Target Threatened State of Emergency at arsonists, not media or opposition – Chipimo

In this audio, National Restoration Party (NAREP) president Elias Chipimo says the Threatened State of Emergency must be targeted at arsonists and alleged saboteurs instead of the media or opposition political parties.

And Chipimo says it is unlawful to use the Threatened State of Emergency to silence dissenting voices.

Meanwhile, Chipimo has challenged police to release forensic evidence to prove that the Lusaka City Market fire was an act of sabotage.

Chipimo was commenting on Inspector General of Police Kakoma Kanganja’s statement on the Threatened State of Emergency where he announced that police would regulate and prohibit certain publications as well as control gatherings.

Chipimo said for the Threatened State of Emergency to be enforced correctly, it was important that government was seen to be addressing the acts of arson and sabotage on which it was anchored.

“What happens to politicians in Zambia especially the ruling politicians, is that they use this [Threatened State of Emergency] as a pretext to prevent any opposition from anything that they are doing. And so the criminal justice system is not applied in a manner that it was designed to be applied. It then gets used to suppress any kind of dissenting views and opposition,” Chipimo said.

“So if you look at this, this was about an arson attack and acts that are likely to destabilize the peace and stability of the nation, so to now start to bring in issues of public assemblies and so on is not the intention of the law, that now becomes the intention of the politicians who are effectively getting the police to do their bidding; the politicians in power. And therefore that is wrong and it’s essentially an abuse of the Threatened State of Emergency under Article 31 of the Constitution. If this is to be done properly, it must be done in a way that shows they are addressing the very acts of sabotage that they have highlighted as the basis for introducing the provision that triggers the Threatened State of Emergency.”

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And Chipimo said it was unlawful to use the Threatened State of Emergency to silence dissenting views.

“The media cannot possibly be brought into an issue of criminal behavior by arsonists and saboteurs. This must be targeted at those people not at the media, not at political parties. So they are mixing these issues conveniently in order to suppress any dissenting views and that is not acceptable. And it is contrary to the law,” Chipimo said.
Chipimo observed that giving police more powers would not cure the problem of weak investigative mechanisms.

“You don’t introduce these provisions so that you can now start to be doing anything that you want to do in order to suppress any voices. You are supposed to introduce it to deal with the very issue. Secondly is that this issue of introducing provisions as a way of invoking Article 31, its not suppose to take over the normal process of criminal investigations. So in other words, if you take weak mechanisms, you are not going to strengthen it by taking away people’s rights so that you can just willy-nilly start to search people’s places without a search warrant, control public gatherings and restrict people’s freedoms. This is supposed to supplement existing investigative capacity. So if the problem is weak investigative capacity, that is the problem you need to fix. So we need to address the right problem and the problem here is we have very weak investigative capacity to deal with the basic crimes that are taking place,” he said.

“People have been murdered in this country and we are not getting to the bottom of who is responsible for these deaths. And also there ongoing criminal activities that are taking place on a daily basis. And what we need to do is to strengthen the capacity of police to be able to conduct normal investigations and not to take away people’s rights and thereby believing that they are going to strengthen the capacity of police. If this has to be done properly, it must be done in a way that they are addressing the very acts of arson and sabotage that they have highlighted as the basis for introducing the provision that triggered the threatened state of emergency.”

Meanwhile Chipimo challenged police to present forensic evidence to prove that the city market fire was not as a result of an electrical fault.

“Police need to explain how they came up with this conclusion, it is not right to simply issue a statement which in the mind of the public will border on speculation, unless they demonstrate that the conclusions they have arrived at are supported by facts and evidence from proper investigative work. What investigative and forensic capacity did we see demonstrated to us to give us that conclusion?” asked Chipimo.

“They still haven’t told us how will the arresting without search warrant lead them to suspects who caused whatever fire, none of this is in any way connected to the sweeping power which they are now relying upon which are simply terrorizing the public and causing fear and anxiety in ordinary peace loving Zambians.”

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