WHEN the gassing of innocent residents went viral on the Copperbelt, President Edgar Lungu informed the nation that fake pastors were behind this as they were spreading superstitious beliefs with the intention of destabilising the country. He attributed the riots and unrest across Zambia to false prophets whom he described as wolves in sheep skin.

When a president speaks, citizens don’t just listen, they believe what he says. This is because a Head of State is the most informed leader with all the intelligence at his disposal. He doesn’t just make a conclusion (or at least he shouldn’t). Before he speaks, he first verifies the information with various security wings to make sure it is solid.

That is why it has puzzled us that last week, the President of Zambia was announcing a K250, 000 bounty to anyone who would help with information leading to the arrest of people who are behind the gassing. Is it not President Lungu himself who told the nation that fake pastors were behind this? Now, instead of naming the said pastors, he goes to the public looking for information. Why is he looking for answers to a puzzle he already solved? Is this a sign that the President speaks without any basis for his claims?

And by offering this reward, what is he saying about the police and the intelligence wings? We are asking because it does not make sense that the entire government can fail to find the people who are behind the on-going gassing of residents in various parts of the country. It does not make sense that the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Home Affairs have not established the nature of the gas or chemicals which these culprits are using – leaving the public to speculate. All these arrests have been made, but no clear lead to what is going on. Everyone is just speculating. How can this be?

This is what gives credence to the narrative that government is using its agents to do this to citizens so that they can create a basis for declaring a state of emergency – a move that would go further to impose restrictions on movements and other liberties that the opposition in this country are entitled to enjoy.

This is how dictatorial regimes operate. City market was burnt, to date, there is no report from the investigation that was carried out. Who burnt down City Market and what was the motive? We have the State Intelligence in all the districts of this country; we have the police, and the police also have their own police intelligence wing. We have the military wings spending huge budgets! What is the homeland security doing? What are they for if they are failing to solve this straight forward crime?

Someone in government says the opposition UPND is behind this so that they can make the PF more unpopular. If this is the case, why have they not been arrested? What are the police waiting for? The OP and Police are failing to solve this but they are busy stalking private media journalists who are exposing crimes in government. What a shame! And when they hear that the opposition is holding a rally, they swarm the area dressed like sangomas with heavy machine guns!

This is no way to govern a country. Those in government must realize that the long term effects of this will go beyond elections. In case people have not realized, Zambia is fast losing its historic status of being a peaceful democratic state. Those who travel to the outside world are being asked: “What has happened to Zambia, where did things go wrong?” Already, foreign missions are issuing negative travel advisories to Zambia because of the on-going civil unrests. Is this what we want for Zambia?

It must also be noted that of all the people who have being killed, burnt alive by angry citizens, only one or none is guilty of the gassing crime. And this is where the problem comes in. When you see citizens taking the law into their own hands, it is a signal that they have lost confidence in the State police. People no longer believe that police and other security wings are capable of pursuing justice, so they prefer to mete out instant justice. In the end, innocent people are dying. If citizens trusted the police, they would be eager to report crimes to authorities and wait for justice to prevail. But now people are saying to the police “catch your own suspects, those we catch we burn”. This is sad.

These scenes we are seeing in the compounds lately are alien to Zambia. That person who was burnt alive in Kanyama, that’s brutality of the worst kind! We only used to see such scenes in Apartheid South Africa, but now it’s happening right here. And when you look at the crowds that are watching those horrific scenes, there are little boys and girls. Those children will grow up thinking burning down a human being who has wronged them is normal and appropriate punishment.

When we talk about national values as a country, these are the things we should be talking about. But when you have a hypocritical leadership that believes in supernatural power (in Seer 1’s voice), there can never be peace in the country. Light and darkness can never mix. No wonder when they try to release the doves during those stage-managed national reconciliation events, the birds refuse to fly and prefer to walk. Now, when a bird that was created to fly refuses to go in the air and says “let me just walk”, then know that kuli kanthu!