Where faith-based concerns have been raised by representatives of the mother bodies of the nation’s Christian churches about what is happening in the country, the response they get are police threats.
Deputy Inspector General of Police in charge of operations Malcom Mulenga on Saturday warned representatives of the mother bodies of Christian churches to desist from inciting citizens to protest the incarceration of Hakainde Hichilema as it has potential to cause anarchy in the nation.
On Friday, three Christian Church mother bodies wondered what Zambia was today if not a dictatorship considering the continued political tension that had come about as a result of Hakainde’s incarceration on clearly trumped up treason charges. The Church mother bodies said Hakainde’s detention was inhuman and called for his immediate release.
The police responded, warning: “As police, we are concerned with on-going statements and remarks regarding the arrest of the UPND leader, Mr Hakainde Hichilema in which certain quotas of society are advocating for solidarity marches, protests and above all issuing alarming statements that have potential to instill fear, insecurity and cause anarchy in the country. We would like to bring it to the attention of members of the public that it is contempt of court to make use of any speech, writing or misrepresenting proceedings before courts. Such acts are deemed to be capable of prejudicing the process and lowering the authority of any person before whom such proceedings are being held. This is contrary to section 116 (1) (d) of the Penal Code, Chapter 87 of the Laws of Zambia. Members of the public, regardless of their political affiliation, religion, race and tribe are therefore advised and warned to desist from making such comments and careless talk that may cause alarm and generate instability in the country. Our role as police is to maintain law and order, peace and stability, therefore statements aimed at bringing disunity and division shall not be condoned at all cost. We have seen countries where the clergy have mismanaged national issues that brought about atrocities and as Zambia Police, we shall not allow that. We urge members of the public to let the due process of the law take its course as the matter is before competent courts.”
Help, it’s the police! We live in a police state – a state or country in which a repressive and tyrannical government maintains control through the police!
This is not a matter for the police. It’s not for the police but Edgar Lungu to address.
The Church representatives were very, very right; we are today living in a dictatorship. And, as such, we have only two choices: we accept to continue to live under a police state in which all dissent, protest is brutally suppressed or rigidly controlled; or we decide to struggle without respite for a society where law and law enforcement is responsive to human needs. If law and law enforcement is to be responsive to human needs, a vast restructuring of our judicial system, that is the police and the courts, and our laws is essential.
Zambians are starting to wake up to reality that they either are going to have a police state where they don’t have any freedoms and rights left, or they are going to struggle and build a nation that doesn’t tolerate tyranny, dictatorship, a police state – and that means a whole different way of getting along. And given the very high levels of poverty in Zambia, a police state, without public accountability, is going to make things worse. There’s no progress we can make under this corrupt police state where those in power do as they please without being questioned by the public through protests and other forms of direct citizen action.
You show us a highly unjust, unfair and inhuman society, and we will show you a police state. Or an uprising. There are no counterexamples. None. It’s not if, it’s when. Unless we abandon elements of, or which resemble, a police state, we can’t meet the demands of being a democratic society where there is justice, fairness and humaneness.
Zambians need to understand that they have lost their country. The rest of the world needs to recognise that Zambia, under Edgar’s regime, is not merely a complete police state, but also a very corrupt one. The hubris and arrogance of Edgar, combined with his lack of restraint and scruples, make this regime open to very serious human rights violations. This regime is an enemy of human rights.
Step by step, we see the rule of law and democracy being uprooted like an unwanted weed and the preparation for the entrenchment of tyranny and dictatorship, for an unbridled police state in Zambia. And the Judiciary and Parliament are largely complicit. The state owned media and Richard Sakala’ s Daily Nation are supportive. The public has been, for some time, apathetic. The apathy is starting to be reversed, but there seems to be little opportunity to restore what has been lost without massive effort and pain, a tenacious struggle.
The rule of law is disappearing in Zambia, and we are increasingly being ruled by the whims of police officers and their political masters.
The police have lost sight of the fact that they are public servants and not personal or private employees of Edgar and his minions.
We have no police in Zambia today because our police has become something else – it has become part of the ruling Patriotic Front. And police officers have become Patriotic Front cadres. A functioning police state needs no police.
It is therefore our common duty as ordinary citizens of this country to police the police. This clearly shows that Edgar is not ready to dialogue and compromise over anything. It has to be his way in everything and anyone who tries to stand in his way will be “crushed like a tonne of bricks”. And representatives of the mother bodies of our Christian churches are today being warned by the police not to try and stand in Edgar’s way. Soon, they will be crying out: ‘Help, it’s the police!’
And for Edgar, all that is happening in the country is normal and as it should be: “What crisis are they talking about? If there was a crisis, I wouldn’t be leaving the country and go away the way I am going. If there was a crisis, people wouldn’t be coming the way they are coming; the investors wouldn’t be investing the way they are doing. This crisis exists in their heads because they want to justify what they are getting from their pay masters. Is there a crisis here? What crisis have you seen gentlemen and women from the media, tell me? Everybody is able to go about with their business, people are talking carelessly, freedom of speech and who is arresting who? nobody!”
For Edgar, the tyrannical way he is running the country is normal, there’s nothing wrong with it. Those who are raising concerns about tyranny and dictatorship are paid, hired people. This is a standard response of tyrants and dictators. They live in denial and self-deception. They are usually the last ones to realise that there’s a crisis. And often, that realisation comes too late for them to do anything or adjust.