Zambia’s Home Affairs minister has warned that the government will prosecute people who undermine the country’s peace and stability, irrespective of their political affiliation or the office they may hold in the administration.
Edgar Lungu also said the police have launched an expedited inquiry into rifts within the ruling Patriotic Party (PF) which has left at least one person dead.
“The police will not be intimidated by the position of people or the status of people involved in committing crime and will pounce on them regardless of their status or in terms of their affiliation in terms of politics, like a ton of bricks and [bring them] to book,” said Lungu.
Some Zambians have expressed concern about recent violent clashes between factions of the ruling party. Opposition groups have seized the opportunity to accuse the PF of using violence to intimidate and harass opponents. Lungu disagrees.
“We appreciate that the concerns are there and are genuine, and as law enforcement agencies we have taken note of the situation and swung into action,” said Lungu. “We will bring to book suspected of being culprits, and show of confidence amongst our people. We have deployed as many as possible police where we think there could be [violence].”
Lungu’s comments followed intra-party violence in the PF that left one person dead and several people injured after factions of the party clashed in the capital, Lusaka. He says the government will punish those behind the fighting.
“First we would like to treat this as a crime like any other,” said Lungu. “We would like to sit down as a political party …to see what went wrong, address the problem, learn our lesson, and move forward.”
Some opposition groups have accused President Michael Sata’s administration of failing to prevent ruling party supporters from attacking opponents. They also said the government has failed to protect all Zambians as enshrined in the constitution. Lungu disagreed.
“The preparedness of the police has been evident by the fact that they swung into action quickly and put the situation under control immediately,” said Lungu. “For me really, there is no need for anxiety among the people in the country. It’s only that there has been this heightened tension based on the fact that this arose from differences among people who belong to the same political party.”
Lungu says that the government is working to allay the fears and anxiety expressed by Zambians due to the infighting within the ruling party which recently turned violent.