The PF must feel extremely ashamed that the best way to handle defeat is by firing innocent police officers, says Rainbow Party leader Wynter Kabimba.

And Kabimba says it is shameful to have a corruption-accused minister showing up at court with cadres and body guards like he has just landed from heaven with a message from Jesus.

The Police Service Commission has fired four officers from Sesheke for allegedly beating up violent PF cadres during the just ended parliamentary by-elections in that area.

PF Secretary General Davies Mwila had written to Inspector General of Police, Kakoma Kanganja, demanding answers on why his party members suffered brutality at the hands of police and why they were “butchered like common criminals”.

Police have acted swiftly by firing senior officers; senior Superintendent Officer commanding Sesheke District Shaapa Wakunguma, second officer commanding Sesheke District Chilongo Fleming, Assistant superintendent in charge of Sesheke police station Lengwe Borniface, and Constable Mukela Fridric of Sesheke Police Station.

But in an interview, Kabimba observed that this was killing professionalism among officers, warning that there would be mayhem in the upcoming Bahati by-election because of this.

“If you look at the officer in charge, Wakunguma is a Lozi name, the guy that was officer in charge is Lozi, I don’t know about the other two or three. So the cry from police officers that are in the service today, especially those from Southern Province and Western Province that there is indiscriminate retirement of these guys in so called national interest because they are perceived to be aligned to an opposition political party, that there is unfair treatment of these officers purely on regional grounds, even as they try to perform their duties professionally, seems to be lending credence to the actions by the PF, especially where they have lost an election. If they had won the election even with that systematic violence that we saw, they wouldn’t have fired Wakunguma,” Kabimba said.

“And this is what is causing problems in the police service. I have said many times on radio that police officers are professional. They know what to do and they go by the rules of their training but they are intimidated by politicians, they receive instructions from the politicians and when they refuse to carry out those instructions, they are victimised by way of transfers to remote areas of this country or dismissals and so now, most of them are holding back in the discharge of their duties. And PF must feel extremely ashamed that this is, according to them the best way of handling a defeat. And these things build up, if you have read the history of many countries, the civil strife that you see comes from incidents such as these.”

He said if instructions to fire the officers did not come from President Edgar Lungu, the Head of State should condemn the action.

“President Lungu as Head of State must get concerned about this if the instructions are not coming from him as Commander-in-Chief. He must show that he is worried about this and if he doesn’t come out to condemn, I never heard him even during the Sesheke by-election condemn the violence. I have not heard any senior official in the PF condemn the violence in Sesheke. The position that I have always held is that both PF and UPND are violent political parties and you can tell from the kind of youths that they put forward in any situation. But that is no justification for victimising innocent officers that are trying to discharge their duties professionally,” Kabimba said.

“The people that suffered most during the by-elections are not PF or UPND cadres, it is the poor and helpless men and women that were running away from their homes.”

Kabimba said it was unacceptable for government to make people from certain regions feel like they did not deserve to be employed by the state.

“You can’t have a system of governance where some people from some regions of this country feel like they don’t deserve to work in government, it is a shame. I would be ashamed if I were Head of State, if I were minister or secretary general of the ruling party. And we need leaders that can exhibit this sense of public shame,” he said.

He urged civil society organisations to help the officers seek justice.

“We have a CSO movement and political parties that are urban based and they are not relevant to the lives of the ordinary people out there. What Wakunuma and his group are supposed to do, instead of folding their arms, they are supposed to take up this case in court and challenge the decision because they can clearly show that before the Sesheke by-election, they were good officers, there were no disciplinary cases that were taken against them. And they can’t do that alone, they need a civil society advocacy movement that can go to them. But the poor fellows will be left out in the cold, alone. What message does that send to the officer in charge in Mansa where the Bahati by-election is due to take place? It is high time Zambians stopped being so passive,” Kabimba said.

“For as long as you have individuals that look at these emerging dictatorial tendencies, individuals and groups that are just good at talking in the press, then we will not develop this democracy and we will not tame dictatorial tendencies. Dictators feed on passiveness of citizens. This is killing professionalism. So even the officer in charge in Mansa is going to hold back, he will not act like a police officer. When he doesn’t act like a police officer, it means there will be mayhem in Mansa. This is what killed UNIP, it is what killed MMD. For me, I say it is high time the Zambian people started looking for alternative leadership in this country, to bring the country back to law and order and discipline, and it can be done. But if the choice is between the PF and UPND, I can swear to the living lord that nothing is going to change in this country.”

And Kabimba said it was shameful to have a corruption-accused minister showing up at court with cadres and body guards like he has just landed from heaven with a message from Jesus.

“How can you have a minister who has been charged with corruption going to court and being accompanied by PF cadres and body guards and you claim to be fighting corruption? A minister has been charged by a government agency and he is going to court looking like a hero as if he has landed from heaven with a message from Jesus Christ. And you want to hide under the presumption of innocence that the man is innocent until proven guilty, yes, that is true but morally, what are your cadres doing around him? Giving him support and chanting names as if the man is a war hero when he is supposed to be a corruption hero because he is under prosecution,” said Kabimba.