19 January 2013

Zambia: Minister Urges Peaceful By-Elections in Mpongwe

COPPERBELT Minister Mwenya Musenge has directed the Zambia Police Service to maintain law and order during the forthcoming by-election in Mpongwe.

Mr Musenge said the police had a huge challenge in the February 28 by-election, especially that such events in the past had been explosive with cadres from participating political parties often clashing.

Speaking during the Zambia Police Copperbelt annual ball held at Savoy Hotel on Thursday evening, Mr Musenge warned police officers against engaging themselves in partisan politics.

"In short, you will not campaign directly or indirectly for any political party or candidate. Your job that time of the by-elections will be only to provide an enabling environment for politicians to conduct their business without resorting to violence," he said.

He said failure by police officers to abide by the rule of refraining from partisan politics would lead to those found wanting being fired.

Mr Musenge, who reminded the officers that their Commander-in-Chief President Michael Sata, had promised the people of Zambia peaceful elections, said during elections, police officers were only expected to protect law abiding citizens as they went about politicking peacefully.

"At the same time, we expect you to swiftly deal precisely with law breakers including those that may agitate for violence. There will be no exception," he said.

He said he acknowledged that the police on the Copperbelt were in dire need of transport, especially prior to the by-election in Mpongwe and promised to address the matter with the relevant authorities.

The minister commended the police on the Copperbelt for successes scored during 2012 in terms of crime detection, traffic management and the general maintenance of law and order.

Copperbelt Police chief Mary Tembo said the year 2012 was challenging with increased numbers of riots, motor vehicle thefts, murder cases, the problems at Kasumbalesa border as well as indiscipline of some police officers.

"But I am happy that despite all these challenges, we managed to score a lot of results to reduce crime and we have continued fighting jerabos and we will continue. There is nothing that will stop us from fighting the jerabos until the last drop of our blood," she said.

Ms Tembo said there was no giving up in the fight against the jerabos and that the anti-copper theft unit was particularly stricter because the mining sector was where the national resources came from.

"We would like to inform you that we are more than ready to handle the Mpongwe by-elections, despite information from other angles that they will use the Mapatizya Formula. We are waiting for them when they come to Mpongwe with their formula. We'll be more than ready," she said.

She challenged officers that were working against the Government to resign and wait for their own government to come in power.

The Copperbelt police chief, who apologised to the Government and the Commander-in-Chief for any wrongs her officers could have done last year, said only brave officers would be dispatched to Mpongwe

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