By Elias Munshya
With his mouth dripping with poisoned mustard, it should not have taken rocket science to know that what President Lungu was saying, that he was going to reform the police, was just not going to happen. The gentleman is a deceiver, and he is not even good at it. He is fooling some people some of the time, but he will not succeed in fooling Zambians all of the time. When, after the police murder of Mr Nsama and Mr Kaunda in Lusaka on December 22, 2020, the President instituted investigations into police shooting misconduct – we knew somewhat that the so-called report or investigations would go nowhere. We have been vindicated. With much fanfare, weeks later, the President claimed to have received the police shooting report from the Inspector General of the Zambia Police, which he claims to have sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions for her “attention”. It has now been weeks, and no attention has been given to that report or to anything. There is no law and no common sense in what the President was claiming to do. It was all a fluke. But then that fluke led to the repeat of the same series of patterns as what happened in December.
Paramilitaries armed to the teeth invaded the village of Shibuyunji last week. Their target was the ancestral home of Hakainde Hichilema’s wife, Mutinta. When they reached the village, these armed thugs ransacked the home, dug huge holes around the compound, and ran around a chicken run. Mrs Hichilema’s relatives had no idea what the armed thugs were doing at the home. The unarmed villagers watched helplessly as the thugs in police uniforms went on a rampage. Had it not been because the people of Shibuyunji are peaceful, there would have been another shooting, similar to what had happened in Lusaka in December 2020. A reckless government with human life cannot be trusted with the safeguarding of that human life.
Isn’t it strange that we should be calling our policemen and women thugs? Of course, it is. It is what their commander in chief has reduced them to. Instead of safeguarding human life, the police are now being used as President Lungu’s personal gang to terrorize Lusaka’s people, and after they had a fill of blood, to extend the thirst to innocent villagers in Shibuyunji. And the motive? To try and frame the primary challenger to President Lungu’s hold on power – one Hakainde Hichilema. But how much longer can the politicians continue to desecrate the Zambia Police? How can it be justifiable in a democracy for the police to so unashamedly invade a village on the pretext of looking for “weapons” they imagine the Shibuyunji villagers are hiding?
The moment after the thugs had raided Shibuyunji, press reports suggested that Lusaka’s police command had no idea about any police operation at Mutinta Hichilema’s ancestral home. It came as a surprise to the Lusaka Province Commissioner of police that the police were ransacking a chicken run belonging to Mrs Hichilema’s cousins while at the same time digging holes around the yard as if they are trying to catch “imbeba”. It was a few days later that the police high command acknowledged that actually whatever had happened at Shibuyunji was, in fact, a police operation. You could easily mistake this comedy going on as if it is happening in Uganda with Yoweri Museveni as the main act. This begs the question – how come the police command did not know about this operation when it was ongoing? Was the Lusaka police command deliberately kept from this information? Does it then mean that there is a parallel command somewhere carrying out these kinds of raids on Hakainde Hichilema, his relatives, and the poor relatives of his wife’s?
We know that our police will be redeemed from this kind of abuse. And we will all cease to call them Lungu’s thugs. But for now, as long as they continue to carry out Lungu’s evil bidding, we will extend no courtesy to a system that is destroying our democracy and desecrating the future of our collective existence.
The raid on Shibuyunji should be condemned by all well-meaning Zambians. This is not how to govern a modern democratic state. But our redemption draws near. We all should hope.
Elias Munshya can be reached at email@example.com