Whoever is familiar with dogs knows their behaviours. They are domesticated ordinarily for security provision through barking, growling and biting. Others keep them as pets. Under obedience command dogs effect their duties instantly, at times on their petite energy reserves. Exhausted, the biddable German shepherds return from their tasks panting with their tongues hanging out of their mouths.
Since political independence to date, police officers operate just like German shepherds on a leash ready to pounce on anyone after word of command without any hesitation as trained. They provide security as required by law day and night to both human and non-human objects proactively or reactively. Essentially, it is legitimate for police officers to execute their duties constitutionally. Apart from being sensitive a sector, policing is very vital in planting, watering, harvesting, and storing internal national social security. However, the manner in which the voiceless police officers operate and treated attracts underscoring.
It’s been noted that all I.G.s literally fear giving actual reports to their respective Commander-in-Chiefs when asked about the plights of their officers. Their response is “my officers are working happily without any complaints your Excellency” because their job preservation is important. Anyone in their position would probably behave similarly. Who then should speak on behalf of these double-orphaned police officers regarding their conditions of service?
The premise for police officers’ collective bargain should only be constitutional by repealing and replacing the Zambia Police Act (Cap.107, 28) which forbids membership of police officers to unions. The International Labour Organisation (ILO) enshrines the right to organise and bargain collectively as fundamental human rights. Equally, Zambians have the right to form or belong to any trade union or other association as provided by article 21(1) of the Constitution.
Police officers are people and not Rottweilers and thus must operate professionally other than sometimes being used for witch-hunting by greedy and myopic politicians. Police Officers’ Amateurship (POA), constitutionally branded the Public Order Act makes them act like unleashed dogs via a modus operandi that sometimes disrupts innocent public modus vivendi.
Between 1960 and 1990, the police labour movement ripened as part of the American law enforcement landscape. To mention, but a few, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Ukraine, Bucharest, Europe (EUROCOP) have police unions. In Africa, the South African police Union (SAPU) was championed in November, 1993. Swaziland police is in the process of being unionised. Mauritian police has a collective representation. On the 23rd of June, 2013, the industrial Court Judge Onesmus Makau sitting in Mombasa ruled that police officers were free be unionised having found that the Labour Relations Act that initially barred police officers from being unionised was dissonant with articles 24 and 41 of the Kenyan Constitution. Similarly, the Police Act (Cap.107, 28) is purely inconsistent with the provisions of the Zambian Constitution under article 21(1). The police legal expert team at HQs is urged to study this in detail, document findings and advise the I.G.
No one is inciting to mutiny, hence calling on parliamentarians, the Law Association of Zambia, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Home Affairs, and the Human Rights Commission including other stakeholders to brood over on this matter.
As civil servants we need a union in this World Wide Web (WWW).