Police spokesperson Esther Mwaata Katongo says the entire Police Service is unhappy with the dismissal of four Sesheke-based officers namely, Commanding Officer, Shaapa Wakunguma, second Commanding Officer Chilongo Felming, Officer in Charge Boniface Lengwe and Constable Fridric Mukela. According to her, police officers are concerned that what has happened to the four could happen to any one of them.
ESTHER Katongo: “No one would want to see a fellow police officer being fired because what happens to my fellow officer today, may happen to me tomorrow. Speaking in my personal capacity as Esther Katongo, two of the four officers who were retired, are my personal friends whom I have worked closely and I feel bad. To see that they have been retired is not something that has made us happy, as a service we are not happy that our friends have gone like that.
The problems is that, there are situations where cadres want to go and cause a fight at the police station, meaning that they do not respect the police. Maybe in the past when we were a Police ‘Force’, people had so much respect and fear for us. But now, as a Police ‘Service’, when you handle someone, the Human Rights people will come in, crying out loud against the police.”
In our view, madam Esther Katongo’s message is a sugarcoated understatement. Even though she released a statement yesterday claiming that we misquoted her because police officers are not crying foul, she knows that her heart is not agreeing with her mouth. Let’s face it, the Police Command is finished. Our men and women in uniform, including madam Esther Katongo, have been reduced to nonentities. They are even worse than G4 security officers with no power, no job security and no direction. Their zeal to work has completely been shuttered.
Nothing is nice about working in the police today, because their operating manual has been replaced with the PF’s panga doctrine. This is the situation with all the officers, regardless of their ranks. Police officers report for work already terrified, wondering whether they will make it through the day without offending the PF leadership. It’s no longer about law enforcement; it’s about pleasing the PF to stay in the job.
But this has got nothing to do with the fact that police cannot use force in their policing methods, as madam Esther Katongo is putting it. If anything, the opposite is true, and it is the same force which they used to sort out provocative PF thugs that has led to the retirement of the “Sesheke Four”.
The real problem here is that the ruling party has hijacked the Police Command and usurped all the power that comes with it. Those in the police are not allowed to use their brains, they have to consult on every little decision and wait for instructions from their bosses, who also have to consult the PF leadership.
The Police is now a security wing of the Patriotic Front and it cannot perform its duties without express permission from the ruling party. So, it is not expected that police officers can discipline PF cadres. The Service is now a tool for those in power to brutalise and oppress opposition parties.
Today, when a PF cadre wearing green regalia slaps a police officer, that officer must not only turn the other cheek, but also salute and say “thank you sir!” But if a UPND cadre points a finger at an officer, and that officer walks away without a ‘fight’, they will be accused of supporting the opposition and a retirement in national interest follows, instantly.
This may sound too exaggerated, but it is a reality in the Police Service. Officers, with all the ranks on their shoulders, are nothing more than school cadets in the eyes of the Patriotic Front. Ruling party youths can even commandeer a police vehicle if they so wish; and at the rate we are going, soon they will be at liberty to borrow police guns in order to fight their battles with UPND.
How can this be happening in a normal country with a President who is a lawyer? Surely, those who say Mr Edgar Lungu is not in charge of the State have a point. This is what happens under State Capture. When a President is asleep, bad elements wake up to steal his ballpoint pen and authorize all sorts of atrocities. A President, especially one who understands law, justice and order, cannot fire police officers at will in this manner, without paying any consideration to facts. This is a State capture and nothing else. Criminals are controlling and abusing our very critical security wings using the name of the President.
Clearly, apart from the Inspector General, his deputy and Commissioners of Police who are enjoying their gratuities with the PF in power, the rest of the police officers are not happy. They can’t wait for this regime to go because they have suffered enough. Their hands are stained with human blood against their will. As if that was not enough, they have to live in fear of being discharged from employment, as if they are serving in a terrorist group that makes arbitrary decisions without due consideration of the law.
But we want to warn the PF leadership that their animosity towards the police will surely haunt them. What they are giving the men and women in uniform, shall be given back to them in good measure, pressed down, shaken together and overflowing. It is just a matter of time, and unless G4 security or anyone else is hired to guard the ballot papers for 2021 elections other than the police, the PF’s reign in power may end sooner than they anticipate. These police officers who are being abused like this will have the last laugh.