YESTERDAY Police acted swiftly to arrest opposition UPND supporters who retaliated against an attack from the ruling Patriotic Front. According to spokesperson, Esther Mwaata Katongo, police have failed to arrest the PF cadres who provoked their opposition rivals, because they were not found on the scene.
“There was a rally for the Patriotic Front somewhere at Kampwelyomba grounds. So, the rally was peaceful until after the rally itself, some of the thugs believed to be the cadres, went and damaged the office of UPND, which is just along the road there. So, by the time the officers were getting to the ground, those people had already run away. Then, in retaliation, the UPND also organised and went to the office of the PF where they also went and damaged some windows. So, at the time they were there, the officers managed to apprehend some of them. So, it is a matter where we are investigating both sides. So, for UPND, those people were found on the scene; for the PF, officers found that those who had caused damage were not there. So, in whatever matter that you have been provoked, you don’t need to take a route of committing a crime, so it is a crime to damage other properties,” said Katongo.
In our view, there is no need for the police to even lie that they are investigating both political parties because the truth which is staring on their faces is speaking to the contrary. It does not surprise us at all to see that the police have swiftly gone for the victims, leaving the aggressors. This is typical of how police enforce the law in Zambia today. Those in government pretend like they leave the police to operate autonomously, but in reality, they are constantly on phone; telling the police whom to arrest and whom to detain.
We recall that in May 2019, President Edgar Lungu said he was extremely puzzled to see police inaction against crimes committed by PF cadres. This statement came following two violent incidences that occurred regarding suspected PF cadres storming Power FM in Kabwe and Radio Maria in Chipata. But everyone knows that the call for police to act professionally is a cosmetic one. Those police officers who attempt to apply the law fairly and squarely are punished severely.
Just to remind our readers of what happened in Sesheke during a by-election campaign where Senior Superintendent Shaapa Wakunguma and his three other colleagues were fired on claims that they behaved unprofessionally. The four Sesheke police officers, who were fired in the name of the President, are now languishing on the streets because they dared the PF.
We are not speculating. It is a recorded fact that the Secretary General of the Patriotic Front directed the Inspector General of Police to sort out officers who were brutal to the unruly PF cadres during that by-election. Mr Mwila accused the police of beating PF cadres like common criminals, which in his view was unprofessional. That’s all it took to throw out officer Wakunguma, second Officer Commanding Fleming, Assistant Superintendent Lengwe Borniface, and Constable Mukela Fridric.
This regime has been firing police officers who are merely accused of using the element of force on PF cadres. What that implies is that police are only expected to sort out UPND, NDC and other opposition cadres, but must never touch PF cadres. Police are now programmed in their heads. When they see opposition, they charge. When they see PF, they run. This is what happens when police officers are punished for applying the public order act fairly.
When Mr Lungu, acting through the Police Service Commission, fired Senior Superintendent Wakunguma and his group, the entire Police Command was frozen with fear! We even recall what Police spokesperson Esther Mwaata Katongo said on radio following the dismissal of Wakunguma.
KATONGO: “No one would want to see a police officer being fired, because what happens to my fellow officer today, may happen to me tomorrow. So, we live as a family, and when one goes like that, we really feel bad. And speaking in my personal capacity as Esther Katongo, two of the four officers who were retired, are my personal friends whom I have worked with closely and I feel bad! I will talk about Shaapa Wakunguma, I will talk about Chilongo, those are officers that we have been interacting with very well and to see that they have been retired is not something that has made us happy, even as a service we are not happy that our friends have been retired like that.”
True to that fear which the police explained, we saw how PF cadres went to beat up police officers right in their offices at Lusaka Central Police, and there was no one who was able to stop the cadres or to arrest them, everyone went into hiding. But if it was the UPND who made that attack on the police, the news story emanating from the incident would have had a death toll attached to it.
So, the police should not waste time defending their decision to only arrest UPND cadres from the Kamanga incident, and leaving the aggressors. We now know the drill. This is how things work in Zambia today. PF cadres are free to do anything because they are above the law. If they decide to beat members of the opposition, they can do so without anyone saying mfwee mfwee!