Editor's Comment

Keep politics out of public service

LAST week, the United States (US) government described Zambian troops as the best peace-keeping battalion in Southern Africa for their professionalism and preparedness.
This commendation spoke volumes about Zambian troops’ professionalism during their execution of duties both home and abroad.
Zambia should strive toward earning such commendation for all its public entities.  Unfortunately, while the soldiers are winning commendation, the police service has been put on the back foot over unprofessional conduct by some of its officers.
It is bad enough that the police service, particularly the traffic section, is perceived to be one of the most corrupt public entities.  Added to this now is the blow of some of its officers choosing to merrily exhibit partisan politics.
This is not in any way helping the police rebrand the service.
Recently, a video of a police sergeant dancing in a bar while wearing a political party-branded T-shirt under his official shirt went viral on social media.  This has put the police in an awkward position.
Police officers, being custodians of law and order, are expected to be exemplary.
Police work demands a higher ethical standard than most professions. With expectations from the police being high, their daily activities are closely watched.
Citizens expect people entrusted with protecting them to be their beacon of hope and so being impartial is the least expected of police, especially in a multi-party democracy that Zambia is.
But this does not seem to the case with our police.
It must, however, be underscored that it is not the entire Police Service that is guilty of misconduct.  In fact, the majority of the thousands of police officers handle themselves well, sometimes even in very challenging conditions.
Unfortunately, it is the misconduct of the few that draw most of the attention and grossly tarnish the image that the Police Command is striving to improve.
It is important, therefore, to quickly nip the misbehaving cops from the service before their contagious overzealousness affects other officers.
This is why Minister of Home Affairs Stephen Kampyongo has warned security officers under his ministry to choose whether to be political cadres or professionals dedicated to serving the government of the day.
Mr Kampyongo says it is either one is a political cadre or a policeman because they cannot belong to the two camps.
Mr Kampyongo has warned those who fail to adhere to this requirement to resign.
He has warned that Government will not tolerate the behaviour of some officers who publicly show their political affiliation.
His warning could as well apply to all other public workers who are expected to behave impartially when executing their duties.
Imagine what kind of a working environment there would be if partisan politics was allowed.  There would be total chaos, and delivery of services would be adversely affected.
Surely, Zambia does not want this to happen, hence the urgency with which action should be taken against those that think they can go against well spelt-out regulations.

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