A ZCCB STATEMENT On the Summoning of the UPND Leader and the Police Brutality Against Citizens “No longer shall violence be heard of in your land …” (Isaiah 60:18)
- A ZCCB STATEMENTOn the Summoning of the UPND Leader and the Police Brutality Against Citizens
“No longer shall violence be heard of in your land …” (Isaiah 60:18)
The Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops (ZCCB) deeply regrets the loss of two (2) lives at the hands of the Zambia Police during the confusion that erupted as Police Officers allegedly shot at unarmed people who gathered to show solidarity with the UPND Leader, Mr. Hakainde Hichilema, who was summoned to appear before the police. Our hearts and prayers reach out to the bereaved families in this difficult time. At the same time, we hereby condemn in the strongest terms possible the killing of two citizens by the police who acted against their key mandate of safeguarding the lives of Zambians, irrespective of their political, social, cultural and religious affiliation.
Zambia is a country that embraced multi-party democracy in 1991. At that time, it was believed that Zambians are better off to live in a Multi-Party-State, than to continue with the One-Party-State. This meant that the tenets of democracy such as freedom of assembly, speech, demonstration and access to information were to be our guide. It is now nineteen years and Zambia is still struggling to live up to that ideal. Those given the responsibility of protecting and defending people’s rights are the very people who are apparently abusing and abrogating them and seriously sowing seeds of disunity. This is indeed a matter of great concern to all well-meaning citizens.
2.0. The Summoning of HH – Lessons to be Learnt
The Zambia Police probably already knows that summoning a leader of one of the major opposition parties is not the same as summoning any other ordinary citizen. We are therefore left wondering as to how many times they have created and faced the same scenario? We remember incidents in Luanshya, Ndola and here in Lusaka where every time the police came up with an allegation against the UPND Leader, national agitation and tension is witnessed. During this festive season of Christmas, we strongly believe that the nation that claims to be Christian is supposed to focus on promoting peace, love, unity and reconciliation. However, the statements by politicians and police officers, and events that occurred in Lusaka leading to the loss of sacred lives are creating the unnecessary environment of tension and hatred in the nation. This has come only a few days after the Ministry of National Guidance and Religious Affairs (MNGRA) launched their document on the promotion of national values. Whilst we do not condone any form of recklessness and the breach of the Rule of Law, we call upon our leaders and the Zambia Police to always aspire to adhere to the tenets of Multi-party democracy, especially the respect of human rights and protection of life which is a sacred gift from God. In the run-up to the General Elections in 2021, the Zambia We Want is a nation where citizens are law abiding and do not only feel but are actually protected by the police as FREE sons and daughters of God. The law must be applied equally and fairly to all without looking at the political party to which one belongs. All must be equal before the law and no one, not even police officers and some party cadres, must think or believe that they are above the law.
3.0. Our Appeal
We call upon His Excellency, the President of the Republic of Zambia, Mr. Edgar Chagwa Lungu, to rise above partisan politics and provide the needed leadership in the nation as a statesman. He must ensure that the provisions of the Republican Constitution are strictly adhered to by all institutions of governance, including the Zambia Police Service. Not only that, we call upon the Presidency to ensure that a detailed investigation is immediately launched to ascertain both the person behind the command to use excessive force, to shoot and the officer that executed the said order as well as bring the culprit to book. We therefore join our voice to that of the Human Rights Commission (HRC) in “calling upon the Government to establish an inquest in line with the provisions of section 4 and 28 (1) (c) of the Inquests Act, Chapter 36 of the Laws of Zambia, in order to establish the perpetrators and institute appropriate criminal charges” (Cf. Human Rights Commission Press Release – Extra Judicial Killing issued on 23rd December 2020).
To the Minister of Home Affairs and the Police Command, we wish to reiterate our earnest appeal that your primary mission is to protect the lives and property of ALL Zambians. Ensure that within the rank and file of the Zambia Police Service, there is high level of professionalism, which includes the determination of the kind of force to use against unarmed and peaceful citizens. In addition, allow the police to perform their duties without waiting for orders from politicians and without fearing the wrath of political cadres.
To all political leaders, we call upon you to always act within the confines of the law, to use a language which builds rather than inflaming the situation or increasing the tensions in the country while at the same time never shying away from demanding the respect of your political rights. In this time when we celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, we call upon you to be channels and instruments of God’s peace in the nation. Do not close the door to dialogue. Be ready to engage in genuine dialogue aimed at reconciling nation.
Lastly, we remember the people who have lost their lives during this and other similar events in the past. We pray to God that their souls may rest in eternal peace and that the bereaved families may be consoled by the grace from above.
Issued on Thursday 24th December 2020
Rt. Rev. George Cosmas Zumaire Lungu, Bishop of Chipata, ZCCB PRESIDENT.