Why the Zambia Police Command should reverse its ban on foreign spouses
E. Munshya, LLM, MBA, MDIV.
It is rather shocking, and very surprising that the Zambia Police command has now banned its police personnel from marrying foreigners on the pretext that these foreign spouses could end up being foreign spies. Additionally, the command is asking police men and women who are married to foreigners to inform the Inspector General of Police as soon as possible.
When you come to think of it, which foreign spouses is the Zambia Police command banning? Is the police command concerned that our cousins, the Malawian men, will cross into Chadiza and seduce our police women and become spies? Or maybe the police command has a reason to fear. Malawians want to come and spy on our bumper harvest so that they can mysteriously send army worms to destroy our prosperity. I see. Or maybe after they spy on our harvest they will then send emissaries to their relatives at State House to beg for thousands of metric tonnes of maize which they will then steal causing the maize gate scandal in Lilongwe.
Or is it ba bululu shesu ba Kasai that the police command is concerned about? How can a police constable marrying ba Kasai be detrimental to Zambia’s wider security interests? Or perhaps, unknown to us, Senegal or may be Tanzania is sending killer women to seduce and marry Zambian police men and then spy on our emeralds. With due respect to the police command, banning foreign spouses for police constables will not make Zambians any much safer. And in fact, we stretch the law too broadly if we bring police constables under the list of those officers who prima facie hold state secrets. As a matter of course, holding state secrets is not in the police constable’s routine job description. And if they came across state secrets (which is rare), constables are required to keep the secrets as required by the same law binding on President Lungu as well as the least among us.
Not everyone who holds a government issued AK-47 holds government or state secrets. Confidential information does not necessarily amount to state secrets. The nature of public and community policing brings into focus confidential information and some operational secrets, but these are not necessarily state secrets.
Any functioning nation does have some state secrets. In our democracy, our executive branch of government supervises the security wings who hold guns and bombs that our neighbours or foreign actors should not know about. Additionally, in the security interest of this nation, our intelligence and other security wings carry out clandestine activities to keep Zambian borders safe. Our intel community also collaborates with friendly nations to ensure that we maintain the peace we need. There is no arguing against that. Our state must have and keep its secrets. On the other hand, I do not see a rational connection between banning police from marrying foreign spouses and keeping our nation safe. Police constables spread across our nation, do not hold state secrets that can be compromised by a foreign spouse. The power to arrest criminals is not a state secret. The Police Command is extending its reach too widely by bringing every sworn police officer under the cover of custodians of state secrets. While it is true that police constables can hold some confidential and operational information, it cannot be said that they hold state secrets to justify banning them from foreign marriages.
The police command spokesperson is reported to have justified this decision because married people “become one.” I do take it that we Zambians love the Bible and have read it many times. In fact, quite a good number of marriages are contracted in the church where the priests quote the Bible that says “…and the two shall become one” (Mark 10:8). This important biblical principle nevertheless is not a legally justiciable principle. Additionally, the oneness concept is a biblical principle, but it is not a practical principle. When a person gets married, they do not become the spouse. In the case of President Lungu, for example, even if Mama Esther is the spouse of President Lungu, she is not a president and she is not part of the presidency. President Lungu as head of state is privy to state secrets that he cannot share even with his spouse. The idea that policepersons should not marry foreigners because they will be sharing state secrets with foreigners makes absolutely no sense as a person sworn to keep secrets must keep secrets even from their own spouses. The duty to confidentiality is expected on many: lawyers, judges, counsellors, ministers, MPs, etc. The biblical principle of oneness does not enable professionals to share private information with spouses. It is ridiculous to suggest that marriage, by itself provides a prima facie presumption that the spouse will know their spouses work secrets.
There are better ways to keep spies from bombarding our country. Forbidding police officers from marrying foreigners is not one of the ways to control foreign spying. If Zambia were at war, the nation can make emergency determinations about its security. Perhaps, it is at such a time that such decisions can be done about foreigners. But a blanket ban on foreign spouses in a time of peace, is overbroad and extremely confusing. There is absolutely no evidence whatsoever that foreign spouses are much more likely to be spies than local spouses. There is absolutely no evidence that restricting police to marrying Zambian spouses would make Zambia safer or that crime will reduce. The police command policy should be abandoned forthwith. It is absolutely unnecessary. Or may be it is necessary if we are just targeting our cousins the Malawians, such terrible spies!