HOME Affairs and Internal Security Minister Jack Mwiimbu says the application of the law is not tribal, arguing that that the PF members of parliament who were arrested for committing various crimes were not representing their tribes when doing so.

Rendering a ministerial statement on arrests of three PF members of parliament, Tuesday, Mwiimbu said the law breakers should not hide under the guise of tribal discrimination.

“Madam Speaker, let me also take this opportunity to address the insinuations that the application of the law is tribal. The Penal Code Act, Cap 87 of the laws of Zambia, states that tribal discrimination is an offence punishable by law. Madam Speaker, the fight against crime in whatever form will never be tribal. The law is not selective based on tribe. All those who committed offences were not doing so on behalf of their tribes, but they were doing those acts in their own volition as individuals and as private persons. The law enforcement agencies are applying the law professionally without any iota of discrimination. The law breakers should not hide under the guise of tribal discrimination. The new dawn government stands firm on the application of the law without fear or favour,” Mwiimbu said.

Mwiimbu explained why Pambashe member of parliament Ronald Chitotela and Kawambwa member of parliament Nickson Chilangwa were arrested.

“Madam Speaker, the brief background of the events that led to the arrest of three Patriotic Front members of parliament are as follows: with regard to honorable Nickson Chilangwa, member of parliament for Kawambwa constituency and Hon Ronald Kaoma Chitotela, member of parliament for Pambashe constituency, the facts are that, on 12th August, 2021, Kawambwa police station received reports of arson, malicious damage to property, threatening violence, unlawful wounding and assault which occurred around 12:30 hours at Mulyoni village along Kawambwa/Mporokoso road in Kawambwa District, Luapula Province. The Zambia Police Service rushed to the scene and found a white Mahindra motor vehicle registration number BAR 1922, a property of the United Party for National Development (UPND) on fire,” he explained.

“The Zambia Police Service instituted comprehensive investigations pertaining to the said alleged criminal acts. Consequently, on 2nd November, 2021 Zambia Police Service in Kawambwa arrested seven suspects in connection with the aforementioned cases. Among the arrested suspects were two members of parliament, namely; honorable Chilangwa and honourable Chitotela. The suspects have been charged with four cases namely; arson, malicious damage to property, threatening violence, unlawful wounding and assault occasioning actual bodily harm. The suspects have since been released on police bond and will appear in court soon.”

Mwiimbu said Chinsali member of parliament Kalalwe Mukosa was arrested in connection with assault.

“Madam Speaker, in the case of Honorable Kalalwe Mukosa, member of parliament for Chinsali central constituency, brief facts are that on 10th June, 2021 during the campaign period, Chinsali police station received a report of assault occasioning actual bodily harm which occurred at Chinsali police administration office. So far, four suspects including honorable Mukosa have been arrested in connection with the said offence and one suspect is still at large. The four suspects were released on police bond and have since appeared in Chinsali subordinate court for plea and the case was adjourned to 29th November, 2021 for commencement of trial. Madam speaker, let me make it abundantly clear that it is not the first time that sitting members of parliament and some prominent members of society have been arrested,” Mwiimbu.

Mwiimbu said in the PF era, sitting members of parliament were arrested.

“In the previous regime, members of parliament including dignified citizens were arrested and prosecuted. Some of them were found wanting and were subsequently convicted whilst others were acquitted. Allow me, Madam Speaker, to provide examples of some sitting members of parliament and prominent members of the society who were arrested by the previous regime. The current head of state was arrested more than 15 times, Honourable Garry Nkombo, Honourable Steven Masumba, Honourable Chishimba Kambwili, Honourable Romeo Kan’gombe, Honourable Keith Mukata, Honourable Douglas Syakalima, Honourable Chitalu Chilufya including Honorable Ronald Chitotela were arrested as sitting members of parliament. It is important to note that when the aforementioned members of parliament were being arrested, there was no mention of tribal application of the law,” he said.

But in a follow up question, Leader of the Opposition in Parliament Brian Mundubile insisted that the arrests were tribal, asking his colleagues to analyse which regions the affected member of parliament hailed from.

Before allowing Mwiimbu to respond, however, Speaker of the National Assembly Nelly Mutti cautioned MPs not to “put petrol on fire by bringing tribalism into the House”.

And when asked by Shiwangandu member of parliament Stephen Kampyongo why it took so long for police to arrest the MPs, Mwiimbu said they could not take action at the time because they were compromised.

“I have no doubt that the former Home Affairs ministers know the reign of the PF. The police were exerting their duties under fear. A lot of policemen and women were victimized for having performed their duties prudently. Examples are many, we have to note that these cases were reported immediately after they occurred but the police could not take action at the time because they feared if they took action at the time, they were going to be disciplined. But because there is a new dawn, there is fresh air, the police have realised that they now have a room to perform their duty professionally,” said Mwiimbu .

This response prompted Kampyongo to rise on a point of order to find out if police officers were given instructions to move in, but Speaker Mutti reserved ruling.

Meanwhile, Speaker Mutti ordered the Education Minister to render a ministerial statement on demonstrations by UNZA students.