President Edgar Lungu yesterday told Home Affairs Minister Stephen Kampyongo to let police officers allow opposition leaders and critics to insult him and his government, saying they are all free to expose their idiocy without crossing the boundary.

Speaking when he handed over 82 newly-constructed paramilitary housing units to the officers at the Paramilitary Battalion Headquarters in Lusaka’s Lilayi area, Thursday, President Lungu told Kampyongo and the police to be careful when dealing with defamation of the President, saying sometimes law enforcers may look like idiots themselves.

“I wish to take this opportunity to thank the Zambia Police Service for ensuring a peaceful environment in which the just ended by-elections were conducted in Luapula and Copperbelt Provinces. I urge you to continue maintaining law and order at all times. Without law and order, no investment, financial development can be achieved. Therefore, you must continue to ensure that Zambia remains a beacon of peace on the African continent and democracy too can only thrive when law and order are upheld at all times. I am saying this because even those who are shouting, calling us undemocratic, insulting us, they can only do so if law and order is upheld. So please continue doing that good work of maintaining law and order so that we remain an example of democracy in the region and beyond. Allow those people honourable Kampyongo who are insulting as long as they don’t cross the boundary, there is a boundary of course,” President Lungu said.

“There is a saying in bemba [which says] ‘icipuba chaitila umuto…’ which means a village idiot can bring harm to the whole community but allow him to have his idiocy. Only when he crosses the line should you intervene. Otherwise, you can become an idiot yourself. We have to have a situation where we are able to tell that ‘this is idiocy, this is leadership’. So honourable Kampyongo as you tackle the vices of defamation in the law, be mindful that there’s a thin between idiocy and inability. So don’t become part of them.”

And President Lungu asked the officers who were going to occupy the newly handed over houses to guard them from vandalism and consider them as their own.

“To the officers who will occupy these houses with their families, please ensure that you keep them with care. There is no such a thing as fya buteko or niva boma (they are government properties), it’s you who will be living there, it’s your house. So [things like] niva boma or fya boma kulibe. You have the responsibility to guard these houses from vandalism. Inspector General of Police, therefore, you have a duty to instil responsible behaviour amongst the occupants. The culture of inspecting property which we grew up with by the police should be resuscitated. Inspection of houses is normal, it’s part of the police existence. So find time commanding officer to visit these houses and see to it that these houses are taken care of. The culture of saying ‘these are government houses and so we cannot take action to correct the situation’ must stop now. The ‘boma ilanganepo’ syndrome must come to an end. Please ladies and gentlemen be responsible if these houses are to be there in generations to come,” Lungu said.

The President also said the completion of housing project units for the paramilitary officers was a significant achievement to his government as it continued with the quest to address the accommodation challenges that men and women in uniform face.

“The Patriotic Front government has a clear and robust development agenda for Zambia, which includes mitigating the housing deficit that our men and women in uniform have continued to face. Our unwavering commitment to deliver to the people of Zambia cannot be doubted, as some of the results we have so far yielded are visible for all to see, including those much talked about doubting Thomases. Yes, there are people who see but they cannot acknowledge, so you just have to forget about them. Some time back, such beautiful houses were a preserve of a few. But today, the Patriotic Front is changing the status quo. We have said that Police Officers can also have a taste of the comfort of these houses. A few days ago, I commissioned other housing units for Zambia Police at Kamfinsa and Luanshya Central Police Camps, this I must say is a remarkable achievement indeed. We are here today to yet again literate our commitment to improve the living conditions of law enforcement officers by commissioning and handed over 82 housing units to the paramilitary battalion in Lilayi. Let me take this opportunity to applaud officers in the paramilitary battalion for their loyalty and sacrifice which they continue to make to ensure our country remains peaceful,” said President Lungu.

Speaking at the same event, Inspector General of Police Kakoma Kanganja appealed to the President to consider demolishing the old makeshift housing structures for police officers in Lilayi and construct better houses for them.

“The shelters you have just seen your Excellency where structures used as makeshift half-round accommodation for workers under a construction company which was working on the Kariba dam. As a matter of courtesy, the company offered these structures to the paramilitary as temporal accommodation, which with time have become permanent houses for our officers, which houses are not fit for human habitation as you have seen for yourself Your Excellency. Therefore, this territorial event is a milestone and indeed a new dawn for infrastructure development, not only here at the paramilitary battalion but indeed across the whole country, as your government has clearly demonstrated… I wish to appeal to your Excellency to consider demolishing those makeshift structures and build better offices for officers such as this one you are about to commission,” said Kanganja.