Police deputy spokesperson Rae Hamoonga says it is true that officers receive “lawful instructions” from President Edgar Lungu and his Minister of Home Affairs to carry out their duties.

And Hamoonga says Zambians must be careful whom they elect because as police officers, they are charged with the responsibility of protecting that person at all costs, even though he is Poor People’s party leader Alex Muliokela.

Speaking when he featured on Pan African radio’s Legal Affairs programme, Sunday, Hamoonga said as Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, the Head of State is entitled to give orders to the police.

He said this when show host Fabian Manda’s asked if he could confirm allegations that the Zambia Police Service was operating under instructions from State House.

“Yes, that’s very true. But, of course, those instructions have to be lawful. For us in our eyes, as Zambia Police, when we see the President, we are not looking at an individual, we are looking at the Zambian people. When we go to elections, what happens? People flaunt themselves and Zambian people elect somebody from there to be the President, so this gives the President powers to be Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces. And as Commander-In-Chief, he gives orders. There are many examples of when the President has given orders. He can tell us, for instance, ‘I don’t want to see this thing’ and it changes. [So], an order is an order,” Hamoonga said.

And Hamoonga said citizens would be careful whom they elect.

“Security is not something which is constant. For instance, we are seated here, today, but there is no guarantee that tomorrow at this time people will be seated here, maybe there could be a riot outside. So, security is something that is not constant. We cannot guarantee that you are going to have a rally when notify us, but we will try by all means and when we see that things are not working well, we advise to say ‘well, this thing cannot go ahead’. For instance, people have been crying about the President! Let me be very practical, like in a campaign set-up where there is a by-election and you want to have a rally and the President says: ‘I am coming there that day’, it means you have to move out because that is Zambia, which is coming there! This is why you even see that when the President is moving, he does not move alone because he’s holding the interest of the entire nation. We have all deposited our interests in this one particular person who is the Republican President,” Hamoonga said.

“So, when you have all these leaders moving around to be elected, this is why people should be careful what they are electing, they should choose properly. Us, as police, once that person is elected as President, even if it’s Muliokela, if he’s elected as President, we shall protect him. Whoever you are going to give us, our job is to protect him/her because that’s the interest of Zambia. So, we are going to protect the interest of Zambia because he’s the President. In fact, once a President is inaugurated, even the people we see moving with him, do you see them? No, that is because that person has now become a Head of State and he’s holding the interest of the Zambian people, so he must be protected by the police.”

Meanwhile, Hamoonga said the police is not selective when it comes to protecting citizens.

“For us, as police, we consider all members of the various political parties in the country as Zambian citizens. The Constitution of Zambia gives us powers to protect all citizens regardless of their political affiliation. For us, we look at all of them as citizens of Zambia. The law is blind, we don’t say ‘this one is PF and this one is UPND’, from the eyes of the police and from the legal point of view, they are citizens who need to be protected by us as Zambia Police. When we are maintaining law and order, we don’t choose who to discipline. Our role is to ensure that law and order is maintained in the country, there is peace and order,” said Hamoonga.