By CHINOYI CHIPULU
The Civil Society Organization has asked President Edgar Lungu to dismiss Home Affairs Minister Stephen Kampyongo and Inspector General of Police Kakoma Kanganja in national interest as this will bring sanity to the police service.
Trasparency International Zambia Director Maurice Nyambe said the culture of police brutality and recklessnes that the country has witnessed will only end once the two have been dropped.
Mr Nyambe said police brutality if not taken serious could worsen as the country heads towards General elections.
He said this in a letter dated January 5,2021, addressed to the republican President.
“We, the undersigned civil society organisations, are writing to you to express our views on the aftermath of the unfortunate events, when two of our citizens, Mr. Joseph Kaunda and Mr. Nsama Nsama, were tragically shot dead by the Zambia Police Service. you among other things directed Inspector-General of Police Mr. Kakoma Kanganja to investigate and to present a report,”
“Your office issued a statement to the effect that an interim report had been received and that you had made changes in the police high command which saw two Deputy Inspector Generals, Messrs Eugene Sibote and Bonny Kapeso, and the Lusaka Province Commissioner, Mr. Nelson Phiri, relieved of their duties, while Mr. Kanganja was given a six-month contract with the specific task of restoring the Zambia Police Service’s battered public image.,”he said.
He said the changes the President made will not yield the kind of changes that need to happen within the rank and file of the Zambia Police Service.
“Those changes are merely cosmetic. We are perplexed, Your Excellency, as to why the two Deputy Inspector-Generals have been held accountable for the behaviour of the Police on 23rd December, and yet their commanding officer, the Inspector-General, has been allowed to continue presiding over the same Police Service that he has mismanaged for the last several years,”he said.
He wondered why the Minister of Home Affairs has not faced any punitive action for presiding over a Police Service whose earlier recklessness caused the deaths of three other citizens, including Vespers Shimunzhila the University of Zambia student, and Frank Mugala, a 14-year old Grade 8 pupil.
“Over the years, the citizens of Zambia have watched in horror as the Police have turned a blind eye to the thuggery of Patriotic Front cadres causing all manner of mayhem such as storming radio stations to stop programmes being aired, or simply causing havoc on our roads with impunity,”he said.
Mr Nyambe said Police have adopted a ruthless and reckless approach in dealing with people that are not aligned to the ruling party, and this culminated into various killings at the hands of the police.
“Your Excellency, we subsequently believe that no real change will come to the Zambia Police Service as long as Mr. Kanganja and Mr Kampyongo remain Inspector-General and Minister of Home Affairs respectively. We therefore make an earnest appeal to you, being their appointing authority, to immediately dismiss the two in national interest,” he said.
He said rebuilding the image of the Zambia Police over the next six months will be a fruitless endeavor unless the starting point is the dismissal of Mr Kanganja and Mr Kampyongo.
“We are convinced that the two are an embodiment of the worst of what the Zambia Police Service has come to represent over the last few years,” he said.
He urged the President to give an assurance to the nation and make a commitment that safety of citizens before and after the August general elections will be one of his topmost priorities.
“If police brutality continues it would undermine the entire electoral process. We wish to remind you that as Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, you have a responsibility to ensure the safety of all Zambian citizens using the state resources at your disposal,” he said.
He said the organization is convinced that such a public commitment would reassure the citizenry that their safety is being taken seriously.
“We trust that you share the concerns that we have expressed in this letter and that you are also interested in taking corrective action in order to redirect our country back on a course of peace, stability, and the protection of the rights and freedoms of every citizen,” he said.