We are not blaming the opposition members for the acts of terror in Zambia because we don’t know the culprits and if we knew, we would have arrested them,” Justice Minister Given Lubinda told BBC Focus on Africa yesterday.
And Lubinda challenged BBC that as they highlight incidences of bad governance in Zambia, the International media should also tabulate acts of arson and violence that led to the declaration of a Threatened State of Emergency.
“We have not in any way blamed opposition members for the acts of terror. We don’t know them, had we known, we would have arrested them. We have declared this period a period of threatened peace and security to allow the police to investigate and we are determined to bring to book these culprits who are behind these acts. Had we known them, we wouldn’t have done this, we would have gone straight for them. But we don’t know them,” Lubinda said.
BBC: From those who are observing from outside, it looks like the Zambian government wants to clamp down on anyone who looks like they are opposing the regime?
Lubinda: I would have been very delighted had you continued on your narration by indicating the many acts of violence, the many acts of arson that have taken place in the country during the period when those incidents you referred to took place. There was cutting down of high tension electricity cables that you didn’t talk about, there was gutting of school, burning of markets, burning of courts. I wish you had mentioned that so that your viewers get a clearer picture of what led to the proclamation of the Threatened State of Emergency.
BBC: Who do you blame all these things that you have mentioned, because it looks like from the opposition side they are being blamed for things that they are not involved in?
Lubinda: We have not in any way blamed opposition members for the acts of terror. Had we blamed the opposition members, we could have take them for questioning. What we have done is to extend the power of the police by invoking an article of the Constitution that permits the President to do so; to triggers the section of the law which allows the police to carry out thorough investigations in acts of this nature. We have not in any way blamed any particular opposition for the acts or terror which have happened in this country.
BBC: You are using very strong words “terro”, Who do you blame for what is happening in Zambia now?
Lubinda: We blame the people who are conducting these acts of arson and terror, they are the ones we blame.
BBC: Who are they?
Lubinda: We don’t know them, had we known, we would have arrested them. We have declared this period a period of threatened peace and security to allow the police to investigate and we are determined to bring to book these culprits who are behind these acts. Had we known them, we wouldn’t have done this, we would have gone straight for them. But we don’t know them, that’s the reason why we are investigating.
On July 6, 2017, President Lungu said investigations had been done and arsonists were known.
“There is a history to this and the history goes prior to elections, during elections and afterwards. And there has been accumulation of events. So as Parliament debates, I am sure they will be mindful of where we are coming from and where we are; and what prompted the President to arrive at that decision. But I am sure members of the Executive who were in Cabinet will stand and meet the challenge of explaining,” said President Lungu.
“Is there any Zambian who is wondering as to what has led to this honestly? Does any well meaning Zambian want to know what has brought this about? Where we are coming from like I was saying last night; Katambalala market, local court in Mongu, you name it… it’s just too much. Electricity pylons, Lusaka West, Shantumbu. In Ndola there you go and set alight systems and thousands of people are left without light and so on. Surely the pattern has shown than this is manipulated and orchestrated by some people who are hellbent on just brinking chaos into the country. Every well meaning Zambian knows that we are under siege, there is terrorism building up, but we don’t want to allow it to escalate to a level beyond which you can control it for you to say its an emergency.”