By Brian Mulenga
While doing some background checks over the Convoy/motorcade brouhaha I realised something, the road trip to hell had been completely unnecessary.
The BRE is a very organised and efficient organisation. This evidenced by the fact that it has helipads that have been maintained at both Lealui and Limulunga for decades. Visitors can go to either palace by helicopter.
On the material day, three helicopters were on standby to ferry the Presidential party. Why they chose to go by road is still a mystery.
After the motorcade tangled with the rowdy UPND cavalcade, the President did the return trip by helicopter.
The choppers all three of them without fuss or problems picked up the Presidential party and flew them back to Mongu.
The Presidential party was actually picked up from an island in the river.!!!!
I think this calls for a full-scale enquiry and heads should even roll. The unnecessary exposure of the principal to danger was completely wrong.
Even the arrest and charging of HH, in my opinion, is damage control by the security organs responsible for the President.
The questions to ask are 1. Where there no observers along the road equipped with radios to provide up to date briefings on road conditions? 2. Why was there no air cover (helicopter even drones) scouting the routes and the general vicinity for security threats ? 3. There is an alternate route to Limulunga one is down D558 or another using the T4 to Kalabo and turning left at a signposted gravel road. Why was this not scouted and mapped properly as an alternate route? 4. What was wrong with using the helicopters to go to Limulunga? 5. Who decided to send the President at 120 kilometres per hour without reconnaissance, route clearance and surveillance straight into a potentially hostile crowd or convoy?
This is below the very high standards we know of the Zambia Police VIP Protection Unit. This is the Unit that trained fellow VIP Protection Units from other countries like Swaziland and Namibia.
The VIP Protection Unit has proved itself capable of keeping its charges safe.
The mixup in Mongu, was a first. Never before had the President been sent straight into an unsafe area without proper route planning and management.
HH is a scapegoat for major failures and lapses of the proud history of the VIP Protection Unit and the State House Police who in 53 years have never had to shoot anyone or threaten anyone.
To see the VIP Protection Unit playing dodgem cars on a potholed, unsecured road was a clear case of incompetence.
The UPND cadres hanging precariously from the backs of the vanettes and Land cruisers had a clear view inside the Presidential vehicle which drove into a danger zone with windows open negating the essence of the bulletproof windows and sealed air conditioning system designed to suck any gases out of the cabin of the vehicle. A single tear gas canister or even a ball bearing fired from the catapult could have been used with fatal consequences.
The Police should man up and accept their mistakes. HH’s own behaviour was not good at all either but the final responsibility for the fiasco lies squarely at the feet of the men and women protecting the President. the VIP Protection Unit.
The Presidential Security detail and VIP Protection Unit need a shakeup. They have a fantastic reputation to maintain and should do everything to maintain it.
I believe the security services are trying to heap their own internal failures on sacrificial lambs. Zambian eagle