There seems to be a fierce battle for the position of Inspector General of Police as well as that of Deputy Inspector General among Provincial Commissioners that is forcing them to make very silly decisions in order to get noticed by President Edgar Lungu.

We have a reason to believe that these Provincial Commissioners are seeing some vacancies at the top of the police command. It seems there is something that they have heard, which the public has no idea about; and it is that expectation that has escalated the desperations among contenders to outdo each other in brutal policing.

We are not speaking from without. Just last week, Deputy Police spokesperson Rae Hamoonga issued a statement to dispel rumours that the Inspector General had been fired.

“The Zambia Police Service would like to dispel the contents of an article trending on social media suggesting that the Inspector General of police Mr. Kakoma Kanganja has been dropped. The Inspector General of Police is currently out of the country on national duties and is still at the helm of the Zambia Police Service. We wish to urge the general public to dismiss this false article with the contempt it deserves. The police high command will not be swayed by such falsehood to perform its function,” read the statement.

We were shocked to hear about this rumour from the police because we had not heard of any such speculation anywhere else apart from them. The police statement was claiming that social media originated the gossip, but we, the social media dealers, had not picked anything of that sort.

There are plenty of senseless rumours that pop up on social media every day, but they never quite get the amount of attention that the police gave to this speculation about Mr Kakoma Kanganja being fired. So, this move by the police gives us reason to believe that within the police command hierarchy there is a battle for recognition and promotions; especially that this comes only a few weeks after Southern Province Police Commissioner Bonnie Kapeso was promoted to Deputy Inspector General.

What happened last week in Ndola where police stormed into a church building and arrested pastors and officials from the Centre for Trade Policy and Development (CTPD) doesn’t make sense, until one understands the above narrative about the jostling for promotions among Provincial Commissioners.

The Ndola meeting was about the 2019 national budget, a public document that has been laid on the table of Parliament and to the Zambian people through the media for scrutiny. Zambians are now expected to make their submission, and this was the agenda for the CTPD-convened meeting. The civil society organization wanted to hear people’s reflections on the proposed budget and to get involved in the process of implementation.

But there came a Police Commissioner in the name of Charity Katanga with a battalion of armed officers to fish out the clergy and their civil society partners from Ndola Central Baptist Church to arrest them for unlawful assembly.

“We had information that there is a political group that had a meeting without police notification. Initially, 53 people had gathered. But only eight were picked, including one Pastor George Palo who was the lead convener of the meeting,” Katanga said.

This is nonsense. Unlawful assembly in a Church? So, police want people to seek their permission to pray and talk about things that affect their livelihoods? What will be the next offence, illegal defecation in a toilet? Please, ba police, stop embarrassing us to the outside world! And for a Commissioner who is as highly educated as Katanga, this is an insult to her own intelligence.

We say this because even a grade 12 pupil knows that CTPD is not a political group and has nothing to do with any political party. After getting a report that there was a ‘political group’ coming to hold a rally in church, and if her officers have no capacity to investigate anything, a simple Google search would have saved Katanga the embarrassment; she would have learnt that CTPD is a non-profit, membership-based trade policy think tank, which promotes equitable pro-poor trade policies and practices in Zambia.

We would like to urge these promotion-thirsty Provincial Commissioners to take a chill pill and relax because these are human beings they are dealing with. If they don’t want to listen, soon, they will ignite a fire in this country that no one will succeed to put out. Even a dog, when you chase it to a dead end, it remains with no option, but to face its aggressor and bite back in order to survive. At that point, the dog doesn’t care if it will eventually be killed for attacking back, but it will prefer to die trying because that becomes the only option left.

People in Zambia have been pushed to the dead end. They are fast running out of survival options other than to fight back. Unlike a vulnerable stray dog, which can’t apply logic to its retaliation, the citizens will not lose. Once these citizens wake up and make a unanimous choice that they must stand united to take down the oppressors, there is no rank in the police command that will contain them.

Just look at how police officers were chasing Harry Kalaba from Mwinilunga last Sunday, like an illegal immigrant. The officers followed Kalaba to the church where he was worshiping with the people. That is an act by another desperate Provincial Commissioner seeking the President’s attention!

What these police officers must remember, however, is that their deeds are costing their appointing authority some votes. The more they show aggression to the people, the more their chances of staying in employment reduce because the next regime will toss them out and make sure they dance to the music.