United Party for National Development (UPND) secretary general Stephen Katuka says here is no evidence currently which supports President Edgar Lungu’s basis for declaring a Threatened State of Emergency.

And Katuka says those commenting on the City market inferno must stop and allow the police to do their job professionally.

He told News Diggers! in an interview today that the UPND finds the Presidents’ decision to be premature, adding that it was an act of irresponsibility to make conclusions on the matter when it was still being investigated.

“It’s irresponsible for anybody to start commenting on a matter that is still under investigation. In fact even for the President to declare his invocation of Article 31 was premature because there is no evidence at the moment to support his basis. The truth is that we are all saddened on the development that happened on that fateful day and so we have been waiting on the relevant arms of government to investigate the matter and tell the nation what really happened. If you listen to those that were at the scene, there were a lot of contradicting statements as to what could have really caused the fire,” Katuka observed.

“Kampyongo yesterday was saying that their youth and the police were working together to guard that market and that the fire only came out after five in the morning and then some people also are saying they saw people who went in from the Patriotic Front, they say those people went in the market and then came out and thereafter there was a fire. So there are too many statements that are substantiated and we are not even sure which is which so we all don’t know and as a country we have people who are employed to do that work, so let us give them chance to investigate thoroughly so that we are made to know exactly what happened.”

He said the nature of attention that the City Market Fire had attracted and the premature conclusions drawn by the President and the ruling party were cause for serious suspicion.

“You know that if we comment on anything we get arrested, so even on this one, had it been UPND commenting, we would have been arrested by now. But if you can remember, even when the President was tabulating the incidents that had happened, he never mentioned the issue of the memorial park attack, he only talked about the fires in Mazabuka, there was a fire in this place but this is not even the first time that fire has happened in this country. We have had fires at Chisokone market in Kitwe, in Nakadoli. We have had fires all over but why is everyone commenting on this City Market fire and making conclusion before investigations? It clearly goes to show that it’s a planned move and that someone somewhere stage managed this fire, that’s my view, that’s what it means,” said Katuka.

And Katuka observed that there has been a continued attitude of selective application of the law by the police when dealing with the opposition party.

“Zambia is not an Island, in South Africa there was a fire last week and in London there was also that fire which gutted a 24 storey building and there was no finger pointing to say no it was that African who lives in that flat because us as whites we can’t do something like this…there was nothing like that. They have just been waiting for investigations and they will come up with a report and say this is what really happened. But our problem is that even those that are supposed to investigate are not professional! And they are partisan in there approach, so we don’t expect anything reasonable or sensible to come out of their investigations because they should have been telling those who are commenting on this issue to keep quiet and give them chance to investigate,” Katuka said.

“So, my appeal to the police is that they should be professional. They are paid from the tax payers money to protect all of us regardless of political divide they should be there to protect all the citizens. The 14 million Zambians should be protected by the police but now it’s like they are there to protect the PF and now it is even clear from Kampyongo’s statement [on Sunday interview] that the PF youths who are the cadres are now part of the police but there is no way that their youths can work with the police. The police are supposed to be professionals independent, and those are cadres, so what is there point of intersection? It doesn’t make sense to me and that only goes to show you that as a country we have reached a point where we have completely compromised institutions of governance,” said Katuka.

“For sure the police has been infiltrated by PF cadres. We have been receiving information of cadres being trained in the police Camp grounds. And Honourable Kampyongo confirmed it when he said ‘the police are working with our youth’. What have youths got to do with police? Which youth is supposed to be in the police service? The police service is not for PF but for all of us so how do you get cadres to work with the police? That shows how compromised the police is and that is coming from the Minister of Home Affairs. So you can see that this country is now upside down and the level of lawlessness is so high that no body knows where we are heading.”