FIRST Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Attractor Chisangano has directed Minister of Home Affairs and Internal Security Jack Mwiimbu to render a ministerial statement on cases of political violence in the country.
This followed a point of order raised by leader of the opposition in Parliament Brian Mundubile on Thursday, on the escalating levels of violence.
“I rise on an urgent matter of public importance. The matter on which I rise, Madam Speaker, relates to the escalating levels of violence in the country. The citizens are worried, Madam Speaker, that now it has become a common practice where UPND cadres are beginning to harass witnesses around the courts. We know, Madam Speaker, that there are a number of petitions going on all over the country and now it has become a pattern for UPND cadres to go and harass witnesses, especially those that they know could have evidence against them,” Mundubile said.
“Madam Speaker, His Excellency the President of this Republic came to address this House and when he was in that chair, he stated that he will govern using the rule of law. He committed himself to guaranteeing the freedoms of the Zambian people, fundamental rights of the Zambian people as guaranteed by the constitution. Madam Speaker, we were told, and we know it was all over the media when Honourable Chisopa was harassed in Mkushi. What followed was that the Mayor of Kabwe was harassed at the court. Honourable Christopher Shakafuswa’s witness was harassed at the High Court and this was in the face of the court, in the face of the police officers, within metres of the police headquarters.”
Mundubile challenged government to state whether it had failed to control violence in the country.
“My point of order, Madam Speaker, has the new dawn government failed to control violence? Is there failure on the part of the new dawn government to handle this violence? Have they deliberately ignored calls by the President to have a violence free environment? Is caderism only caderism if it’s only under the PF? Is caderism only caderism if it’s committed by others? Why should we as a country begin to operate different systems under different laws where a UPND cadre commits an offence in the face of the court and it’s not an offence, but when a PF cadre commits a similar or lighter offence, there is drama and people are in a hurry to arrest?” he questioned.
Mundubile wondered why the Minister of Home Affairs had not addressed the issue.
“This is a very important point of order and it must not be taken as an ordinary political statement. It affects all of us. If this violence is left to continue, it will certainly consume all of us. We would want our friends on the right to take this very seriously. I know that the Minister of Home Affairs, a colleague of mine, has been against violence many times. I don’t know what has changed now. He is a man that stood where I am standing now and spoke very strongly against violence. My dear colleague JJ Mwiimbu will be bouncing here when he is talking about violence, what has changed now? He must be able to feel and rise above politics to be able to address this matter. I believe that President Hakainde chose him very carefully because there were certain matters that needed to be addressed,” said Mundubile.
“Witnesses in our honourable member for Matero, honourable Miles Sampa’s case were harassed at the High Court. We can’t continue to turn a blind eye to this. Madam Speaker, we all have had recourse to watch the video of this violence. Had it not been for the brave police officers on the 8th of October, we would have recorded another death of an innocent citizen at the court and yet the police want to continue saying ‘they are investigating or they will require evidence’, things that were happening right in their faces. Madam Speaker, we have to be serious when we talk about governing a country. We have remained silent hoping that our friends will take a position and govern. And governing first of all means guaranteeing the fundamental rights of the Zambian people, allowing them to move, allowing them to assemble. For this matter to be fully appreciated, it is important that we give a full background. It will not serve a purpose, Madam Speaker, for us to begin to abbreviate or leave out certain details.”
In her ruling, the first deputy speaker said, “thank you so much although it ended up to be a debate. We heard what the point of order was all about, that is violence in the country. I will therefore direct the Minister of Home Affairs to issue a statement, I don’t know if he is ready now or we give him time next week on Tuesday to address or issue the statement on violence in the country, thank you.”