Former president Rupiah Banda has lamented how George Lungu and other police officers who served him were fired after he lost the 2011 election.

Speaking at Lungu’s funeral service St Margaret UCZ Church in Lusaka’s Kaunda Square, Thursday, Banda said it was not right to get rid of good, professional staff simply because they served a previous government.

“Perhaps this is the good opportunity for me to say this that I hope and pray that as we go forward, what happened to him and other officers who worked with me who were sent away from their job only because they were in the previous government should stop. Our country must learn to go forward and to embrace everyone who has worked for them in the past. I pray that one day when I am gone, that my men, the people with whom I worked with, will continue to be officers and to be promoted for Zambia because it is Zambia that trained them. It is Zambia that they are serving…and most importantly, my two senior officers Mr Stephen Mayoko who unfortunately also was thrown away from his job with all kind of malicious, false reports made to our leaders about them,” Banda said.

“Many of them are suffering but I hope that they understand that that’s life…I hope our country will learn lessons. We are not criticizing anybody. We are just saying we are sorry that our leaders are being misled about these people. These are police officers for Zambia and he was one of the best this country has ever had. How many can stand here and say they have served five presidents and no one of them ever left a report which is negative about him? How come now, suddenly, Stephen Mayoko is not a good man? ‘Sack him, give him his terminal benefits’. ‘George Lungu is a bad man so sack him’. Surely, can’t we all live together and keep this country in peace? I am sure there are so many officers who worked with him and would loved to be here but perhaps they are scared that what happened to him might happen to them. It’s not a good thing to our country.”

He described Lungu as a loyal human being who was an asset to Zambia.

“I sat here listening to the speech by friends of George Lungu. His friends, family, wife and children and they all have said exactly what I thought of him. The loyal and honest man to his family. First and foremost you must be loyal to your family. You must be loyal to your wife, your children, before you can be loyal to other people. So this gentleman, I have listen to everybody talking and everything you said is testimony to what I know of him. He and other officers just came in front of me and they were people who looked after me when I was the vice-president and the President. I didn’t know him and I didn’t know all those who were assigned as my bodyguards but I can tell you that I do not remember any day when George came to me to speak ill of other officers. All the staff around me were genuinely loyal to one another and loyal to me and therefore to the Country. I was so touched to listen to friends of late Lungu talking because us Zambians unfortunately, you can think that somebody is your friend [but] as soon as you move, they will talk ill of you,” recounted Banda.