Defence Minister Davies Chama says the deployment of soldiers in the capital city does not mean an immediate stop to the gassing incidences reported in several parts of Lusaka because criminals are changing tactics.
In an interview, Chama said it is not possible to instantly take out criminals behind the gassing incidences by the mere presence of soldiers in some residential areas of Lusaka.
“Logically speaking, you think that criminals can be removed instantly because we have deployed soldiers? You think criminal activities will stop? Criminals change tactics and what we are trying to do is make sure that we provide the necessary security for the Zambian people. Even in developed countries, where they have the best of police forces, the best of the intelligence services, the best of the security wings and the best of the army, still terrorism occurs in those countries. Of course in due course, they are arrested once we perfect and see what tactics they are using to destabilize the country. Even in countries where there is proper security, still more, terrorist activities do occur so Zambia is not an exception. Unless you tell me that we can deploy the whole country; Zambia is a big country, it is 752,000 square kilometers in terms of size and we can’t police each and every place per say but we are on top of things to make sure that we are following up on these criminal activities,” Chama said.
Asked when the soldiers would be withdrawn from the city, Chama said he could not disclose.
“I cannot tell you operational details. The President saw it fit to deploy the soldiers because these things were getting out of hand and the police need to be supplemented so that the Zambian people’s lives and properties are safeguarded. So at an appropriate time, when we contain the situation, when most of these criminals are arrested…When cholera broke out, the soldiers were deployed, and once that phenomenon was sorted out, the soldiers pulled out of towns. So even in due course, the soldiers will be drawn back,” Chama explained.
When asked to explain why the soldiers used armoured troop carriers meant for war to patrol the city, Chama said that should not bother the members of public.
“That is operational detail, let us not discuss that. Are those vehicles stamping on people? It is only criminals who will be scared when they see those vehicles. But people who want their lives to be secured, they will be happy to see them. What type of equipment we are using should not bother people because we are not at war, and it is just for their movements. I haven’t seen those vehicles you are saying. We have not deployed those vehicles on the city, not at all,” Chama said.
When further asked if the Ministry had received reports that soldiers deployed were harassing members of the public, Chama denied the claims.
“Not at the moment. Our soldiers are very professional. They are conducting themselves in a professional manner. You know ,criminals will always complain because they want people’s lives not to be secured. So those who are determined to make sure that they continue to destabilize, they will be uncomfortable with the soldiers’ presence on the streets. You will find one or two complaints all the time,” said Chama.