HOME Affairs Minister Stephen Kampyongo says the confusion surrounding the police bicycles was created by a coordinated propaganda team which is hell bent on maligning government officials.

But Kampyongo has warned that police and ZICTA will soon identify the people behind social media sites which were used to spread falsehood about the cost of bicycles.

Speaking at a press briefing at Government Complex in Lusaka, Wednesday, Kampyongo said the confusion surrounding the bicycles started when UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema posted a picture on his Facebook page and asked his followers to guess the cost.

“The Genesis of this issue started with Mr Hakainde Hichilema’s Facebook posting. Mr Hakainde who has rebranded himself as a ‘yo bally’ posted a picture of a female officer on a mountain bicycle with a comment that ‘our officers are looking nice, but guess how much each one of these bicycles is costing.’ Following that, propaganda machinery was triggered to the extent that some individuals masquerading as management at the ministry had confirmed that. They alleged that I as Minister of Home Affairs had actually confirmed that the Zambia Police Service had procured these bicycles at the cost of US $700 per bicycle and the quantity being 1, 000 bicycles and they calculated the totals,” he said.

Kampyongo said his ministry had already communicated the mistake on the actual bicycle donors to both the Japanese and Indian embassies before News Diggers published a story.

“Our police officers are making very good progress. They have gone to all the Facebook sites which were utilized and I want to inform the members of the public that Facebook is collaborating very well and is cooperating with the Zambia Police Service and other Law Enforcement Agencies like ZICTA because it would appear there is a coordinated agenda by people manufacturing falsehoods and maligning government officials as a way of justifying lawlessness,” Kampyongo said.

He maintained that 30 bicycles were donated by the Indian Government while 100 were bought at a cost of US $242 per unit.

“There were 100 bicycles which came with camping equipment for police-community services. In addition, on 14th August 2019, the Indian Government did donate about 30 bicycles and we are grateful to them for that very important gesture. It was shocking to hear comments from people like Nevers Mumba, the president of MMD trying to lecture us on how diplomatic etiquette is observed and making [it seem like] the minister has spoken about an embassy. That is incorrect. The first time I am speaking on this matter officially is now. The 100 bicycles were part of 100 units of camping equipment consisting of mountain bikes, tents, camp beds and sleeping bags. The cost of each unit was US $242 dollars,” Kampyongo said.

And Kampyongo has warned that those who wanted to make his ministry a playing ground for spreading falsehood would have themselves to blame.

“There has been a lot of falsehoods that have been flying around. We who are in this business of pursuing the wrongdoings of criminals, are very much aware of how much wrongdoers would want to throw mad at us and fight us. I would make it very clear that we are not going to take it kindly that the institution mandated to protect citizens from being attacked, ridiculed, and made vulnerable will protect citizens. To those who think they are going to make a playing ground, the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Zambia Police Service as playing ground will have themselves to blame,” said Kampyongo.

“There is nothing that is being concealed. There is this scheme which we are following up and this is connected to these protests that are prepared to try and concoct fake news and false allegations. As to whether we are being proactive. If you look at the police officers today, we have been receiving equipment publicly from this arrangement. I know that the president has said every Jim and Jack wants to be a news disseminator through social media and he has said you people in the media have got a responsibility to protect your space because what these criminals are doing has potential to erode public confidence in you. We are available with the Law Enforcement Agencies to ensure that this doesn’t escalate because it has potential to bring anarchy.”