Kampyongo has failed to keep peace and stability
Zambia has never been this violent and unstable over the last four decades or so.
It is very clear that Stephen Kampyongo, as Minister of Home Affairs, has failed to maintain peace and stability in the nation.
Like in his politics, Kampyongo thinks violence is what keeps ‘peace’ and ‘stability’ in the nation, what stops gassing attacks.
The worst mistake Edgar Lungu made was to appoint an empty but violent person like Kampyongo to be the minister in charge of internal security. This is a job that needed a very level-headed and mature person.
Kampyongo seems to be very excited with police powers. He says police officers, world-over, are trained and mandated to use guns to shoot at, disable dissidents in order to restore order.
“I have always said before that those guns that police move with are gazetted equipment that officers must use when need arises. And they are trained! When you see them training in these schools, you don’t see them using sticks. World-over, police officers are trained and mandated to use that equipment,” says Kampyongo.
What Kampyongo doesn’t seem to understand is that legally, what most matters in these shootings is whether police officers reasonably believed that their or others’ lives were in danger, not whether the shooting victim actually posed a threat.
Constitutionally, police officers are allowed to shoot under two circumstances. The first circumstance is to protect their life or the life of another innocent party — what police call the “defence-of-life” standard. The second circumstance is to prevent a suspect from escaping, but only if the officer has probable cause to think the suspect poses a dangerous threat to others.
Cops couldn’t shoot every felon who tries to escape. But they basically say that the job of a cop is to protect people from violence, and if you’ve got a violent person who’s fleeing, you can shoot them to stop their flight.
The key to both the legal standards — defence of life and fleeing a violent felon – is that it doesn’t matter whether there is an actual threat when force is used. Instead, what matters is the officer’s “objectively reasonable” belief that there is a threat.
And what’s “objectively reasonable” changes as the circumstances change.
Coming back to Kampyongo, his tone has always identified him as a person excited to use live ammunition on even political opponents or anyone who seems to challenge them.
Recently Kampyongo threatened a Chinsali resident who attempted to question him over some development he was talking about. He told the resident to shut up because “natwisa naba kapokola”. It appears Kampyongo is intent on turning the Zambia Police Service into a force that is ready to draw guns at any instance. There are many uncouth officers who may take Kampyongo’s disposition as the modus operandi, coming from a minister. The least Kampyongo can do is preach the message of restraint to police officers. Our homeland has lost too many lives. Vespers Shimuzhila, a fourth year UNZA student died at the hands of overzealous police officers who threw teargas in her hostel. Mapenzi Chibulo, that UPND member, was shot dead in cold blood by an overzealous police officer who opened fire on marching cadres. It is said, one death is one too many.
We cannot have a character like Kampyongo who is too excited at any prospects of flexing power he believes he holds. One cannot maintain peace and security by guns. There are too many examples where guns rule and there is literally no peace.