Home Affairs Minister Stephen Kampyongo has advised all political parties wishing to have meetings on the Copperbelt to put them on hold because of the unstable security situation in that province.

And Kampyongo says police look beyond the collar when carrying out their work because some people want to abuse Christianity to break the law, which will not be allowed.

But NDC leader Chishimba Kambwili says it is unacceptable that Bishop Joseph Khazila of Life Gospel Cathedral Ministry in Chingola is still in police custody for merely asking people to pray and be careful as they go to sleep.

Speaking to journalists in Chingola, Monday, Kampyongo said now was not the best time to hold political meetings on the Copperbelt.

“The long term plan is that we continue working on the police population ratio which hasn’t yet gotten to the desirable level. But we also have to be mindful that we are competing for the same revenue resources but we have been assured by the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, His Excellency the President of Zambia and my counterpart at the Ministry of Finance that we shall see what can be done. You saw last year we beefed up the numbers,” Kampyongo said.

“But we are still able to do within the limited numbers that we have and the human resource that we currently have is capable of dealing with such situations. And I want to just assure the people of Chingola that we have come here to get them to enjoy peace and for those perpetrators, their days are numbered and some of them will, unfortunately, be collateral damage. It’s a serious operation. I also want to appeal to those who want to come and do political activities on the Copperbelt that for now, it’s not the best time. We want to first make sure that Copperbelt stabilises and any political activities, for now, are being discouraged.”

The minister also warned criminals on the Copperbelt that their days were numbered.

And Kampyongo said police would not allow people to abuse Christianity.

He warned that the law would be implemented fairly without regard for one’s standing in society.

“The police did interrogate the man in question (Bishop Kazhila) and I am informed that he should be appearing in court tomorrow (today) and what will follow shall be made known to the members of the public but I made a clarion call, I think I remember you hosted me on one of your radio stations where I was pleading with people to be responsible enough in terms of the information they churn out, both on social media, on radio stations or indeed TV stations. We don’t look at the status of an individual when it comes to law enforcement, no one is above the law. You have seen politicians, you have seen clergymen being subjected to the same laws so what I can say for now is that this is a matter that will be determined by the courts of law. The police have opened the docket and it will proceed to the courts,” said Kampyongo.

“Like I have said, we regulate and register all churches through the Registrar of Societies under the Ministry of Home Affairs for one very important reason. We know yes we are a Christian nation, but we know also, people can take advantage of Christianity to do wrong things, that’s why they are registered with us at home affairs. So when they break the law, you have seen us deport people that have come here to masquerade as men of the collar and for us, we look beyond the collar, that is our work.”

However, in a video statement, Monday, Kambwili said it was clear that Bishop Khazila’s arrest was politically motivated.

“The law is very clear that you can only put a man behind bars for 48 hours, after that, he must be taken to court. If he has not been taken to court, he must be released unconditionally. Now, what is it that Bishop Kazhila has done to deserve to be in police custody from Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday today, five days in police custody. And what is disturbing that the Minister of Home Affairs is also in Chingola so meaning, therefore, that it is not about what Bishop Kazhila said, it is about politics,” said Kambwili.

“As far as I am concerned, Bishop Kazhila has not committed any serious offence for him to be treated in this inhuman kind of way. Please Kampyongo, grow up and for once behave like a minister. Suppose it was you, or your son, if it was your relative being treated in that manner? Ministers are there to correct things when they are wrong but how can a minister be part of a wrong? Please release Bishop Kazhila immediately. And people of Chingola, NGOs, the church, where are you? You are so quiet…but don’t be surprised, elections are coming. Instead of arresting the people who are killing others, you say they are turning into cats and instead you go and arrest a man of God for asking people to pray and be careful as they sleep, this is extremely disappointing.”