Home Affairs Minister Stephen Kampyongo says South African authorities have assured government that xenophobia will soon be controlled.
And Kampyongo has warned Zambians living in South Africa to remain calm and avoid lawlessness because they cannot be guaranteed protection.
Meanwhile, Kampyongo says any protests which PF cadres wish to hold should be done within the confines of the law.
Speaking during a media briefing, Thursday, Kampyongo said government had been engaging with the South African government since xenophobic attacks begun.
“We as Zambia must also appreciate that South Africa is a sovereign state with a functional government and functional structures of governance and so we continue to engage these structures and ensure that they do what is necessary. We have been interacting with them from the time these events started unfolding and they have been giving us assurances and we are hoping that sooner than later, the situation could be under control,” Kampyongo said.
“We as Zambia are still part of the TROIKA organ on defense, politics and security as outgoing chair of the organ. Zimbabwe is now the current chair with Botswana as incoming chair of the organ and so, through that structure, we are also engaging. We are grateful that President Mnangagwa is presently in South Africa where he had gone to attend the economic forum. So he is taking advantage of that time to engage South Africa and see how quickly we can get to resolve these matters at a regional level. And so my appeal is to our people to appreciate that government works in a structured way, we have allowed civil activism against what is obtaining which is permissible but we are not going to tolerate lawlessness as a way of condemning other forms of lawlessness, it doesn’t work like that. So yes, indeed we are concerned but we are also optimistic that amicable solutions will be found. The major concern of everyone of us is that its not the first time its happening, and so we need to make sure that we nip it in the bud so that we focus on developing our various nations.”
And Kampyongo warned Zambians living in South Africa to remain calm and avoid lawlessness because they could not be guaranteed protection.
“For the Zambian community in South Africa, yes indeed we appreciate they have shown solidarity among themselves and the spirit of being a brother’s keeper is the way to go but we appeal to them not to engage in lawlessness because it will then be difficult for us to defend them and protect their rights whilst there. They can be solid together as they have shown. I was just sharing with the minister of the other Zambians who want to challenge those that are involved in xenophobia in a confrontational manner. Again that doesn’t work out because were you confront each other, there are definitely going to be casualties. We appeal to them to remain calm and be civil in airing their grievances,” he said.
“With regards to our truck drivers and the cross border traders, we can caution them to remain calm for now, we know that their livelihoods are affected, we know that most of these cross border traders have to send their children to school, they have to get school fees from what they do but when a situation is like this, you know for us the sanctity of life for us is paramount, we have to make sure that our people are protected at all times and the little investments that they go into are equally protected. So we appeal to them to remain calm for now, we shall let them know when the situation is back to normal so that they may resume their normal businesses.”
Meanwhile, Kampyongo said the anti-Chishimba Kambwili protests which PF cadres had planned should be done within the confines of the law.
“Processions are guided by law, the Public Order Act is very clear on how processions are guided and similarly if there was need for the Patriotic Front, who have been having their processions guided by the police and within the law, if they did appeal, because they have to notify the police, there are no exemptions. And I want to make it very clear that here as a country, we are a multiparty democracy and there are people who are leaders of these political groupings and if there is a time that this country has allowed freedom of expression, we have allowed divergent views to be heard, we have allowed opposition to engage us in constructive criticism in a structured fashion but at the end of the day, the responsibility of the Ministry of Home Affairs is to ensure that all citizens are protected with their property, without exemption. So there is no one who will be allowed to have their property destroyed, to have their property pounced on for being in the opposition, and otherwise we will be courting anarchy. So basically, all citizens have got the right to be protected by this government regardless of what political affiliation they have,” said Kampyongo.