Editor's Comment

Truant citizens must behave

FILE: INSPECTOR-GENERAL of Police Kakoma Kanganja conducting a drill in Chilanga’s Mount Makulu area. PICTURE: POLICE SERVICE/PR

THE Police say they will use minimum force to deal with people defying the ban on operating bars and patrons gathering to drink beer outside drinking places in view of coronavirus.
On the other hand, the Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) has urged security personnel enforcing preventive measures against COVID-19 not to use force.
It is our considered view that this is not the conversation we should be having at this moment.  This is a time when all energies should be channelled in one direction.  This is because we believe the devastating effects of COVID-19 are enough to shape the conduct of people during this period.
Actually we expect everyone, the police, lawyers, politicians, corporate world and citizens in general to speak the same language and that is the language of how to keep this pandemic, which has humbled the entire globe, including the most powerful states in check.
It is worrying that the police are still having challenges with some citizens defying regulations put in place to combat COVID-19.
The inspector general of police Mr Kakoma Kanganja has noted that some people are not complying with the directive by President Edgar Lungu to close bars and avoid gatherings.
“The way people are treating this matter [fight against COVID-19] globally is the same way police will deal with the matter,” Mr Kanganja said.
The IG is concerned, and rightly so, that some people are deliberately ignoring the guidelines set by the Ministry of Health for various stakeholders to adhere to in an effort to contain COVID-19.
However, while it is within the duties of the police to ensure enforcement of regulations put in place against COVID-19, we believe this should be done within the confines of the law, as advocated by the Law Association of Zambia.
“We know that coronavirus has affected everyone and authorities are doing all they can to keep the cases from rising. But enforcing these measures should be done lawfully, our security wings should not use force,” LAZ president Eddie Mwitwa said.
Reports on the ground are that some overzealous policemen are going beyond the mandate given by the IG and are using maximum force to deal with people abrogating the law.
While we do not support indiscipline and defiance of the set regulations, we believe the police also have a duty to ensure that law and order prevail even in the application of the law itself.
Needless to say, the battle against COVID-19 is not for only the police or lawyers to win but for all citizens. We expect citizens to be responsible enough to adhere to laid down rules to avoid endangering their lives and those of others.
The directives by the President are clear: bars, casinos and nightclubs should all be closed; crowds should be avoided.
These regulations are not for the benefit of the police or Government alone, but for all citizens. They are aimed at safeguarding the precious and irreplaceable lives of all citizens.
Government is cognisant of how the coronavirus has devastated powerful and rich countries with the best healthcare systems and how people have been dying enmass. Government knows that for a country like Zambia, prevention is the best way to fight and win the battle, which has so far claimed over 70,000 lives across the globe. The country may not have the capacity to deal with a full-blown crisis.
We, therefore, expect citizens to be concerned for their lives and corporate with Government and law enforcers by adhering to set regulations.
Citizens need to help lessen the burden on the police by being compliant.
While it is comforting that the situation seems stable and getting better by the day, citizens have a duty to ensure that they do not negate the gains made so far.
Citizens should understand that the battle against coronavirus has not been won yet. It is actually easier for the disease to spread like a wild fire than it is to keep it in control. Everyone must therefore be concerned and act accordingly.

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