By Stephen H. Milimo (University of Zambia)
The deployment of police officers in the Western and North-Western provinces to defy reported rebellion in these areas is regrettable and fateful. It clearly shows that the Inspector-General of Police, Dr. Martin Malama is a ‘tool’ in President Michael Sata’s hands lacking the competence to take a cautious and professional stance rather than listening to the old man at State House who seems not to embody a balance between his rational and intuitive functions.
Malama should prove to be knowledgeable by transcending arrogant, bossy and tyrannical commands from Sata his Uncle. If Malama is not careful, his move will backfire now or later. The Zambia Police Service is not a Michael Chilufya Sata police service to be used for personal concerns. Zambia Police Service (ZP) is for the people of Zambia not Patriotic Front (PF) minions and ‘ba kaponya’.
With the current despotic inclinations we are witnessing under Sata’s leadership, I am strongly suggesting that the appointment of the Inspector General of police be a serious matter of public interest and public participation. There is no way people can have confidence in the police service that follows commands from Sata at State House. What is happening to this country? Turning a brother against a brother, a sister against a sister? Where are we going as a nation?
Seriously, the politicization and unilateral appointment of the Inspector General of Police in this country will compromise the independence of the police service and must be avoided. Malama as Sata’s nephew cannot be trusted to be a person who can exercise professionalism when Sata is ‘puffing’ demanding that Westerners and North-Westerners be dealt with. As such, the selection and appointment of the Inspector General must be made public. No more picking from the ‘family tree’ or rather ‘family rainy forest’. Open recruitment of the Inspector General will provide the necessary means of identifying a person whose competence and integrity is without a shred of doubt with no ‘family’ agenda. This will also give our country an Inspector General who has what it takes to lead reforms in the police service for the safety of all Zambians.
We need reforms in the judiciary to start on soonest to address this police manipulation and lack of reforms that is very soon going to do a great harm to the judicial reforms and administration of justice. As gate keepers in the criminal justice, police officers are important players in the administration of justice. Unfortunately, it is the same police officers now who are being used to perpetuate human rights violations which they are supposed to protect in Western and North-Western provinces.
Instead of sending those police officers, sons and daughters of our land to assault their own people in the Western and North-Western provinces please send them to investigate corruption and nepotism in the police service where top ranking officers are amongst the most corrupt people in our country.
Police reforms are vital and should take pace now to make the police service an arm of government that is responsive to citizens needs and is respectful of their rights. As such, the position of the Inspector General should be reviewed seriously in the reform process. By heading both the Zambian Police Service and its administration, the Inspector General should know that he is holding the best position to lead the challenging task of reforming the police service.
We need a police service that is free from Sata’s abusive and dictatorial influence. To ensure police reforms, Zambia needs a reform minded not ‘family minded’ Inspector General. We need an Inspector General who can rebuild the police service into a body that can protect and support the rights of all Zambians regardless of their class, region, ethnic group, age, political affiliations or gender.
The holder of the office of the Inspector General must meet the constitutional standards of integrity, leadership, public values and human rights. The Inspector General must be ready to uphold the principles of the national security as stipulated in the constitution, not what we are seeing today in Zambia. The Inspector General must have what it takes to rid the police service of deep seated corruption, incompetence and human rights violations that will pose a huge hurdle in its administration of justice in this country.
It is disappointing that the current Inspector General is not a person who can shield the police service from Sata’s political interference that is slowly but surely crippling its independence and ability to deliver services to all Zambians. Please, leave alone our people in the Western and North-Western provinces.
It is very clear that the Inspector General has no clear vision and strategies on how to enhance the capacity, performance and welfare of the police service in these unpredictable times we are living in. If he is a man of authority and principles how can he accept to be moved around by Sata’s ‘dictatorial little finger’?
If Zambia is to get the right person for the position of the Inspector General we must ensure a transparent selection process. We must open the process to the public for scrutiny.
Democratic, accountable and responsive police service is what Zambia needs to ensure effective administration of justice. To achieve this we must get the right person to fill in the position of Inspector General of Police.
Zambia, unite your brothers and sisters in Western and North-Western provinces have been turned into state enemies.
Our current political design is so flawed, so let us take everything and fill the gaps with fearless patriotism.
Sata has broken our faith with one another and the sea will soon engulf us and then the light will go out. Evil days are around the corner, wake up Zambia!
To our brothers and sisters in the Western and North-Western provinces remember that ‘sticks in a bundle are unbreakable’ even at the hands of a dictator like Sata.