Columnists Features

I’m throwing big party for Lusaka cops

LUSAKA police officers on duty.

Life: What a journeyCHARLES CHISALA
AS YOU are reading this column I am here in Beijing, the capital city of the world’s second largest economy, China, on the first leg of my 15-day tour of duty that will take me to two other cities as a guest of the People’s Daily newspaper.
I want to inform you that I am organising a ‘huge’ party for the Lusaka Division of the Zambia Police Service.
It will be a party to remember, where anything capable of being eaten and anything that is drinkable will be in abundance.
Right now I am making arrangements with my relatives in Samfya to mobilise a boatful or a canoe load of the delicious red-breasted breams (impende) so that I can fete the officers.
Although I am a humble citizen with limited means I feel duty-bound to show the gallant law enforcement officers that their good work has not gone unnoticed.
Why should we only find pleasure in vilifying the entire Zambia Police Service for the ‘sins’ committed by a few rotten eggs in white-topped caps?
Is it not only fair that we also praise the when they do something good?
Well, my relatives in the village are mobilising sackfuls of cassava meal so that the officers can taste real nshima at the party, not the tasteless and ineffective mugaiwa (maize meal) they are used to.
When I mention red-breasted bream I was not referring to the odourless and tasteless tilapia that we are consuming in Lusaka.
Nay. I am referring to the mouth-watering fish that abounds in Luapula Province’s lakes Mweru, Mweru Wantipa, Bangweulu, Chifunabuli, Kasongole, Kafumbo, Chibinde, Chinweshiba, Bwalelupe and Kampolombo, and Luapula River.
While on my recent tour of duty in Bangweulu Constituency I was privileged to gorge myself with nshima and the head of a fully grown red-breasted bream, fresh from Chinsanka.
There will also be gourdfuls and drumfuls of umunkoyo, that sweet, non-alcoholic beer with a natural root aroma. But sorry folk, there will be no hard stuff. I mean the evil drink that turns the noblest of men and women into temporary idiots when they abuse it.
Yes, Madam Commissioner Charity Katanga and your team; you deserve the party. You have earned it.
If you live, work, do business in or roam around Lusaka and pass through the city centre every day like me, you will agree with me that the police have been doing a sterling job in the last couple of weeks.
They have ridden the central business district of the hordes of hustlers who had been terrorising mini bus crews and commuters.
The ill-mannered, foul-mouthed rabble had taken over the city centre, extorting money from minibus and taxi drivers, and showering commuters with unprintables if they refused to obey their instructions as to which bus to board and which not to.
Before the police crackdown began from Stanley Bar the thugs had taken over every niche and crook of the city centre, including Soweto Market and City Market claiming to be cadres from a named political party.
The fake cadres had turned the key streets of Lusaka into ‘ATMs’ filling their greasy pockets with ill-gotten cash.
Seeing the blue Land Cruiser pick-ups full of armed paramilitary officers and men and women in green uniform doing foot patrols in the CBD has brought relief not only to mini bus/taxi drivers and marketeers but ordinary residents as well.
I am happy that all the political parties have disowned the ruffians.
We now expect the police and the Lusaka City Council (LCC) to also target the illegal, self-appointed car parking marshals, also doubling as car washers, who are extorting money from hapless motorists with impunity in the busy spots of Lusaka.
These people have been charging motorists for parking slots, which they have commandeered from the council. If you refuse to pay them you become a victim of verbal abuse.
Lusaka is Zambia’s capital city and, therefore, the window through which many foreign visitors see the country.
We cannot afford to allow a group of thugs to take control of the city centre and hold people to ransom as if there is no law. Cage them now!
****
I was, and am still, puzzled by the stern warning the Human Rights Commission (HRC) ‘fired’ at the Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) over the eviction of squatters in the Kafue National Park.
It is clear from the tone of HRC director Florence Chibwesha’s statement (Daily Mail Monday August 31, 2015) that she did not have accurate information on the burning of the encroachers’ abandoned structures – dwelling shelters, makeshift stalls and food bans.
I had been following the engagements between ZAWA and the squatters for quite some time, and therefore found the harsh rebuke by the HRC misplaced and ill-informed.
For a long time ZAWA had been holding meetings with the affected people, explaining to them that their encroachment on the national park was a serious violation of the law and pleaded with them to leave on their own.
The two parties struck a deal and the intruders agreed to leave on their own. It’s only after they had left that ZAWA moved to destroy the structures they had left.
It is not a secret that these people had engaged in poaching, harbouring poachers and threatening the lives of ZAWA police officers deployed in the park to protect wildlife.
Why is the HRC encouraging lawlessness in the name of human rights? It only timidly begged the intruders “to refrain from acts that may result in endangering wildlife”.
When the villagers attacked and burnt down the camp for wildlife police at night recently following the death of a notorious poacher, the HRC was mute.
The HRC failed to condemn the villagers’ action even after ZAWA explained that the dead poacher, who had on several occasions fired at wildlife police officers, had shot at the officers first and was fleeing before he was shot in the leg.
I am appealing to the HRC not to fall into the trap of overprotecting law-breakers even when they threaten the lives of law enforcement officers and their families.
Wildlife police work under very harsh conditions and are constantly in danger of losing their lives to both the wild animals they are employed to protect and poachers.
The HRC must be objective in its defence of human rights.
Bravo ZAWA! Don’t be intimidated.
charles_chisala@yahoo.com



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