The Joint Action for Accountability in Zambia (JAAZ) says it is regrettable that police have continued to break the law and abuse law abiding citizens after 53 years of the country’s independence.

And JAAZ has asked Zambians not to move on from the fire tender procurement scandal until justice is seen to be done.

At a press briefing yesterday, Alliance for Community Action (ACA) executive director Laura Miti who is also one of the JAAZ conveners, noted that it was Inspector General of Police Kakoma Kanganja’s responsibility to ensure that officers did not abuse the public order act.

“It is with a deep sense of sadness that we reflect on the behaviour and actions of the Zambia Police on 29 September in breaking up a peaceful protest outside Parliament, detaining peaceful protesters and subsequently charging them with ‘disobeying lawful orders’ and ‘unlawful assembly.’ We strongly object to the idea that 53 years after independence, in what is a constitutional democracy, the senior police officers are routinely abusing the rank and file of the police force by ordering them to break the law and abuse law abiding citizens,” Miti said.

“We believe that in this situation, the junior officers are as much victims as the citizens whose rights they are used to abusing. The responsibility of this continued abuse of the Public Order Act lies squarely on the desk of Inspector General of police Kakoma Kanganja and his senior officers. It is the professional duty of the police high command to uphold the law and yet they repeatedly and unapologetically, flout it. We would like to inform this press briefing that all the six protesters, who include us the three conveners (Pilato, Lewis Mwape and Laura) here present, will tomorrow (today) Friday 27 October, appear in court on the said charges preferred against us by the state.”

And Miti said the responses given the ministry of local government to justify the purchase of the 42 fire tenders had raised more questions than answers.

“Since the Friday 29th September protest, JAAZ has continued to seek answers from the government and a measure of progress has been made in that regard. On behalf of JAAZ, the ACA was invited by the Zambia Public Procurement Authority (ZPPA) for a meeting following a request we made to that office for information on the fire tenders procurement. The ZPPA explained that apart from fulfilling their regulatory mandate, the institution did not take part in the procurement of the 42 fire tenders, a duty which fell under the Ministry of Local Government. The Ministry of Local Government in response to our request provided some of the information that we had asked for. The answers we were given have in themselves raised more questions and concretised our position that the procurement of the 42 fire trucks was an unstrategic and imprudent use of resources,” Miti said.

Meanwhile, Miti asked Zambians not to move on from the fire tender scandal.

“It is the ability of citizens to forget quickly. Zambian politicians know that they can get away with just about anything by simply letting time pass. I will give a few examples: Ministers who held on to office after the dissolution of parliament ahead of the 2016 general elections are yet to pay back their earnings as ordered by the Constitutional Court. The case, as appealed is not being called. The robust discussion around this matter has died down. Unless citizens insist, we may never see the money illegally earned by Ministers,” said Miti.

“The MMD that the country voted out of power for its various excesses has been rehabilitated and is now very much part of the ruling PF. Individuals who in the public eye represented corruption in the MMD are now influencing the direction our country is going inside and outside of government and we the people are quiet. We have taught democratically elected leaders that they do not need to answer to us. What we are saying to citizens is do not get tired of demanding accountability on the way our money is spent and our country is run. This is our country, this is our money. Speak up when you hear incidents of corruption and lawlessness. Act as an anonymous whistle blower if you are in the civil service.”