HH asks government to engage international police over gassing

*20th February 2020*
*Let’s seek help from international investigative wings if we are failing to deal with perpetrators of terror attacks*

Zambia is faced with events that may plunge the country into serious chaos if not handled properly. Over the last three months, the country has seen over 20 individuals killed either by mobs or by the police, as the nation is gripped with criminal acts of chemical gassing right across the Republic. These events involve criminal gangs or individuals spraying chemicals in the homes of citizens, that several media reports have indicated have an effect similar to clinical chemicals used in theatres during surgical procedures.

Three months into these events, the police claimed to have arrested over 30 people with non of them produced before the courts of law, and so far there’s no explanation to the citizens as to what is causing these events. Despite deploying the Armed Forces and other security agencies, the incidents seem to be on the upswing than on the decline. This has left citizens wondering and feeling helpless, and subsequently resorting to the illegallities of mob justice resulting in the unfortunate loss of innocent lives.

And in this whole process unfortunately children are falling victims too. For example in Kabwe, a small boy was sent to buy insecticide by his parents and a mob noticed the can he was carrying and concluded he was one of the killers and descended on him and brutally killed him. In Lusaka a citizen working for the Intercontinental Hotel Gym was rushing from his home to catch his early morning company bus, and met his fate when a vigilante mob waylaid and severely beat him despite police presence nearby.

In many parts of Lusaka mobs have taken the law into their own hands because they seem to have lost faith in Law Enforcement to protect them. Many innocent citizens have been killed and the country is in a state of uncertainty and fear.

What is profoundly alarming is that several actors within the Patriotic Government are determined to link these events to the UPND and have been issuing statement that can incite retribution to innocent citizens, with potential to degenerate into genocide. We are also seeing parallels to past events that were State sponsored by previous Governments, that were used to drive fear into the community, then used to arrest and assassinate political opponents.This similarity cannot be a mere coincidence, but a well calculated and coordinated effort to accuse the opposition as being responsible for these heinous criminal acts.

Worthy noting and of great concern is that despite night curfews all around the country and the deployment of thousands of troops from the Police and the Zambia Army, these incidents seem to be taking a sharp rise. Media reports and information has been circulating for months that the State has been planning such events to specifically bring fear and accuse the opposition as the perpetrators. These events are way too complicated for the opposition to pull off in a police state like Zambia, where not even a discussion on proposed legislative changes like Bill 10 can be allowed, without the PF arresting or beating innocent citizens that are expressing their democratic rights.

The PF government has for years used sponsored mobs to beat up political opponents into submission. As UPND we believe that these gassing incidents are State sponsored and specifically intended to eliminate political opponents. We therefore call on the Zambian Government, for the purposes of transparency and for the citizens and the world to know the truth, to seek the assistance of Scotland Yard and the FBI in the UK and the US respectively, to come and assist with dealing with this state of affairs which the government appear to be failing to handle.

As UPND we have absolutely nothing to fear and believe that the truth needs to come out so that the Zambian people know who the perpetrators are, through our Judicial system.

We call on our collegues in government if they really have nothing to hide, to rise to the occasion and agree that independent Law Enforcement like the FBI and Scotland yard be invited to investigate these crimes against our people. This is a challenge which no responsible government anywhere in the world can refuse when their own citizens live in fear and being murdered everyday.

*Hakainde Hichilema*
*UPND President*

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