Home Affairs Minister Stephen Kampyongo says the importation of cadres to areas where elections are taking place is the root cause of political violence.
And Kampyongo says the Police Service Commission decided to dismiss officers who beat up PF cadres in the February 12 Sesheke parliamentary by-election after considering factors, such as the availability of Zambians that are willing to serve the country with diligence.
Appearing on ZNBC’s Sunday Interview programme, Kampyongo said there were a number of reasons for the ongoing political violence including; desperation – where political parties wanted to show that they were still strong in a given area; lack of tolerance and above all, importation of cadres.
“Importation of cadres is one of the reasons. But it’s not apportioned, you can’t blame one party. The UPND also had a huge contingent of youths, I am sure you must have seen the pictures that are circulating. So, this is one of the issues that we need to acknowledge and deal with. On our part as PF, we have been discussing with the Secretary General and the President himself, and I can share with you that, collectively, we are saying that no youth should be in an area where elections are taking place without my consent or the consent of the youth leadership in that particular area,” he said.
“But, of course, sometimes you get youths to go and render support, so these are things that we just need to deal with. It shouldn’t just be the Patriotic Front, it should be the UPND, it should be any other party that could be participating in a by-election. There could be numbers that could be allowed like those that go to campaign in structures and all, but most importantly, it’s important that the locals themselves…like in the upcoming by-elections in Bahati, we have the manpower in Luapula Province, starting from the province and going to the district and constituencies, enough youths.”
And Kampyongo argued that the fired Sesheke cops were dismissed from work after a number of factors were considered.
“After what transpired in Sesheke, the Police Service Commission was made to get onto the ground just to [look] at the reports that were on the ground because most of the reports that I spoke on in my earlier statement were the cases that were reported. For instance, how can you say someone’s house has been gutted, properties destroyed and suspects are probably known, then you don’t effect an arrest, what do you expect of such characters? They will continue with impunity. People report cases of assault, then you don’t effect an arrest, you expect that maybe after the elections that’s when we are going to effect an arrest, what kind of policing is that? People are arrested, UPND cadres are arrested, put in police custody, then their colleagues should come and rescue them violently and the police are not doing anything about that?” kampyongo asked.
“So, these are issues that the Police Service Commission focused on and zeroed in and in their own understanding, they discovered that those officers were ground commanders. Those were ground commanders and when there are by-elections in an area like that, the ones that take lead are the local police because they know their area very well. So, that’s where the Police Service Commission started from. But, of course, there was one constable who was just indisciplined, and him, I witnessed myself. This is a fellow who, with impunity started flashing the party symbol of the UPND and crossing the road! So, the Commission looked into these things and made a decision to dismiss the officers.”
Kampyongo insisted that government would not entertain lawless officers to continue servicing the police service when there were diligent citizens who were willing to serve the country with integrity.
“I would have felt the same way if that brutality was meted on a UPND person, as long as they are Zambians. You don’t react to people with that amount of force, that was not just justifiable! If you look at the number of people that line up when the police [are] recruiting, you could see how many people are willing to come and serve in the Zambia Police Service. Therefore, we are not going to accept to have people who just want to put on uniform and get carried away and forget their mandate,” cautioned Kampyongo.