Zitukule Consortium executive director Nicholas Phiri says it was shocking that four Sesheke police officers were retired “in national interest” when the authorities had failed to act in the public interest in past cases involving police brutality.

In a statement, Phiri stated that there were more unanswered questions regarding the selective manner in which government was dealing with cases of police brutality, citing the failure to take action against police officers who fired teargas canisters in late UNZA student Vespers Shimuzhila’s room last year.

Phiri argued that President Edgar Lungu had betrayed the trust given to him as Head of State in pursuit of a political agenda.

“Zitukule Consortium is deeply dismayed at the dismissal of the four Sesheke Police officers barely 5 days after the alleged brutal treatment of the PF cadres. According to the reports from Sesheke, the PF cadres were not only terrorizing Sesheke residents during the by-election but also charging at police officers using all sorts of offensive weapons. For the record, Zitukule Consortium does not support any form of police brutality whether such brutality is directed at PF, opposition supporters or indeed members of civil society. Political violence and police brutality are not only unlawful and a violation to citizens’ constitutional and human rights, but also represent the most uncivilized way of dealing with divergent views, particularly in the political arena,” Phiri stated.

“As a Consortium, we are deeply disturbed by the message that the Republican President is sending to the police service, PF cadres, opposition supporters and the nation at large. It is difficult to reconcile how President Lungu and the police command can fire four police officers in public interest when they have failed to take the same action in the recent past on cases similar to or worse than the Sesheke incident. The action by the President and the police command is a betrayal of their Oath of Office to protect and defend the Constitution and the Zambian citizens.”

He insisted that there were more unanswered questions regarding the selective manner in which government was dealing with cases of police brutality.

“Painful questions remain unanswered: what has happened to the officers who fired teargas into the room of Vespers Shimuzhila, claiming her life? What happened to officer who killed Mapenzi Chibulo, a UPND supporter in cold blood in 2016? What happened to a police who publicly displayed partisan inclination by wearing a PF T-shirt and publicly flashing a PF symbol? Why is Mr Kakoma Kanganja at the helm of the police service, even when it is clear that he has failed to run a professional police service? What is so peculiar about PF cadres to constitute public interest, which other citizens who have been brutalised by police officers don’t have?” Phiri wondered.

He said that President Lungu had betrayed the trust given to him as Head of State in his pursuit of a political agenda

“It is a pity that President Lungu has betrayed the trust bestowed on him as President of Zambia by openly pursuing a political agenda to the detriment of national unity and state-building. The firing of Sesheke police officers sends a message that PF members can break the law at will and no one would dare touch them! Meanwhile, the message to those in opposition and civil society is that unless they support PF, they should not expect any protection from the police service. Meanwhile, the President and the police command have effectively taken away the little remaining professionalism in the police service as it would be practically impossible for them to act against PF’s lawlessness using their professional judgement,” stated Phiri.

“As Zitukule Consortium, we call upon the President to take a deep reflection on his Oath of Office to protect and defend the sanctity of the Constitution. We cannot have ‘one Zambia one nation’ when the application of the law is selective. As things stand now, the success or failure in maintaining public order largely depend on the Presidency.”