Small firearms have the potential to destabilize democratically-elected governments if not silenced, says Head of INTERPOL regional bureau and coordinator of the Southern African Regional Police Chiefs Cooperation Organisation Nawa Mubita.
And African Union (AU) head of the defence and security division Einas Mohammed says porous borders and insecurity in other regions has had a direct impact on illicit weapon inflows circulated in the country.
Meanwhile, Home Affairs Minister Stephen Kampyongo has observed that illicit weapons and firearms have worsened conflicts on the African continent.
Speaking during the official opening of the African Union Amnesty Month workshop for defence and security personnel in Lusaka, Mubita said small weaponry has the potential to destabilise democratically-elected governments if not silenced.
“If not silenced, such situations have potential to destabilize democratically-elected government as anarchy takes root; citizens are compelled to lose confidence in the established security architecture and governance structure, thereby, taking the law in their hands. Such a scenario is often cyclical as illicit proliferation of guns increases for self-defence, giving criminals a fertile ground to commit serious crimes,” Mubita warned.
He also said small firearms and light weapons in the hands of criminal elements remained a serious threat to world peace.
“Small arms and light weapons in the hands of criminal elements are serious threat to world peace. Firearms are often used to commit heinous crimes that includes, among others, aggravated robberies, car-jacking’s, rape, human trafficking and poaching of wild life, creating a sense of insecurity in any given nation,” Mubita added.
And Mohammed said illicit inflows and circulation of weapons and firearms in the country could intensify crime and inter-communal conflict.
“While Zambia has long-enjoyed security and stability, porous borders and insecurity in other parts of the region has a direct impact on illicit weapons inflows and circulation into the country, which can in-turn intensify crime and inter-communal conflict. This is why Africa Amnesty Month remains of high relevance and benefit to the country,” Mohammed said.
She noted that the majority deaths in Africa were caused by small firearms.
“The majority of deaths in Africa are caused by small arms. The availability of weapons can significantly shape the dynamics, scope and severity of the conflict, thereby, undermining and complicating peace-making and peace-keeping in the region. Arms acquired by non-state groups, including rebels, terrorists and criminals have and continue to cause widespread loss of life, destruction and disabilities. Illicitly-[acquired] arms also enables a range of human rights and humanitarian law violation, including forced displacements, gender-based violence and attacks against peacekeepers and building and reconstruction efforts,” Mohammed added.
Meanwhile, Home Affairs Minister Stephen Kampyongo observed that illicit weapons and firearms had worsened conflicts on the continent.
“Illicit weapons and firearms have worsened conflicts on the continent and undermines sustainable social and economic development. As you are aware, the African Amnesty Month is centred on voluntary surrender of all illicit weapons and firearms by members of the public to law enforcement agencies. It, therefore, seeks to contribute to the African Union’s ambitious programme of silencing the guns on the continent and is anchored on commitment to peaceful resolution of conflict on the continent,” said Kampyongo.
The African Amnesty Month has been observed by all African Union member-states of the since September, 2017.
It seeks to help rid Africa of illicit weapons and firearms, which have worsened conflicts.