Home Affairs Minister Stephen Kampyongo says President Edgar Lungu does not enjoy travelling out of the country, as critics believe.

Speaking when he featured on ZNBC TV’s Government Forum programme Monday, Kampyongo also said his party would visit the UPND secretariat yesterday to reciprocate the opposition’s earlier visit to the PF secretariat, where they shared ideologies of enhancing co-existence.

Responding to questions surrounding President Lungu’s recent trip to Turkey the minister said President Lungu does not like travelling out of the country so much as perceived by many.

“You talked about the very important visit we had by President Edorgan from Turkey, you remember when His Excellency was invited to go and attend his inauguration, it was talk, ‘what and what, was it that important? How can he go’, but look what happened, it didn’t take that long. You know the reciprocity that came from that president, you know it is the second country that the Turkish president was visiting apart from South Africa where he went to attend the Bricks summit. So it shows you that sometimes, these visits are not just touring,” he said.

“I don’t think the president enjoys moving, he wants to be here as much as he can but sometimes it is important to travel. We signed three MoUs and one of them was about training of our Law Enforcement Officers. You know Turkey is an emerging economy and fighting of crime now is becoming a complex business both at international level and local. So you have to avail your officers also to go to countries such as Turkey to go and train there so that they are able to deal with some of the confiscated emerging crimes that are coming on the scene,” Kampyongo said.

And Kampyongo said the Zambia police service was working round the clock to bring down youth gangs reported in selected parts of the country.

“I want to say that this issue of gangs is a common phenomenon anywhere were you have got youths and some of these activities are also related to drug abuse and alcohol abuse. So we had some of these cases on the Copperbelt and I want to commend the Copperbelt police command madam [Charity] Katanga and all the officers that participated in ensuring that they mounted operations that curtailed those activities by the gangs. And it was also pleasing to see the Inspector General of Police to go on the ground and give an example by being on the ground with the officers. Kitwe, I think the situation is under control. We continue appealing to parents and the community, the church leaders because these young ones come from the community. So we would want to work together with the communities and the church in making sure that we try and inculcate the family values which family values will ensure that children who are suppose to be in school are in school. On the other hand as government we realise also that we also need to create activities for youths and make them productive,” the minister said.

He also urged the communities and the church to join forces and work with the police.

“Coming to Lusaka of course we had complaints coming from Mtendere and Kalingalinga near here where a few gangs that are reported to have been terrorising people. We have continued to appeal to our citizens because if the community is not forth coming to partner with the Zambia police, it will be very difficult to zero in and curtail these activities. You remember that the police moved up and rounded up a good number of these boys who were believed to be part of these gangs. And there was an appeal from the Zambia police to the communities that ‘please let us come forward and identify these characters so that they could be taken to the courts of law’,” Kampyongo said.

And Kampyongo said it was his desire to beef-up the workforce for police officers from 17, 000 to 26, 000.

“We are also looking at equipping the Zambia police service with modern equipment as we are also looking at beefing-up their numbers in terms of at least making them meet the required ration of police to population because it requires a lot of resources to beef-up their numbers. You will recall the strategic plan of 2006 was the one which I was talking about beefing up the numbers to about 26, 000. We are currently still in the range of 17, 000 which is still low but progressively I think we will start doing something just as we have started this year. And I must thank the Minister of Finance who is quiet responsive and that this year we have been given some number because we are talking about a thousand, which of course is not enough, but approved in this year’s budget and what we are trying to do is to decentralise the recruitment process,” he said.

And Kampyongo said his party will continue fostering relations with the opposition UPND, aimed and ending violence.

“On our part, we would want to see further engagements. And I must confirm to you that tomorrow (yesterday) we are supposed to be having a reciprocal visit to our colleagues the UPND who are going to host the Patriotic Front just like we did host them. All this is meant to discuss ideas on what activities should we engage, which should consolidate and enhance the co-existence,” said Kampyongo.

“You know we can differ on political ideologies and ideas but certainly we must say we are one people. Just as we co-exist in parliament, there we use one chamber, we differ to agree on ideologies, we go to one Parliament Motel where we sleep, we eat on the same table and that is what we would want to see even amongst our supporters so that when people meet to cast the vote for you, it’s not because you are so feasible. I think going forward, we have got the Kasenengwa [by-election] coming, we would want to see a much more peaceful environment. I think the foundation that we have laid is something that we can build on.”