Africa-Press – Zambia. History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce. In the mind of Brazilian author Paulo Coelho, history is never antiquated because humanity is always fundamentally the same. This analogy provides a befitting description of events currently unfolding in Zambia’s political terrain.
After more than two decades in opposition politics, it’s acceptable for the UPND government to exhibit traits of triumphalism after all it defied all odds to dispatch a political monolith from power. Needless to remind though that the governing mandate recently bestowed on the party by the electorate comes with responsibility – critical of which is adherence to the rule of law.
However, it’s the UPND leadership’s posture of arrogance and infallibility that is fast becoming a concern. Let’s pack their errors for now and focus on an important subject. The recent arrest of Former Defence Minister, Davis Chama’s for attempted murder is a choreographed sequel that began with a brazen warning by the newly appointed Inspector General of Police, Remmy Kajoba.
Two weeks earlier, Kajoba had let slip his plan to fix Chama and other PF leaders with the caveat that police were investigating crimes that the PF leadership had committed – some of which date back to 2015. True to his word, he swooped on an unsuspecting Chama who was then bundled into a tiny cell from where he waited to be transported to Sesheke – the scene of the alleged crime.
Now for purposes of context, this discussion is not meant to support or exonerate Chama from crimes he is alleged to have committed but interrogate the conduct of police including manner of his arrest. Never mind his PF membership and illogical partisan rantings that have preceded his arrest, Chama is a private citizen who deserves to be treated with dignity. And the universal principle of innocent until proven guilty by a court of law also applies to Chama.
The fact that the previous government discarded this principle for political expediency does not wash away its significance. Simply put, two wrongs don’t make a right. How is it possible that police failed to avail him and his co-accused to courts within the legally permissible 48-hour period? Couldn’t they have driven him straight to Sesheke soon after his arrest and release him on police bond thereafter completing all legal necessities?
Fact is the former Defence Minister is not a small fry but a political heavyweight now serving in the opposition – which is why it’s impossible to believe that Kajoba – recently plucked from obscurity and elevated to the top police leadership position could sanction Chama’s arrest without consulting his principals.
That Vice President Mutale Nalumango has had to apologise for this debacle raises more questions about government’s hand in this matter. It’s thus ridiculous to believe that Home Affairs Minister, Jack Mwimbu played no role in the illegal incarceration of the opposition politician. Given Zambia’s politically charged environment, this incident only lends credence to the ruling party’s vindictive agenda.
And while true that umulandu tawubola and that Chama must account for his actions, it’s yet again important to remind the incumbent government that there is a thin line between prosecution and persecution and what happened to Chama is nothing but political persecution.
Even more disturbing is that the incumbent Inspector General of Police owes his appointment to the fact that his predecessor Kakoma Kanganja was a deeply flawed character. A cadre that disguised his political inclination in a police uniform, Kanganja is most renowned for issuing arbitrary instructions for arrests of opposition leaders including the infamous raid at New Kasama’s community house which resulted in the incarceration of then opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema.
Against this background, Kajoba was appointed to cleanse and rid political cobwebs from the police service. Is he delivering on this mandate? You be the judge. As history has taught us, Inspector Generals and Commissioners of police are prone to political manipulation as such they tend to serve at the behest of the appointing authority.
While many expect him to lead as the antithesis of his predecessor, his reign thus far has only succeeded to instill fear in individuals that were aligned or served in the previous government.
Any notion therefore that Kajoba might break ranks and join the list of esteemed professionals that managed to resist and guard against the politicisation of the police service such as the late Henry Mtonga, the late Max Nkole and Peter Chingaipe among others seems far-fetched.
The consolation though is that time is still on his side to prove his critics wrong. The ball is entirely in his court. The author is an avid reader of political history and philosophy. He has since stopped eating game meat and become a vegetarian. The only thing he supports is Kabwe Warriors and Liverpool. For feedback, contact [email protected]