HOME Affairs Minister Stephen Kampyongo has insisted that government is not targeting the opposition with the Cyber Security and Cyber Crimes Bill, but is merely shrinking the space for criminals.

And Kampyongo said the Smart City project will simnifically reduce crime and help to avert corruption by police officers as they will not be physically on the roads.

Speaking when he featured on ZNBC’s Sunday Interview, Kampyongo said government did not allow the opposition to derail the cyber security bill.

“All these mobile providers are also governed. Under the UN, we have the Telecommunication Union that also makes sure that the telecommunications that we have must not be used to do wrong things. Terrorism is one of the major threats to the whole entire globe, how do we manage it? These are matters we were discussing in Kyoto, Japan, we were talking about crime prevention and criminal justice, these are the matters that we are talking about at global-level, how do we protect children against cyber bullying? How do we protect children from being enticed to go and do wrong things? If you go into those war zones where there are these religious conflicts, the young ones are being enticed online; how do you protect them because they are getting there and it’s easier to sway a child’s mind to become ruthless, to become heartless. So, these are the matters that we are discussing at global-level and everyone is agreeing that we must make sure we have legal frameworks in countries to make sure that we deal with this cyberspace,” Kampyongo said.

“You see, now that is how it is interesting. First we are talking about the Public Order Act being amended…That’s why we didn’t want to entertain their gimmicks of trying to derail the ICT Bill because we have known how they conduct themselves.”

He added that it remained the responsibility of government to protect citizens and not a matter of whether the opposition trusts government or not.

“It’s not like that, what we are dealing with it’s government who has got the responsibility to safeguard people. If something happens, you are not going to say, ‘oh, the opposition, why did you allow that disaster to happen?’ No, it’s government. So, the people of Zambia who have given trust to the President and his government trust that the government. In any case, government is the people so to think that we are making laws that are targeting certain individuals in being insincere. The only people that should be scared are those who are potential lawbreakers because any law is meant to ensure that your liberties and mine are protected. So, there are also provisions in that piece of legislation, which punishes those that want to abuse the authority given to them,” he said.

“These gadgets that we are using are created by individuals, these platforms, be it WhatsApp, Facebook…So, if we don’t protect you, the users of those platforms which are created by yourselves, how else are you going to be protected? So, it’s not a question of ‘the opposition this, the opposition that’.”

And Kampyongo observed that the country’s security determined the kind of investment flowing into the economy.

“Look at Lusaka, for example, Lusaka has grown. You have got a number of public facilities, shopping malls, streets, it was the order of the day even now that people, you would go into the CBD to try and shop, you leave your car, you are coming out, the car is broken into and valuable items snatched. Now, you imagine an investor coming into this country for the first time to come and try and invest here. You are just getting into the CBD and the first thing that greeted you is theft, how do you attract investment? How do you attract tourists? We have said tourism will be one of the key sectors that would contribute to the growth of the economy of this country. So, the security determines the type of investment you are going to have,” Kampyongo explained.

“You have had people complaining about how many of our officers, how much our people are inconvenienced by having our police standing on the road and it has also gone into the perception of corruption, which corruption is both sides: members of the public offering bribes to the officers or either way, the officers requesting for bribes. You can’t deal with these historical challenges by mere stopping, you put systems in place for you to deal with such challenges. What that will mean is that we shall have cameras in public places to monitor the activities and we shall have officers throughout sitting in the command centre; it will reduce the crime rate drastically.”

He added Zambia should forget about peace if government did not invest in the country’s security.

“The premium on security is high because if you don’t invest in security, then you forget about peace. We can only continue to claim to be peaceful, to coexist because the reason why we have the police is because you know that we, as human beings enjoy our rights, but we also indulge in other people’s rights. So, liberties are guaranteed and the reason why we are saying, ‘let’s focus, it’s also to monitor certain processions that are illegal.’ If people are going to just wake up and say, ‘okay, we have got grievances,’ instead of channelling these grievances in the normal channel, we are going to jump on the road, is that freedom? That’s not freedom, of course, that’s lawlessness,” he argued.

“What we are just shrinking is space for criminals and every peace-loving, law-abiding citizen must be commending government for taking these proactive measures and the President when he was saying, ‘we are going smart,’ people doubted. Now, can you imagine with this COVID-19 what could have happened? We, as legislators, are able to conduct our work using the ICT platforms so if we didn’t plan for these things, what was going to be happening now?”

Meanwhile, Kampyongo, who is also Shiwang’andu PF member of parliament, said government was happy with the Public Order Act because it had worked, insisting that it will be fairly applied during the forthcoming polls.

“We would have loved [to amend] just as we are content with the current law because we enforce the law as it is. We are content, not that we are happy. We are happy because it has worked for so many years and since we haven’t amended it, we shall go with it as it is,” said Kampyongo.

“The assurance is that the Public Order Act application will be fair and we also bear in mind that we have now this COVID-19 situation and so when people are having these public gatherings, they must look at both. It’s not only the Public Order Act, you must also look at the health regulations that have come into place. So, we have done this before, I mean political parties have been having their general conferences; MDC (Movement for Democratic Change) were having theirs just a few days ago; UPND were having theirs so it’s just a question of engagement, that’s all. The question of engagement between stakeholders and the police with mutual respect, mutual understanding, non-confrontational and that way it won’t be a problem for anyone to manage.”