Lusaka Province Police Commissioner Nelson Phiri says the command wants to ensure that there is peace in the city, that is why there is heavy police presence in the Central Business District.
But leader of the opposition in Parliament Jack Mwiimbu has charged that the officers have been deployed to protect PF cadres who are breaking the law.
On Sunday, UPND deputy national youth chairperson Gilbert Liswaniso threatened that the party youths would be in town on Wednesday to get rid of “PF thugs” from bus stops and markets to ensure that sanity was restored in public places.
“As a peace and law abiding political party, we are calling the PF regime to immediately remove their thugs from bus stops and markets. The struggling marketers, bus drivers, bus conductors, and the travelling public are suffering a lot of humiliation through unnecessary levies and taxes from these PF hooligans. As UPND youths, we shall protect the suffering masses and ensure sanity is restored in these public places by Wednesday this week. Our starting point will be Lusaka’s intercity bus stop, City Market, Katondo and Lumumba bus stop. And make sure these are handed over to the Lusaka City Council who can run them effectively and enhance revenue collection,” stated Liswaniso.
Acting inspector general of police Eugene Sibote, however, warned Liswaniso to desist from issuing such statements because they could incite mayhem.
And Lusaka residents woke up to heavy police presence in the central business district, Wednesday.
When asked to explain this in an interview, Phiri said the officers were conducting general patrols to ensure that members of the public conducted their businesses in a peaceful manner.
“There are general patrols to prevent crime. I thought people want peace. Again when there is no peace, you complain. When we want to give you the peace, you complain now what are we going to do? We are making sure that people go about their business peacefully,” said Phiri.
But in a point of order yesterday, Mwiimbu charged that the officers were protecting PF cadres.
“Mr Speaker, I raise on a very serious Constitutional point of order. Mr Speaker you are aware that all of us, members of parliament, before we assume our duties as members of parliament we swear before you, to defend to the constitution of the republic of Zambia and any other laws that are made thereunder. Mr Speaker, I have noticed with alarm, the propensity on the part of the PF government not to enforce the law discriminatory! Mr Speaker what I have noticed is that the PF whenever an issue arises where PF members are involved in breaking the law, the PF government will not take any action against PF members. Mr Speaker you may not be aware that the has been a very topical issue this week and last week, where members of the UPND had threatened to assist the police [to] police bus stations and markets. Mr Speaker, instead of responding to ensure that law and order in the markets and bus station is adhered to, the Minister of Home Affairs, through the police have unleashed the police with a view to arrest law abiding citizens who are not happy that there is a break down of law and order in the market,” Mwiimbu said.
“As if that is not enough, Mr Speaker, we are aware that there is a law which was passed by this House pertaining to the management of markets and bus stations. The PF cadres have taken over bus stations and markets with impunity! The are harassing members of the public at bus stations and at markets. The PF has not done anything about this matter. Mr Speaker what has happened today? There are hundreds and hundreds of police men in town, bus stations protecting PF cadres who are breaking the law. Instead of the police ensuring that these PF cadres are removed from markets and bus stations, they are being protected and assured that they should be in those bus stations. On the Copperbelt, Mr Speaker, the PF cadres even demonstrated! Those (Copperbelt PF cadres) who are operating in bus stations seeking police protection and the police have brought up to protect those who are breaking the law.”
He wondered whether it was in order to protect law breakers.
“Mr Speaker, are they in order taking into account what the Minister of Home Affairs had said yesterday, that they will not allow any disorder in this country? Are they in order to perpetrate this habit of Lawlessness where the PF cadres are the law in this country? And members of the public have complained, are they in order Mr Speaker? Are they in order to continue perpetrating lawlessness and supporting law breakers just because they are members of the ruling party, are they in order?” asked Mwiimbu.
But in his ruling, Second Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Mwimba Malama asked Mwiimbu to file a written question to the Minister of Local Government.