we should be using these regulation and as police we feel very happy because when you look at this piece of legislation, it is giving us more to handle things,” Katongo said.

“Following what will be in the SI that will be passed, then we will be able see and say these are the other powers that we have been given by the President. But again people should understand that these regulations are dictated by the situation so if the situation does not change, then the President may still change the regulations so that’s what people should understand.”

Katongo noted that police were not enough to execute their functions as stipulated in SI 53 saying that President Lungu would co-opt other security wings to help them.

“The numbers are not enough. The standard policing ratio of police to members of the public is supposed to be one officer to 250 members of the public. But when you look at the current situation, the ratio is one officer to more than 800 people which is far too much. So I know that even as the President will be making this SI, there are some regulations which he may include which may co-opt other security wings to help us in the matter,” she said.

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And Katongo said President Lungu would not have passed a preservation of the public security Act if there was tension in the country.

“There is no tension in the country, when you look at the law which was just passed the President, he used section 31 which goes with cap 112. Cap 112 is a preservation of the public security Act. If there was tension, he was going to use the public emergency Act which is cap 108 but he did not go for that, he has used the prevention of public security meaning that there is security which we need to preserve because you can only preserve that which is there you can’t preserve something which is not there,” Katongo said.

“So there is no tension, but people since we have always been saying that there is no tension, this is the reason maybe why they want to start engaging in these criminal activities just to distabilise the lives of people so that they can create the tension otherwise there is no tension in our country but there are only criminal activities which are taking place.”

Meanwhile, Katongo said police were not leaving out any possibilities in determining the cause of the City Market fire saying even an electrical fault would be caused by a person.

“As we already indicated, the fire at city market is still being investigated. The fire experts are still establishing whether that fire caused by an electrical fault or it was caused by a person but people should understand to say that an electrical fault can also be caused by a person because someone can just tie…you know those who know how to connect these wires can just do so and then when you just switch on it blows up, so we are not ruling out any possibility here and this is the reason we are saying that even as the officers are on the ground trying to establish this, we have also instituted our investigations. And then the other reason which is making us to do this is because we have seen the way things are happening, pylon after pylon, market after market,” said Katongo.