HOME Affairs Minister Stephen Kampyongo says government will deploy more police officers to protect equipment and officials involved in the mobile issuance of national registration cards during phase two.

And Kampyongo has refuted opposition claims that some foreign nationals are obtaining NRCs, saying that in fact, two foreigners are serving jail sentences for attempting to do so in Mwense district.

In a ministerial statement to Parliament, Wednesday, Kampyongo said government was aware of incidences where officials were attacked and some equipment was stolen and destroyed.

He said disrupting the exercise was a criminal offence, warning that law enforcers would be at hand to arrest perpetrators.

“Some unfortunate incidences were recorded in some villages in North Western Province; some sub chiefs wanted their subjects to register on their NRCs their chiefdoms even when they were not gazetted. In other parts, our officers faced challenges of language barriers at the start of the exercise. However this issue was quickly resolved as the Ministry was able to engage local interpreters. In other incidents, officers were attacked and some equipment and materials were stolen and destroyed. To that effect some suspects were arrested and charged accordingly and we will appear in the courts of law. This is not only unfortunate but also illegal because officers are citizens who are sent on national duty,” Kampyongo said.

“Let me make it clear that disrupting is a criminal offence and law enforcement agencies will always be on hand to arrest the perpetrators. The Ministry will ensure that in the second phase of the exercise, more security officers will be deployed to ensure the safety of officers and government equipment. There were also reported cases of some organisations disrupting smooth operations of the registration exercise in the name of monitoring. I wish to clarify that monitoring of mobile registration exercise is a function of government. If stakeholders want to observe the mobile registration exercise, they can do so in consultation with the district commissioners and without interfering the registration process.”

Kampyongo said police were investigating pictures which were circulated of children holding NRCs because it was clear that the children were paraded to discredit the exercise.

“We have also seen some unscrupulous characters, unpatriotic Zambians, if they are, who have been parading young children and they have circulated these images. You can tell the innocence of these children they have been parading and give them NRCs belonging to elderly people to portray a picture that government is giving NRCs to these young children. Police are on this case and they are pursuing these culprits and we shall make sure that they are brought to book because doing so is not only an attempt to discredit a very important exercise but an act of lawlessness. We are not going to stop at nothing until we zero in on these culprits,” Kampyongo said.

And Kampyongo said it was disheartening that some political parties were insinuating that non eligible persons were obtaining registration cards.

“It is however disheartening to note that some sections of society particularly political parties have been insinuating that non eligible persons were obtaining national registration cards. The law is very clear regarding persons who are eligible to obtain NRCs and anyone who contravenes the law has to be dealt with accordingly. I urge all those with information on the non eligible persons who have fraudulently obtained NRCs to report such individuals to law enforcement agencies immediately. Government will not allow non eligible persons to take advantage of the ongoing mobile issuance of NRCs exercise to get NRCs. Two persons of foreign origin who attempted to obtain NRCs in Mwense district were arrested and prosecuted and are now serving short sentences after which they will be deported to their countries of origin,” Kampyongo said.

And Kampyongo said he had waived the fee for obtaining a police report for those intending to replace their NRCs.

“Using the powers vested in me, I have waived the requirement for a police report which attracts a fee of K84 for those who would want to replace their NRCs which have been lost during this exercise especially for our people in the far flung areas,” said Kampyongo.