By Elias Munshya
This past weekend His Excellency, the President of the Republic of Zambia Dr. Edgar Chagwa Lungu, flew to Monze to hand over Chinese constructed houses for officers of the Zambia Correctional Service. The Zambia Correctional Service is one of the security wings over which President Lungu, as commander in chief, presides. President Lungu’s incursions into Choma and Monze did not go as expected. The good people of Monze jeered him and protested his presence there. They did so because President Lungu is perceived as corrupt and has the reputation of shielding thieves in his cabinet.
Further, the people of Southern Province consider him to be a president full of false humility, while in the meanwhile presiding over huge kaloba and deficits. In addition, President Lungu is now sponsoring a bill in parliament that will fundamentally alter the republic’s constitutional structure. While in Southern Province, the President is reported to have claimed that Bill 10 will make it easier for the UPND party to petition the 2021 electoral results. It appears like the wonderful gentleman already knows who will win the elections.
Since President Lungu always says the dandiest things when he visits Southern Province – he did not miss the opportunity to confuse. To the Tongas, he said they should build chiefs palaces instead of merely boasting that they are Tonga bulls. This is quite ironic since the President’s mission to the southern province included the commissioning and handing-over of dozens of houses constructed for the Correctional Services. The President did not explain why the Tonga bulls should construct chiefs’ palaces, but the Chinese kaloba should construct the officers’ houses. Anyway, we will leave this discussion for another day.
In his vote of thanks, the Commissioner-General of the Zambia Correctional Service went entirely out of his mind and said that some things are unprofessional and devoid of common sense. This is how it works. Zambia is a democracy. Zambians have the right and freedom to campaign and vote for a political candidate of their choice. Zambians also have the right to laugh and jeer whomever they want.
On the other hand, the security and defence forces, are politically neutral. Political neutrality for soldiers and security forces means that they cannot participate in partisan politics while maintaining their allegiance to a political president who also happens to be their commander in chief. This is where a balance must be drawn. President Lungu is not the commander of the Corrections Service in his capacity as a Patriotic Front president. He presides over the guns in his capacity as head of state. It is up to the sworn officers to know how to differentiate between the two roles. In Monze, Dr. Chileshe went berserk and instead of sticking to the syllabus, he started saying irrelevant things.
Dr. Chileshe, as Commissioner-General, must know that he is supposed to be politically neutral. He can praise Lungu for the Chinese made boxes. But he cannot go on to praise Lungu in his partisan capacity. Doing so undermines the rule of law.
Dr. Chileshe, as a civil servant, is amenable to the civilian administration of his department. These civilian politicians include both the ruling party and opposition leaders. The MPs of Choma and Monze remain the political overseers of his department. He cannot insult those MPs as doing so shows total disregard for the rule of law and common sense. No matter which party they are affiliated to, Zambian MPs are responsible for the budget under which Dr. Chileshe operates. By going against the opposition MPs and the opposition parties, Dr. Chileshe demonstrates high indiscipline, and for that, he must be heavily sanctioned.
The Zambia Correctional Service belongs to the people of Zambia. It is their corrections department. If this gentleman cannot keep that department free from politics, he should resign so that he can join the Patriotic Front and play politics. He did not need to go on a rampage saying what he was saying in Monze.
We join other patriots in calling for immediate resignation or removal of this partisan hack, calling himself a senior member of our country’s sacred security forces.
The author, Elias Munshya, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
This Article appeared in Zambia’s independent daily – The Mast – on Thursday July 9, 2020. The “Munshya wa Munshya” column appears every Thursday.