Monze Central UPND member of parliament Jack Mwiimbu says the high number of police check points dotted across Zambia is negatively affecting the country’s economy and has reduced the country to a laughing stock in the region.

And Choma Central UPND member of parliament Cornelius Mweetwa has attributed the perceived high corruption levels in the Police Service to poor conditions of service.

Meanwhile, Minister of Home Affairs Stephen Kampyongo says Zambia currently has a deficit of over 14,000 holding capacity for inmates in correctional facilities.

Speaking during his debate in Parliament, Tuesday, Mwiimbu said Zambia should not be made a police state following the increasing number of road blocks, which remained an inconvenience to motorists.

“I also want my colleague, the Minister of Home Affairs, to ensure that members of the public are protected from certain unscrupulous police officers who man road blocks in this country. Members of the public have complained against the many checkpoints that have been established and these check points are for one specific purpose, they have become ATMs, Mr Chairman! We should not allow that. I can give you an example from Kafue to Lusaka, in most instances, you will find there are six check points. Every five kilometres, there is a road block and they are checking the same things, and members of the public are being inconvenienced! These road blocks are a cost to the economy of this country. We have become a laughing stock in the SADC region! You travel throughout the SADC region, what is obtaining is not correct. From Livingstone to Kitwe you may find more than 50 road blocks, is that correct? It shouldn’t be a police state,” Mwiimbu complained.

He charged that the police had contributed greatly to the breakdown of the rule of law in the country.

“It’s very unfortunate to note that the Zambia Police Service, which is supposed to ensure that there is peace and stability in this country, that there is adherence to the rule of law; that there is protection of the Bill of rights…the Zambia Police Service is an institution that has been breaching the provisions of the current Constitution under Article 193. The Zambia Police Service has failed the people of this country! The Zambia Police Service, Mr Chairman, has contributed greatly to the breakdown of law and order in this country. The PF cadres have become a law on their own, any time anywhere, they can decide to demonstrate without notifying the police and this has been happening with impunity. This is our country! All of us, we look forward to the protection of Zambia Police,” said Mwiimbu.

“We urge the Zambia Police to be professional, in certain instances, they even allowed individuals and political parties to proceed with the so-called permit to hold rallies at the last minute they will cancel, claiming that they have no manpower, but they have manpower to disperse the political rally if members of the public go ahead; where do the manpower come from? The law is that if the police do not have manpower, you request the conveners to provide marshals so that they can go ahead to have their meetings. And I am also aware that in most instances for rallies for UPND, the police don’t even come, we provide our own marshals, we provide our own security; why are they abusing the authority? Instead of providing peace, security and stability, they have been the ones, Mr Chairman, ensuring that there is no peace in this country, why should we allow that?”

And in his debate, Mweetwa, who is also a former police officer, bemoaned the poor working conditions for cops in the country.

“It is high time that this government looks at organs of government that keep the State machinery keep going and also maintain the peace, law and order in this country. At moment, those officers are working under difficult circumstances, no wonder, year in year out, TIZ Bribe Payers and Corruption Index names Zambia Police Traffic Division as being corrupt! It is because of poor conditions of service, yet you have other people within the same government living and waxing in luxury who do less work than the work that police officers do to preserve life, property and peace of this country. When you see the pay slip of a police officer, Mr Chairman, it is abhorrent, and someone is saying that is why I left? That is not the reason why I left, I just left to come to this House so that I can speak for them because they don’t have the union,” said Mweetwa.

“We are calling on this government not only to need and use the police on by-elections, sometimes at the detriment of the opposition, but to use police as partners in development and the preservation of peace and unity in this country and, therefore, consider to pay them proportionate to the work that they do. Mr Chairman, I would like to talk about the injustice, which is happening in Zambia Police where officers who get a meagre salary, as low as K3,000 (per month), and then they labour to serve and be able to send themselves to school. A constable sends him or herself to school and gets a degree and returns to the station and continues to work, year in, year out without promotion, without being placed commensurate to their level of education; this is demoralizing officers in the Zambia Police and the Minister and the high command would do well to rectify this. Promotion should not be based on connections, it should be based on merit and qualification.”

Meanwhile, Kampyongo announced that the Ministry was set to construct four more correctional facilities.

“We are sitting with more than 22,600 inmates against the total holding capacity of about 8,000 plus, which is what we are grappling with. Like I said, we are doing something for the first time in the history of this country. To decongest and improve the welfare of inmates in correctional facilities, the Service has embarked on the provision of habitable and conducive correctional infrastructure. In this regard, the Ministry, through the Service, has identified four sites in the four districts: Siavonga, Kaputa, Lukulu and Luangwa for the construction of new correctional facility centres and one reformatory school for the juveniles. The Service has, therefore, allocated an initial amount of K500,000 in the 2020 (national) budget for this programme and K1 million has been set aside for the infrastructure rehabilitation programme,” said Kampyongo.