NDC Secretary General Mwenya Musenge says the PF government has reduced the nobel duty of soldiers to street guards, aimlessly patrolling the city and harassing civilians.

And Musenge says when in power, NDC shall never entertain “the nonsense of civilians calling themselves Commandos”.

Recently, Minister of Defence permanent secretary Sturdy Mwale challenged people to provide evidence of the soldiers harassing civilians in Lusaka.

But in an interview with News Diggers! Musenge demanded that the soldiers were taken back to the barracks because there was no way people could make false claims.

“When people complain, a good leader should try to listen to what people are saying. There is no way that people can just rise up and start making false claims. My humble advice to the PF is to get on the ground and withdraw all the soldiers from the streets. We are not in a state of emergency and there is no need to have soldiers manning the streets 24/7. The police are equal to the task. Let the police be left to do their responsibility. Let soldiers be taken back to the barracks,” he said.

“In fact, it is indeed a disgrace to the soldiers to be reduced to street guards. Their profession is noble and should be respected. They have a role that they are supposed to play at a given time. This beating of civilians by the soldiers, they are just trying to send a message to their supervisors, to Sturdy Mwale, to the President that they are extremely disappointed, they are not happy to be doing what the police are supposed to be doing.”

Musenge observed that it was impossible for people to get evidence of soldiers beating civilians.

“So Sturdy Mwale should not be defensive over things that are in the open. He knows very well that our people cannot be able to get a camera and film those soldiers. The next thing you will hear is that one of them is killed [whilst] trying to film. He knows that it is actually impossible. So let him not be asking people to produce evidence that cannot be gotten. They have contained cholera and there is no need to allow these people to continue patrolling the streets,” he said.

“Let me also appeal to the President, Mr Edgar Chagwa Lungu that indeed you have managed to clean the streets but come up with a team to try and verify how our people, most of them who were surviving on the little meagre earnings they were earning from the streets, are surviving. Most of those people are now sleeping on empty stomachs, most of them have been chased from the one room they were renting and most of them have probably even died out of hunger. It’s not about sending people out of the streets and leaving the streets clean, but it is important to know how government has provided for the people that were pushed from their source of income and how they are surviving.”

And commenting on PF deputy secretary general Mumbi Phiri’s statement that the NDC leader Chishimba Kambwili wanted to dent Commando’s image because he refused to join his party, Musenge said NDC did not believe in thuggery.

“NDC has never approached Commando to join NDC. NDC is a party which is very proud of itself. We don’t go to kneel before people and invite them to join the party. The party has a large following [and] as we are speaking today, probably it has the largest membership across the country. Commando with due respect, I have never met him and we have no interest, whatsoever, in his doing. NDC is not a party that believes in thuggery and we can never be excited with whatever activities Commando does,” said Musenge.

“For me the only thing that I can say is that once NDC comes into government, we shall eliminate that nonsense. These titles of one calling himself Commando, Commander, are titles that are reserved for the rightful unit. But because we do not have governance in this country, because the leadership of this nation is pathetic, that’s why today we can have people rising up and start calling themselves Commandos and Commanders. We shall never entertain that nonsense when we come into government.”