LUSAKA Province Minister Bowman Lusambo says he does not report to Home Affairs Minister Stephen Kampyongo for him to take his advice on how to conduct himself in the COVID-19 night operations.

And Lusambo, who is also Kabushi PF member of parliament, has told people who accuse him of abusing authority in his COVID-19 enforcement methods that he is using himself as the law.

Last week, Kampyongo observed that police were using excessive force in handling defiant citizens and went further to say not even himself, as Home Affairs Minister, had the power to order police to whip citizens for breaching COVID-19 prevention measures.

But in an interview, Lusambo said as head of government in Lusaka, he was not Kampyongo’s junior and he only took instructions from President Edgar Lungu.

“Do I report to Honourable Kampyongo? He is my fellow minister. I don’t take instructions from Honourable Kampyongo, I take instructions from my boss the President through the Constitution of the Republic of Zambia. I am Minister for Lusaka Province. In Lusaka Province, I have the police commissioner, I have the army, I have the Zambia Air Force, I have the intelligence, I have all the ministries represented in my province. And I operate with the law. I don’t report to my brother, no. I have my own leadership style, I report to the President. All of us we are ministers. Honourable Kampyongo has got his own portfolio, let him do his job as Home Affairs Minister, he is doing very well and let us also perform our duties,” Lusambo said.

A fortnight ago, Lusambo, who was addressing Ndola residents, said human rights had been suspended and ordered police to beat people who engage in social gatherings.

“I have heard people say ‘human rights, human rights’, there is nothing like human rights now. I find you in a bar, timenya (we beat). Dare me and see what will happen. There is this human rights talk, to us, that is nothing. This is a serious fight that we have. So go in a bar and we find you, timenya. In Lusaka, we will not compromise. So here in Kabushi, these same human rights activists, come and go in a bar, you will see what we will do to you. Timenya, nothing like human rights here,” Lusambo said.

But in this interview, the minister denied ever giving instructions to police.

“There is no one who has instructed police officers to whip people. Police officers react to events when they come. I am in charge of Lusaka! I can call the Commissioner of Police in my province, I can call the education officer in charge in my province, that is my responsibility. My work as the Minister of Lusaka Province is backed by the Constitution. When you go to the amended Constitution of 2016, Cap 117, you will find the job of the provincial minister, it will be outlined. If you go to Cap 150, it will explain to you the responsibility of the provincial minister. I am the head of government in the province so we work under the Constitution, we just don’t work from without,” he said.

Lusambo said he was operating as a law within himself and he was going to shut down malls that disregard his directives.

“I want to give this message to all shopping malls that I will be passing through shopping malls, especially here in Lusaka District. If I find that a shopping mall or a shop is attending to people without masks, whether it’s Shoprite, Game Stores, or any shop, we are going to close that shop immediately. People will say ‘which law are you going to use Bowman?’ I will use a law within myself,” he said.

Lusambo wondered whether the Human Rights Commission and the Law Association of Zambia wanted Lusaka citizens to die in the name of rights.

“Does the Human Rights Commission and Law Association of Zambia want my people to die in Lusaka? We don’t whip people, the police they work under the Constitution and whatever things that the police are doing, they are doing (them) within the law. And ever since I have gone to accompany police in their operations, I have never seen police being brutal. So for those people who are trying to condemn the police, they are just making a mistake because the police are working nicely. And for me, I understand the gravity of this pandemic, it is not child’s play. This is not a film and we are trying by all means to sensitise our people to implement the measures which the President has given to the people of Zambia,” said Lusambo.