Members of parliament from both sides of the House on Wednesday united on the need for the Executive to put in place practical measures to end electoral violence.
The MPs were supporting a motion moved by Choma Central UPND member of parliament Cornelius Mweetwa.
In his Motion, which was seconded by Zambezi East UPND member of parliament Brian Kambita, Mweetwa urged the executive to outlaw the use of offensive weapons by Law Enforcement Agencies during elections.
“That the executive should put in place measures to stem out electoral violence that (i) we return or restore the rule of law because most of the criminal activities that are perpetrated during these elections are actually acts that the law prohibits whether committed during an election or outside an election, we have this far sufficient laws to be able to curb those criminal acts. And I suspect Mr Speaker through you to the honourable Minister of Home Affairs that if we leave police to do professional work without interference, without them listening to the posturing of the political leadership and just do work in accordance with the training, we can make headways in ensuring that during these elections, the police do what is right to stem out electoral violence,” Mweetwa stated in his Motion.
“Allow me also sir to add on that what we have seen after the just ended [Sesheke] by-elections where police officers who in my view were trying to be professional and disarm people who were armed with Pangas (machetes) and fire arms and then those whom their commanders retired on national interest and subsequently in public interest is an upset and a stain to the governance of this country and the watch of our colleagues. We think that wherever there should be capable people, those responsible should have taken responsibility unlike meting out punishment on innocent citizens because there is a provision of retiring people in national interest. Retiring people should be used judiciously and reasonably.”
Mweetwa said the President, as the Commander in Chief of Armed Forces, had the ultimate say on how police should behave during elections.
“Mr Speaker, I would also like to state at this point that we have the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces who is a President of the Republic of Zambia and therefore that Presidency with the powers vested in that Presidency has the ultimate say on how the police should behave unlike now sir where we have cadres wanting to overrun a police station,” Mweetwa said.
He said that for as long as politicians continued sniffing into the operations of the institutions of governance, electoral violence would never end.
“[With] these things, we are creating a dangerous state for our children in future. The Commander in Chief is clothed with enough authority to ensure that sanity retains in the operation of Zambia Police and that through his or her good will, the police can operate professionally. For as long as politicians continue to think that they are supervisors of institutions of governance at a level where they begin to interfere, Mr speaker this problem will continue to be with us for a very long time, [which is] something very undesirable. And I am pretty sure that neither ourselves on your left nor PF wouldn’t like Zambia [to] degenerate into an election violence state. Therefore through you Mr Speaker, I think that President Lungu should take post and begin to offer direction if he does exhibit political will to end electoral violence,” he said.
“The second issue I would like the executive to do is to outlaw the use of offensive weapons by Law Enforcement Agencies because the possession and use of offensive weapons by cadres and citizens is already outlawed at law. We now require to move on in terms of legal reforms to step up and move forward and ensure that during elections, we know that that is generally harmonious atmosphere where we choose our leaders. Police should not go there with offensive weapons as if they are going to confront criminals. They are going to confront unarmed citizens,” said Mweetwa.
In supporting the motion, Home Affairs Minister Stephen Kampyongo described it as a progressive motion which required all leaders to co-exist in ending electoral violence.
Meanwhile, MMD national secretary, and nominated member of parliament, Rapheal Nakacinda said the Motion required the House to speak in unison.
And Eastern Province Minister Makebi Zulu said he woud support the motion for his own reasons and not the reasons advanced by the mover.
Other people who supported and debated on the Motion were Bwana Mkubwa PF member of parliament Dr Jonas Chanda, Elijah Muchima of Ikelengi and Sesheke’s Romeo Kangombe.