22 October 2012

Zambia: We Don't Want Prepaid Zesco Meters-Kabwe Police

The Ministry of Home Affairs has engaged in talks with the police command to find a way forward following complaints from police officers in Kabwe against the installation of ZESCO prepaid meters in their homes in police camps.

Some police officers in Kabwe have cried foul over Government's move to order the installation of ZESCO prepaid meters in their homes with many wondering how they will manage to pay bills considering that their salaries had not been adjusted.

But Home Affairs Minister Edgar Lungu when contacted said the installation of prepaid meters in camps was not meant to punish the officers.

He said as a listening Government, it was already engaging in talks with the police command to find a lasting solution.

Some officers talked to said it was unfair to install the meters by force before adjusting their salaries considering that most officers took home only K1.5 million after several deductions for other obligations.

The officers said most of them had families and wondered how they would manage to sustain themselves, especially on power.

The officers were used to a system where the Government had all along been paying the ZESCO bills on their behalf.

Others said the move by the Government to fight corruption in the police would remain a serious problem because officers with weaker hearts would engage themselves in corrupt activities to sustain themselves.

According to sources, last week, ZESCO in Kabwe commenced the installation of prepaid meters amid resistance by police officers and families who were reported to have chased ZESCO employees but the exercise only resumed after a directive from the police command.

Mr Lungu, in an interview, urged the police officers not to panic because the Government wanted the best for the officers, who, over the years, have continued to work under difficult conditions.

He said his ministry was already in talks with the police command in an effort to address the situation and the Government had no reasons to punish the officers whom it appreciated.

"Tell the officers to relax and not to panic because their concerns are being taken care of, which is the reason why we are already talking with the police command," he said.

He said the Government was aware that when something new was being introduced, there would always be resistance but Government would continue to engage in dialogue.

Muoyo Police Post in Malole Constituency in Senanga District in Western Province has been operating without water since it was constructed in 2005 subjecting officers and suspects to inhumane conditions.

This came to light when Malole Constituency Member of Parliament Inonge Wina visited the police post on Friday last week.

Muoyo officer in-charge Maxwell Ludaka told Ms Wina, who is Gender and Child Development Minister that the police post had been operating without water since it was constructed under the ZAMSIF project in 2005.

He said the only water source for the police post was a kilometre away at a school and that officers spent about K15,000 to draw a drum of water on a daily basis.

He said attempts to sink boreholes on two occasions to supply water to the police post had been abandoned and the materials for sinking a borehole were being wasted outside the police post.

Mr Ludaka said the police post was also facing accommodation problems and to this effect, one of the senior police officers had been accommodated in the police post.

"We have turned the CIO department into a house where our CIO stays with his family and we have turned one of the female cells into the office of the CIO since the department is being used as a house," Mr Ludaka said.

Ms Wina promised to help liase with the Ministry of Home Affairs to see how best to resolve the challenges that the police post was facing.

The minister later proceeded to inspect a village that was burnt last month leavong more than 10 families homeless and also visited a house of Senanga council chairperson that was also set ablaze by his two year-old grandson.

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