Zambia police or judiciary: who needs reform?

Zambia police or judiciary: who needs reform?

By Dr Charles Ngoma

As far back as I can remember, the police service in Zambia, formerly known as the police force, has always been an instrument for the oppression of political opponents to the sitting government. It is the courts of law that have come to the rescue of the ordinary citizens again and again. Yet, what is so troubling at the moment, is that the very institution that has saved many an innocent Zambian from State oppression is now under attack, and this time round, by the very  people who in time past were so rescued.

One wonders why the Zambian police have always failed to be professional in their job. Again and again we read of call outs, interrogations, warn and caution statements! It would be nice if all this was happening to curb the real crimes that are going on unpunished in the country. Thousands of people fall victim to crimes of violence, robbery, rape, theft and abuse day in and day out. There are cases of domestic violence that are never dealt with adequately by the police, so called police service! I doubt whether we even have a means of knowing what the real crime statistics are in Zambia. The number of road traffic accidents is growing year in and year out.

There are hundreds if not thousands of un-roadworthy motorised vehicles on public roads which pose a great danger to other road users. We hardly hear of prosecution of drivers who cause death by dangerous driving.

While politicians are in power, no one dares to investigate them for corruption crimes that are going on in broad daylight. It does not matter which government has been in power, whether UNIP, MMD or now PF, crimes that are committed by those in government remain untouched. For example, Honourable Miss Dora Siliya’s alleged crimes were not unknown while she was in government.

If the law is blind and our crime prosecuting agencies were not intimidated by the politicians, why wasn’t she prosecuted at the time? If she did not do anything wrong then, why is she being prosecuted now? The top brass of the Zambian police service may have changed, granted, but does it have to take the Inspector General of police, or the Commissioner to investigate an alleged crime? The Director of Public Prosecution has also changed, but does it mean that every case that passes through his chambers has to be seen by him? There are several lawyers in his chambers who could have seen, heard or handled the evidence if the police had passed it on to them.

One thing is certain however. Say a word about an incumbent politician in government, and you will sooner rather than later be visited by the police!

Since 1964, political influence in the operations of the police in Zambia is obvious. Who made the decision to arrest Mr Simon Kapwepwe? Who made the decision to arrest Mr Frederick Chiluba for incitement to industrial unrest? Who made the decision to arrest Dr Kenneth Kaunda and others on treason charges? Who ordered the arrest of Mr Michael Sata for alleged motor vehicle theft? Who made the decision to arrest Ms Chansa Kabwela for publication of obscene images?

Who is making the decisions to harass Mr Hakainde Hichilema, Mr Henry Banda and His Excellency Mr Andrew Banda?

In many of the older cases, it is the courts that saw the injustice of it all and acquitted the victims of state harassment.

If there is any institution that is more in need of reform, it is the Zambia police and not the judiciary! Could it be time to have Police commissioners who are elected by the people and answerable to the people? Could it be time we had a police service answerable to Parliament for its conduct? How long shall this go on? How long shall each incumbent abuse the police to settle scores?

There was hope when Dr Musonda became Inspector General that at last someone would clean up the mess in Zambian policing, but alas, that hope was soon extinguished! It is time we had a professional police service that is neither intimidated nor coerced by politicians.

There is not a single politician who has the power to order the police to do or not to do their duty. Yes, any citizen can complain to the police about a crime, but no one should order them to do anything about it.

The police must uphold the law and by it protect lives and property, without fear or favour. The politicians’ job is to enact law and direct policy with the provision of the necessary resources and then leave the police to be free to execute that law. It is disgraceful that they sit back and wait for ‘orders’ from politicians to do their

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