SIKAILE Sikaile has observed that President Edgar Lungu and his ministers have been pitting defence forces against the people contrary to the defence Act.
Reacting to home affairs minister Stephen Kampyongo’s announcement early that government has procured military vehicles to deal with perceived trouble makers, Sikaile said defence personnel were meant to defend the country, and not an individual politician or political party.
Sikaile, a good governance and human rights activist, praised the defence forces for their loyalty to the country since independence.
“I have often focused my energies on addressing various national challenges like PF corruption, tribalism and Zambia’s human rights and civil liberties abuses to government politicians. But today I will directly address these matters to our men and women in the defence and security forces of our Republic,” Sikaile said in a statement. “The history of Zambia’s defence forces dates back to many years ago in which time they fought both world wars with distinction and excellence. In the 60s, 70s and 80s, Zambia was surrounded by hostile racist regimes, especially to our south, but our defence forces engaged these apartheid forces with courage and honour and contained their incursions into our territory. In all this, the defence forces’ main task was to protect the borders of our country and ensure all citizens were safe from enemy attacks.”
He said for years, defence forces had worked with the people to protect the country.
Sikaile said the PF administration under President Lungu has tried very much to turn the defence forces against its own people.
“This solidarity between our armed forces and the people grew hand in glove over the years and no amount of political affiliations separated this symbiotic relationship between the two parties.
However, since the PF came into power especially the PF of Edgar Lungu, we have seen a growing and troubling tendency where our Armed Forces are pitted against the people,” Sikaile noted. “We have seen efforts by Edgar Lungu to personalise the armed and security forces to do his bidding than stand on the side of the people. There’s an increasing propensity by senior commanders of our forces to align themselves politically at a partisan level against the principles of political neutrality of the defence Act.’’
He charged that the current government has discriminated officers in the defence forces on political lines.
“We have seen close comrades in arms in the defence forces being separated and purged in the so-called ‘retiring in national interest’ by senior commanders at the behest of Edgar Lungu, on account of their ethnic or regional background. Promotions are no longer based on meritocracy but on whom you know up there, and what tribe you come from,” he said.
Sikaile wondered if defence officers were happy that their colleagues were being discriminated against, based on political and ethnic lines.
“Are you very happy that tonnes and tonnes of armaments are being imported in the country in preparation to wage…against your own people from the same townships, villages, cities and towns you hail from, at the instigation of Edgar Lungu’s desire to remain in power? Would you turn your cannons and AK 47 at your own people because politicians have commanded you to?” he asked. “If you can, I ask where your conscience and your professionalism to carry such illegal commands is? When did citizens become your enemies and for what reason?”
Sikaile appealed to the defence forces to uphold the Constitution of the country.
“My appeal to our armed forces; uphold the Constitution of our land, never succumb to the whims of one man, Edgar Lungu or a group of politicians who want to hijack the rule of law in order to illegally entrench themselves in power. Defend the people and defend democracy and hold the human rights and dignity of our citizens with utmost respect,” urged Sikaile. “There’s nothing illegal in disobeying illegal orders. There’s nothing wrong with defending democracy and the rule of law. There’s nothing illegal about being on the side of the people. You are the people’s forces and let your loyalty be to the Constitution than to one man, Edgar Lungu, with a bunch of criminals who have stolen from the wealth of our people. In the 2021 elections, allow the people to choose their own leaders, don’t interfere, remain neutral but be on the side of the Constitution and democracy… As selfish politicians incite you to turn against your fellow citizens think about our children, women and the old aged who cannot defend themselves in an event of any trouble; protect lives than impressing individuals.”