FORMER Attorney General Musa Mwenye SC says blaming anyone other than the police, the Ministry of Home Affairs and government for the death of two citizens in a shooting last week is unhelpful.
Last week, President Edgar Lungu wondered why multitudes of uninvited citizens thronged the police station when only UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema was called for questioning after state prosecutor Nsama Nsama and UPND member Joseph Kaunda were shot dead.
But in an interview, Mwenye observed that it was as though police had been instructed to consider any opposition member of sympathiser dispensable and to be killed at will.
“The blood of Mr Nsama Nsama and Mr Joseph Kaunda who were recklessly killed by the police last week is on the hands of the government and the current attempt to blame any one else is completely futile and unhelpful! The Zambia police has historically been very measured with regards to using live ammunition at public gatherings but politicians now risk damaging this important institution by politicizing it and attempting to turn it into an appendage of the ruling party. We know that there are many professional police officers in the Zambia police service and they are also not happy with the current state of affairs. The current trend is worrying and our police are acting as if they have been instructed to consider citizens with critical voices or those who support opposition political parties as dispensable and to be killed at will! This is sad and a recipe for problems in this peaceful country,” Mwenye said.
“I therefore implore His Excellency the President and the government to be very clear and to condemn police brutality without any reservations whatsoever. The current attempt to blame any one other than the police, the Ministry of Home Affairs and the government are unhelpful. Take responsibility and then fix the problems by holding people accountable.”
He said the UPND sympathizers who went to offer solidarity to Hichilema did not present any danger to life and they should not have been dealt with in a manner that led to two deaths.
“We all know that all political party leaders have supporters and the police ought to know that whenever they summon a high profile politician, his supporters will undoubtedly turn up to give him solidarity. What is important is for the supporters to be peaceful. What is clear from the videos we have seen is that the supporters who turned up to give support to the UPND president were peaceful. They did not present any danger to life or property and they should not have been dealt with in such a high handed manner that led to the death of two of our citizens,” he said.
Mwenye lamented that the police was now being turned into a very high handed force.
“In July 2016, the police killed Mapenzi Chibulo, in cold blood when they used live ammunition on a UPND party procession or gathering. Vespers Shimuzhila a fourth year university student died of suffocation in 2018 due to the wrongful action of the police. Frank Mugala, a grade 8 pupil died as a result of gunshot wounds at the hands of the police in February 2020. If you recall, Frank was killed on his way back from school. We have also seen that the attitude of the police to reports of murder or maiming of critical voices or opposition supporters has been dismissive at best. Lawrence Banda, a UPND supporter was killed in cold blood in October 2019 allegedly by persons who some think can easily be traced. Up to this day, there has been no accountability and no feedback on this investigation,” said Mwenye.
“You will recall that the Zambia police service was previously called a ‘force’ but it was changed to a ‘service’ to make it more service driven to all Zambians. Sadly, the Zambia police is no longer a service. It is now being turned into a very high handed force like we have never seen before. Our politicians need to realize that the effectiveness of the Zambia police and all other institutions of Government largely depends on their legitimacy and the moral authority they command.”