President Edgar Lungu has asked the Zambia Police not to be used by politicians who want to get into power through illegitimate means.

And Home Affairs Minister Stephen Kampyongo says social media has become a security threat which the Defense Ministry must take interest in.

Speaking during the 2019 Zambia Police Service superior officers’ annual ball, Friday, President Lungu challenged the Zambia Police to remain professional by upholding the Zambian Constitution and being loyal to government.

He said as the country was heading towards the 2021 general elections, there was need to curb the culture of guns and other forms of electoral violence.

“Let me recognize the important role that our officers played during various by elections which were held throughout the country in 2019. The officers worked tirelessly to ensure that peace prevailed during these polls. Indeed, your work is treasured by many peace-loving Zambians. Inspector General of Police, bear in mind that political activities are likely to scale up ahead of next year’s general elections. Therefore, there is need to ensure that you prepare the officers adequately to maintain law and order and nip the culture of violence in the bud. As we head towards the 2021 general elections, we should do everything possible to curb the culture of guns, and other forms of electoral violence which we have witnessed in recent polls,” President Lungu said.

“As your Commander-in-Chief, I expect you to work even harder to ensuring that law and order continues to prevail at all times. In line with your 2020 theme in which you have expressed desire to improve on your operational performance, I challenge you to remain resolute, professional, non-partisan, loyal to the Zambian constitution, the government and the people of Zambia. Do not allow yourselves to be used by people with intentions to get to power through illegitimate or dubious means. We are a peace loving nation hence the need to cherish and uphold this treasure. I further wish to take this opportunity to note that government has purchased new uniforms, specialized riot equipment, and indeed assorted equipment to enable you serve the nation adequately, especially during the 2021 general elections. This is also aimed at boosting the morale of officers as they execute their mandate.”

President Edgar Lungu, Lameck Magani, Inspector General of police Kakoma Kanganja and DPP Lillian Shawa Siyunji take to a dance floor during the 2019 police annual ball held at ZNS Chamba Valley in Lusaka on January 10, 2020 – Picture by Tenson Mkhala

He said the PF government had made significant improvement to the welfare of the Zambia police since it came into power.

“It is gratifying to note that my government has made significant improvements to the welfare of our men and women in uniform. This is a song we keep singing to ourselves, me and the Minister of Home Affairs because we have done it. Others are just talking! We know what the police force was before it became a police service, before we became government. So when we talk about it, don’t think that we beating our drum too much, it is a fact! We have all witnessed a number of new police facilities including houses built across the country to ease operational challenges that officers go through,” President Lungu said.

“My government is committed to supporting the Zambia Police Service in its quest to create a smart and value centered police service capable of enforcing the law for a secure and peaceful environment in Zambia. This entails having a disciplined Zambia Police Service anchored on the core values of integrity, accountability, impartiality, transparency, human dignity, teamwork, confidentiality and patriotism. Therefore, there is need for you to meet the aspirations of the Zambian people by exercising professionalism.”

President Lungu warned that he would not condone perpetrators of gender based violence in the Zambia Police.

“A challenge which is currently confronting our communities, including the Zambia Police Service, is gender-based violence. Given that you are the custodians of the law, I will not condone perpetrators of gender-based violence in the service. You are expected to be role models in society by exhibiting exemplary behavior and addressing your family matters in your respective homes and communities amicably. I, therefore, urge our men and women in uniform to desist from this vice. Let us ensure the protection of our women and young girls, who are in most cases the victims. This is not to say that men are not victims of gender based violence. There are always amicable and better ways of resolving these domestic squabbles than resorting to uncivilized ways,” he said.

And Kampyongo called on police to step up the fight against cyber-crime in 2020.

“We need, this year, to up the game in curbing what has no longer become a nuisance but a security threat, the use of social media. Your Excellency, I was just chatting with the honorable Minister of Defence that ‘now your troops can be deployed on assignments on social media’. Yes, it may look enjoyable and entertaining to some but that’s how security begins to be compromised. My clarion call is that it shouldn’t be business as usual this year. 2020, against cyber criminals! The Commander-in-Chief’s office has not been spared in terms of attacks and we can only take as much,” said Kampyongo.

Zambia Police Spokesperson Esther Mwaata Katongo speaks during the 2019 annual ball held at ZNS Chamba Valley in Lusaka on January 10, 2020 Picture by Tenson Mkhala

And speaking earlier, Inspector General of Police Kakoma Kanganja reiterated the need for the police force to recruit 3,000 police officers in readiness of the 2021 general elections.

“As we are aware, the country will be holding general elections next year, 2021. This means that starting this year, there will be a lot of political activities. My command is aware of emerging political forces working in conspiracy to elicit undesirable behaviors inimical to the peace and good order of our country. At the same time, we have observed with concern the emerging crime trends such as use of guns and other offensive weapons perpetuated by some suspected political cadres. Further we regret that some individuals have gone to the extent of daring police by posting their images on social media whilst armed and dressed in regalia which resembles that of the police and the military with intent to cause fear and alarm to the general public,” said Kanganja.

“Your Excellency, the gravity of events we anticipate to take place as we head towards the general elections, we need to build up on our numbers. It is in this respect that we humbly request, Your Excellency, to consider granting us special authority to recruit 3,000 officers this year, so that we have enough man power to prepare adequately and be able to police the 2021 tripartite elections.”

PF cadre Charity Banda at the 2019 police annual ball held at ZNS Chamba Valley in Lusaka on January 10, 2020 – Picture by Tenson Mkhala 
Police officers dance at the 2019 police annual ball held at ZNS Chamba Valley in Lusaka on January 10, 2020 – Picture by Tenson Mkhala 
Former Home Affairs Minister Ronnie Shikapwasha at the 2019 police annual ball held at ZNS Chamba Valley in Lusaka on January 10, 2020 – Picture by Tenson Mkhala 
Home Affairs Minister Stephen Kampyongo with his wife dance at the 2019 police annual ball held at ZNS Chamba Valley in Lusaka on January 10, 2020 – Picture by Tenson Mkhala