President Edgar Lungu says he will consider constituting a commission of inquiry into the recent spate of gassing attacks that have rocked most parts of the country.
And President Lungu has directed law enforcement agencies to ensure that political violence is arrested for good, saying enough is enough.
Meanwhile, President Lungu has called on all parliamentarians to “sangwapo” as they consider Constitution Amendment Bill No.10 in the current session of Parliament.
Speaking when he addressed Parliament on the progress made in the application of national values and principles, Friday, President Lungu thanked the men and women in uniform for their efforts in restoring order and peace in the country.
“Mr Speaker, at this juncture, I wish to thank the men and women in uniform for their gallant efforts to restore order and peace. Their work is not over. Neither is ours. As commander-in-chief of the defense forces and head of state and government, I want to promise Zambians that the enemies of our people will be crushed and buried. To this effect, I am seriously considering constituting a commission of inquiry to get to the bottom of these gassing and mob attacks, and be rest assured that all the culprits will be brought to book regardless of their standing in society. The enemy will surely be defeated, without any doubt, and life will return to normal for our people sooner than later,” President Lungu said.
The Head of State warned traditional and church leaders whom he said had been fueling mob attacks to stop or risk facing the law.
“Regrettably, in some cases, my government is aware that some traditional leaders and church leaders have both directly or indirectly fueled and instigated these mob attacks. It has been observed however that the enemy has shifted focus to the rural areas where false information is now being given to the public with a view to inciting citizens to rise and cause public disorder. Let me thank the headmen, headwomen, religious and community leaders, civil servants and individual citizens who have played a major role in rescuing victims that have almost been lynched by mobs. Your Samaritan gesture of citizen patriotism and good neighborliness is highly commendable. In the same vein, let me strongly warn those headmen and women, religious, civic and all community leaders encouraging mob justice that the law will soon catch up with you. The state shall catch up with the enemies of the state and isolate them from the Zambian population,” he said.
“Mr Speaker, it is more than three months ago since Zambia woke up to a horrible reality that the country was under attack from unknown people who not just inflicted physical harm but also applied psychological warfare on our people. The launch pad was Chingola but since then many parts of Zambia have experienced this inhuman phenomenon of gas attacks on our people, often culminating in loss of lives at the hands of mobs, acting in the name of ‘community justice’. These coordinated gas attacks have triggered irrational mob attacks on suspects, vandalism of public property, death of innocent lives and constant fear among our people in many communities. We have witnessed merciless killings of innocent people in not only Chingola but also in other parts of our motherland. We have equally witnessed merciless reactions from citizens after these killings. We have witnessed spraying of chemicals on families, school children, and the public in general.”
And President Lungu said it was unacceptable for the country to continue losing lives to political violence.
“The country has equally witnessed violence during elections. We need to make a deliberate efforts to work with one another for the benefit of our motherland. We have one choice and that only choice is to succeed as one nation. But we can only succeed in tackling the challenges we face as a nation, if we accept to see ourselves as ‘one Zambia, one nation, and one people’. Elections should not divide us into perpetual political hostility and warring camps! It goes without saying that we cannot improve the lives of our people through political violence. It is disheartening that we continue experiencing violence during elections. It is an abomination that we should even lose lives because of an election. One Zambian life lost is one life too many,” he said.
“Let me sound a stern warning that enough is enough. I direct all law enforcement agencies to arrest the situation once and for all. There should be no sacred cows in administering justice. Similarly, we should have no sacrificial lambs! The law should always take its full course on perpetrators of political violence or mob attacks, regardless of one’s political affiliation or any other consideration. Tribalism and hate speech has no place in zambia. Politicians, please stop it! Stop it!”
President Lungu also said he wanted ZICTA and police to work together to track down the abusers of social media.
“Formulation of stringent laws and enforcement could deter some of our people in the habit of circulating inappropropriate materials. Yet again, culprits of these indiscretions cannot be brought to book if the information technology regulator and the police do not coordinate to track them down,” President Lungu said.
Meanwhile, the President said he hoped all members of parliament would support Bill 10 as it comes up for consideration.
“It is in this spirit that my administration continues implementing legal reforms aimed at addressing emerging issues that hinge on democracy and the rule of law. I am glad to report that my administration has made some significant progress in fostering legal reforms in addressing known lacunae. For example, I am pleased to report that many patriotic Zambians and stakeholders have taken interest in reading and assimilating the proposed provisions in the Constitutional Amendment Bill number 10. I hope everyone will sangwapo [participate],” said President Lungu.