Editor's Comment

Make public offices safe

THE barbaric and senseless act by political cadres in Kasama, where they stormed a government office and beat up Beatrice Namukoko, a district administrative officer, must be a source of concern for all citizens who love this country and cherish its peace. It must also be the last time that hooligans do such a thing and think that their brawn is the passage to getting away with lawlessness. The 53-year-old civil servant was attacked as she reported for work around 08:00 hours. Despite pleas for help, her assailants were unrelenting. No, as citizens we had seen enough of such acts under the previous regime, and we cannot look back. President Hakainde Hichilema’s firm condemnation of such despicable acts of violence should be evidence enough for all that Zambia is indeed on its path to restoration of civility. This should give hope to citizens and other residents that with such commitment, Zambia will rise above political hooliganism and allow the rule of law to prevail. But the President’s resolve must be mirrored by those around him. This is for party cadres, those in the opposition, and all citizens at large. Zambia went through a divisive period pre- and post-election period. We must mend the rend and not rend the mend. No, we cannot, and we should never, allow Zambia to slip back to that bloody past when those who belonged to the ruling party were a law unto themselves and could do as they pleased. That past when cadres overran every public sphere, interfering with government processes and systems, should now belong to our political history books. Political cadres must always respect public offices and institutions and the men and women who occupy them, as they represent the President and are the people’s servants. There is a reason why the Zambian flag flies over these public places, so it is political sacrilege for anyone to impudently break into these offices and, worse still, beat a woman who, by all means, is the extension of the President’s office and authority. And to have cadres, purportedly from the ruling party, carrying out this violent act is deeply worrying, as they are supposed to lead by example; they are supposed to respect government symbolisms and government representatives at whatever level. Cadres have no constitutional backing whatsoever to interfere with the operations of a government office. Like the President said, if they are aggrieved, there is a channel to air their grievances. “No cadre should enter a public office and beat anyone. If they have a complaint, they must deliver the complaint, we will attend to the complaint. No violence!” the President said. We also agree with the President’s call to the police to thoroughly investigate the incident and bring culprits to book. There must be evidence that there is walking the talk on ending political violence. Zambia should stop treating cadres like they are from another planet – aliens who cannot abide by the country’s laws or societal norms. Police must ensure that they protect all citizens regardless of political affiliation. This incident in Kasama must not be treated as an isolated incident because it is not the first under the new dawn government. So nip the problem in the bud before it blossoms into a beast that might be too difficult to manage. One of the best ways in which this scourge can be stopped before it spreads is to ensure that the culprits are quickly brought to book and prosecuted. Then others with similar evil intentions would think twice about their plans to bully their way into public offices. Yes, history has a way of repeating itself, but we have a chance to change history. Today, we are all Namukoko and we will stand – not with fearful hearts, but with the courage of those numerous freedom fighters who now sleep – and cry out NEVER AGAIN!

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