SACCORD executive director Boniface Cheembe says there is no difference between the Zambia Police Service and colonialists.
On Friday, heavily armed police raided the UPND secretariat in search of offensive weapons.
The hour-long search, however, did not yield any results.
But in an interview, Cheembe said police were creating an impression as if they were in a war with the opposition.
“We are concerned with what appears to be the continued harassment of opposition political parties in Zambia owing to recent raid that was effected by police on the secretariat belonging to the opposition United Party for National Development. As a country we have made major strides to try and bring about unity, peace and reconciliation in this country, to bring about major stakeholders in our political society together in the national dialogue process. But without us being in that spirit of reconciliation even on the national day of prayers, then there is nothing that we can achieve. The fact that we continue to see some of these raids means that we didn’t listen even to the advice of international stakeholders like the Professor Gambari who came to facilitate peace,” Cheembe said.
“To that effect, if there are any issues that are of concern to the Zambia police service, we want to appeal to them to call opposition political leaders to a round table to discuss some of these matters so that they are able to be ironed out to avoid giving an impression that somehow there is some kind of war or battle between the Zambia police service and opposition political parties. That is not a good thing and if there are such battles between police and the people they are supposed to be protecting then there is no difference between the now Zambia Police Service and the colonial type of leadership. We must move away from that thing [of colonialism] and ensure that we foster a political situation where every single stakeholder is respected irrespective of their political affiliation.”
And Cheembe challenged Inspector General of Police Kakoma Kanganja to explain to citizens the reasons why his officers had continued to harass members of opposition political parties.
“We [as SACCORD] don’t know the reason why it appears that police has continued to harass opposition political parties and we want to strongly appeal to the Inspector General of Police to perhaps explain that perception where position political parties appear to be harassed by the service. It will be good information for everybody to know because as SACCORD we don’t have any tangible reason as to why the police have been harassing opposition political parties. We can only appeal to the police to stop because that harassment is only going to fuel tension in the country. Therefore, as much as possible let’s discuss and dialogue about any issues of concern to end the ongoing tension in the country, but continuing to see this rage or issues of these reports of raids is unfortunate and these are issues that we even discussed before we agreed upon the issue of national dialogue,” Cheembe said.
Cheembe said it was important for police to make all citizens feel safe.
“And we want to strongly appeal to the Zambia police service to engage as much as possible all citizens of Zambia irrespective of whether they are coming from the ruling party or opposition so that we don’t create a situation that in this country the police service only exists to serve those are in power and the service continues to command the interests as well as the commands of those in the ruling party because at the end of it all, as long as you are citizens of this country then it is important that each citizen is able to benefit from the protection that exists at the service and what is even more important is that we must avoid such institutions continuing to create political tensions,” said Cheembe.