PRESIDENT Hakainde Hichilema says people who have stolen citizens’ money should return it to the owners.

And President Hichilema has told newly appointed Deputy Inspector General of Police for special duties Fanwell Siandenge that he was not appointed for vengeance but to ensure that law and order is upheld.

Meanwhile, President Hichilema has directed Special Assistant for Press and Public Relations Anthony Bwalya to arrange for an open radio programme where citizens will be allowed to interact with the Head of State without intimidation.

Speaking during the swearing-in ceremony of newly appointed Correctional Facilities Commissioner General Fredrick Chilikutu, Correctional Facilities Deputy Inspector Kuyomba Bwalya, Deputy Inspector General of Police for special duties Siandenge and State House Senior Private Secretary Wallen Chakawa, President Hichilema said there was need for oversight institutions to work professionally to ensure that citizens’ money was returned.

“I said we cannot tear gas our people willy nilly, live bullets no! I am not saying you should not maintain law and order. I am not saying criminals should not be brought to book, they should and they will, but do it professionally. Soon we will be talking about oversight institutions; Anti-Corruption Commission, Drug Enforcement Commission, Financial Intelligence Centre, they too have to do their jobs. Someone misunderstood the message I have given to mean that I have done a deal with those who took people’s money. That is a deliberate distortion, citizens money must come back to the owners, the citizens. But that is not my job, that is the job of those colleagues,” President Hichilema said.

“I think Vice-President, I deliberately reinforced this message so that we can provide leadership to bring life back to normal in our country. Don’t steal from the people. In a few days, we will be announcing Ministers and you will be very happy; you will agree with me that it was worth waiting for. Our main interest is to return money to the owners, the people of Zambia. I thought I should verify this.”

And President Hichilema told Siandenge that his appointment was not meant for vengeance.

“For the colleague Deputy Inspector of Police, you know what you have gone through, the nation knows what you have gone through. You are not coming back to punish those who treated you like that, no! You are coming back to show them that you are a better person. That you occupy a higher moral ground than those that persecuted you. I think the story is told, people of Zambia let us support each other. If we act professionally, if we enforce law and order within the confines of the law you will be okay,” President Hichilema said.

The Head of State also urged Chilikutu to decongest correctional facilities across the country.

“We have a duty to the people of Zambia, that is paramount to everything we do. Sometimes it is easy to forget Commissioner General of Prisons, Deputy Inspector General of police and other colleagues, to believe that now you have the power to do whatever you like, that is not true. You have a rare opportunity to serve the people of Zambia with distinction, they have suffered enough. When we make mistakes, it will be clear, if it is not clear to us, someone will point to us that we have made a mistake and we should be willing to correct that mistake and come back in line to serve the people of Zambia,” President Hichilema said.

“My two colleagues in the correctional services. I am a graduate of that institution, I am fully aware of what goes on in those institutions, there are supposed to be correctional facilities, but at the moment they are not. They hardened us detainees, the conditions there harden us. I am saying let’s decongest those facilities. Deputy Inspector general of police, I said this to your colleagues, give bonds if the matter is bondable. Take people to court as the law says. We shall address the Judiciary; time will come for us to address the judiciary.”

Meanwhile, President Hichilema said he wanted to feature on a call-in radio programme where citizens would be allowed to interact with him without intimidation.

“The next time we meet in a different environment with the journalists, Secretary to the Cabinet, we would like questions. Anthony Bwalya, arrange for an open radio programme where citizens will be calling openly without restriction, without threats to demonstrate a new dawn, that citizens can ask any questions they like, we will work hard to answer it. Let us demonstrate what we are saying,” said President Hichilema.