OUR Civic Duty Association (OCIDA) management committee chairperson Gilbert Temba says the Zambia Police Service should be magnanimous enough to stop the upcoming PF intra-party elections if COVID-19 preventive guidelines will not be followed.

And Temba has cautioned the police not to apply the law selectively during the pandemic, saying COVID-19 is serious and does not choose who gets infected based on political affiliations.

Commenting on the recent arrest of UPND officials who attempted to hold intra-party elections on the Copperbelt and the subsequent announcement by PF secretary general Davies Mwila that his party would still hold its intra-party elections amid COVID-19, Temba said police must ensure everyone abides by health guidelines, regardless of their political affiliation.

“We should take this pandemic serious whether we are in the opposition or ruling party because it’s very dangerous to expose people to COVID-19. This disease does not care what political party one belongs to, anyone can get it if they are exposed to it. We saw what happened in America when they tried to open up and President Trump was in the forefront of encouraging people to attend his rally, what happened in that area? There was huge spike in the number of COVID cases and those who died from it. So one hopes that the ruling party led by President [Edgar] Lungu should be the very first to never undermine or defy the regulations of COVID-19 prevention. If they want to hold their convention and they observe all the strict requirements of the COVID-19 guidelines in Zambia, then I commend them but if they just want to go ahead because they are in the ruling party, then they are risking their lives as well as those of their supporters,” Temba said.

Temba challenged the police to be magnanimous enough to stop the ruling party upcoming intra-party elections if COVID-19 guidelines would not be adhered to.

“I hope the police did not just stop the UPND officials from holding the elections after following all the guidelines of meeting under COVID-19 conditions. If the police did that, then they were wrong, they should similarly then do the same to the PF. If the PF don’t follow the rules, they must be stopped. The police must be magnanimous enough to stop the ruling party from holding its elections if the guidelines won’t be followed. There must be sanity in the governance of the country, what applies to the opposition should apply to the ruling party as well. We should not have rules specifically for those in government and others for those in the opposition,” Temba said.

“And people should be able to challenge the government if they follow the rules and are denied permission to conduct their activities when on the other hand, the ruling party is allowed because that is very bad. We want good governance to prevail in the country and good governance requires observation of the law by not just the opposition but the ruling party as well. But you see the beauty with COVID-19? It doesn’t choose who is PF and who is not PF, I just told you about what happened in America when Mr Trump wanted to hold his first biggest rally and all his supporters went there without masks and they were celebrating, what happened next? Massive outbreak of COVID-19. So if PF will defy the logic, then fine, they will pay the price and their members will be foolish to go and attend the PF elections without observing the guidelines and good luck to them. But consequences will follow, they will get COVID-19. So this one ironically if I was UPND or any other opposition parties and I am being stopped to gather, I wouldn’t mind, maybe it would be for the best because in the end who is going to get COVID-19 or die? It is their colleagues who are defying logic. But in any case, the law must apply fairly.”

Meanwhile, Temba asked Deputy Inspector General of Police Bonny Kapeso to stick to his word and find PF’s Eastern Province youth chairperson Emmanuel Banda commonly known as Jay Jay.

“I was reading Mr Kapeso’s statement saying they will not apply the law selectively and he said even this guy called Jay Jay Banda has to be arrested, he even challenged the PF to find him. That sounds good but is it sustainable? I hope Mr Kapeso will stick to that position and do his best to exonerate himself from this selective application of the law. There has to be equity across the board, that’s what we even said last week at our press briefing,” said Temba.