from ARNOLD MULENGA in Lusaka, Zambia
LUSAKA, (CAJ News) – THE assault of members of the uniformed forces by unruly residents is a scourge getting out of hand in Zambia.
This notoriety gained by a people all along hailed as among the most peaceful in Africa coincides with the increasingly toxic political atmosphere.
After a series of mob attacks targeted at police, members of the military are now at the receiving end of this lawlessness.
The Zambian Army reported that members of the community in the Chongwe District of the capital, Lusaka, attacked some officers conducting a survey on land belonging to the army.
They were attacked on suspicion that they were performing an illegality on the said land.
The military clarified that the property in question is the Zambia Army land on title, situated in Mikango Barracks where the army went to survey the Tank Driving Circuit used for training armoured tank drivers.
“We, therefore, condemn the grabbing and damaging of government property, and the assault on the Officers on duty by members of the community,” said Colonel Martin Liyungu, Zambia Army spokesperson.
He commended the soldiers for restraining themselves from retaliating and avoiding using force “even when they had the capacity to do so.”
A video posted by the army on its online platforms depicts rowdy residents confronting the soldiers as the military men apparently retreat to their vehicle.
The Zambian Army advised members of the public against confronting armed soldiers but to always report any misunderstandings or disorderly conduct to the Army Headquarters in Lusaka or nearby units.
“Such misunderstandings can also be reported through Zambia Police Service,” Liyungu said.
He disclosed that the matter has been reported to Zambia Police Service and it is currently under investigation.
But police themselves have been victims of mob attacks in recent months.
In the worst incident, nine police officers, part of the 17 individuals attacked, were left battling for their lives when residents in the eastern Katete brutalised them in November.
Some cops suffered broken limbs. Others broke their noses and teeth. Some suffered tissue injuries and multiple bruises.
In December, two police officers were left battling for their lives after a drunken truck driver pounced on them with planks and cement blocks as the law enforcers followed up a case of theft of fertilizer in Lusaka.
Since independence in 1964, Zambia has been hailed as one of the African countries with sustained substantive levels of peace, spurred by the “One Zambia, One Nation” mantra of the first president, Kenneth Kaunda (now late).
The current administration of President Haikande Hichilema assumed office in 2021 with a pledge of upholding the rights of citizens.
The Southern African nation of over 19 million people however has been beset by political and ethnic polarisation.
– CAJ News