Zambia Police assistant public relations officer Godfrey Chilabi says intolerance among politicians has worsened over the years and this is mounting pressure on the police command.
Speaking when he featured on One Love Radio station to discuss how the police was preparing for forthcoming Katuba Parliamentary by-elections, Chilabi lamented that police were sometimes subjected to unnecessary work due to the failure by politicians to tolerate each other.
“At times, we are given unnecessary work as police due to people failing to tolerate each other. During the Chilanga by-elections, we had about over 800 police officers. But where did all that man power come from? We had officers coming from as far as Tazara in Mpika just to come and beef up the man power in policing the Chilanga by-elections. But where they are coming from, are they not needed as police officers that side? Of course there will be a shortfall, where you pick five officers from a police station, that’s a big number and when we follow the Police:Members of the public ratio, of one police officer to about 800 members of the public, now in this case you get 50, that’s 50 by 800. How many members of the public are without police officers? So those are the effects, why should we bring more than one thousand police officers in a place like Katuba?” Chilabi asked.
“What causes police to deploy so many police officers to one area is failure by some people to tolerate one another. Where we are coming from… I have been managing elections for so many years and in years like 2001 somewhere there, it was just a police station to police an election. But now there is this aspect of intolerance amongst politicians and that’s what now is putting up the risk levels. So for Katuba, let’s not go to that extent. We have hope and believe as police officers that we will work together with members of the public and political parties to ensure that the elections go on freely and fair without violence.”
Chilabi assured that Police had put in measures to ensure that the by-elections in Katuba were violence-free and fair.
“We have put in enough man power that will be able to provide a service to all stakeholders around that area. And in terms of sensiization, our Nkwazi theater club always partners with the Electoral Commission of Zambia to ensure that we educate members of the public on issues to do with electoral violence and the negative effects of electoral violence. Political parties also have obligations. If we go to the Constitution, in Article 60, that’s where we find the the Dos and Don’ts of politicians. Article 60 (2) talks about the Dos and one of the Dos that political parties are provided with is to promote values and principles of the country and you find these things in Article eight and nine of the Constitution. And then the Don’ts can be found on Article 60 (3). On the Don’ts, we have things like not engaging in violence. So it’s all about all stakeholders obeying what the law states. The law is very clear and it’s just a matter of abiding by the Constitution. All political parties need police presence for coverage in case of anything. There is this false notion of saying ‘A and B or C and D are incompatible’. So it’s always important the police have to be there in case of any emergency,” he said.
Meanwhile, Chilabi asked youths to resist being used as tools of violence by politicians in Katuba.
“We’ve never had a situation where a candidate will get his family members and say ‘let’s go and cause confusion’. Mr X has a family but has he brought them to come and cause confusion? Of course not! They are well secured. So why is he not picking them? He knows the consequences. So he will leave his family well-secured and find these youths, pay them K10s, some packets of shake shake or some beers and quickly, those youths will move in and cause confusion. After causing that violence, they are paid maybe a K50 or K10 each. So that is the situation. Now my message to you youths, be very careful. If such a person comes to you, say no because the consequences are so dire,” said Chilabi.
“As police, we will apprehend you, charge and arrest you. When you appear in court, it’s you as an individual. Mr X who sponsored you and gave you that K50 will not even bother to come and say ‘please may I be a surety for this youth whom you have arrested’, we’ve never had that. No one will come and offer to be surety so that someone can be assigned police bond, they will just be quiet and you will remain languishing. So my message to the youths, please be careful. Ask yourself, is it worth risking that I can engage myself in this? That is the message to the youths, say no to violence. Because violence is non-selective, the innocent suffer and the consequences are severe, we will apply the penal code and apprehend you.”