By CHILA NAMAIKO and JAMES KUNDA –
ABOUT 800 police officers have been deployed to Chilanga constituency to provide security during the parliamentary by-election campaigns and Inspector General of Police Kakoma Kanganja has warned of stern action against anybody plotting to cause violence in the area.
Mr Kanganja said the officers were not on the ground to intimidate any resident, but to ensure that every resident irrespective of political opinion was protected.
He said yesterday that officers would not condone any acts of lawlessness and advised political parties to observe law and order during and after campaigns.
Mr Kanganja, in the company of Police spokesperson Esther Katongo and other senior officers, said this when he conducted a spot check on security situation and addressed officers deployed in the area.
He visited Chilanga Primary School, Mount Makulu and Rosedale police post policing zones where he took the men and women in uniform in a fitness drill exercise much to the delight of the officers seeing the Inspector General himself lead by example.
“I urge all political players to cooperate with the officers and also to present their campaign programmes to the regulating officers so that each political party is given an equal opportunity to get to the electorate,” he said.
He said the officers were on the ground to ensure peaceful campaigns and advised all political players to work within the confines of the law devoid of violence.
Mr Kanganja said the deployment of officers was designed for quick response, but advised them to remain professional and refrain from engaging in partisan politics.
He reminded politicians that a peaceful atmosphere could only be attained if they committed themselves to focus on issue-based campaigns free of hate speech and character assassination.
Lusaka Division second-in Commander Geoffrey Kunda said Chilanga residents were enjoying peace, but said the officers would not take lightly those that would scheme to disrupt peace.
Meanwhile, the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) has hailed the peaceful atmosphere which characterised the filing in of nomination papers by candidates in the Chilanga parliamentary by-election.
ECZ public relations manager Margret Chimanse said four candidates successfully filed their nomination papers for the June 5 polls.
The four are: Patriotic Front’s (PF) Maria Langa, United Party for National Development’s (UPND) Charmaine Musonda, Francis Kope for the United Prosperous and Peaceful Zambia and Pride Mazabuka of the National Restoration Party (NAREP).
Ms Chimanse commended the police for maintaining law and order despite the huge numbers of people at the nomination centre.
She urged political party leaders to remind their followers on the need to uphold peace and order during the election.
Ms Chimanse also called for the protection of journalists covering elections as the media was a key stakeholder in information about electoral processes.
Police spokesperson Esther Katongo also dispelled as falsehood, the content of an article trending on social media suggesting that police officers deployed in Chilanga told the UPND to defend themselves because law enforcement officers were ‘scared’ of losing their jobs if they protected the opposition party.
Ms Katongo cautioned people behind such writings to desist as the careless statements were likely to incite political players to take the law into their own hands and ultimately cause anarchy.
She said in a statement yesterday that it was the objective of the police to protect every person within the boundaries of the country irrespective of their political inclination.