By Jeff Kapembwa
Lusaka - In the aftermath of the gassing of citizens by unknown people which has claimed over 50 lives, President Edgar Lungu wants a commission of inquiry to ascertain the motive, vowing to crush all perpetrators irrespective of their allegiance.
This comes in the wake of a spate of bizarre incidences that started last December in which about 50 lives were lost, and hundreds of suspects arrested for rioting and arson, leaving a trail of destruction of infrastructure.
The gassing is rampant in the urban and rural areas as people still lack information as to who is causing it.
President Lungu, breaking the silence over the chemical gassing, said he regretted the uncouth behaviour by people whose motives remain unknown.
In his address to lawmakers last Friday on the morals and values of the country, President Lungu said he was deeply disturbed over the spate of gassings hence the need for investigations to establish the real motive.
“Let me sound a stern warning that enough is enough. I direct all law enforcement agencies to arrest the situation once and for all. There should be no sacred cows in administering justice, President Lungu told parliament.
Defence and security forces should thoroughly investigate the motives behind the co-ordinated gassing on the citizenry, health and educational institutions, leading to deaths, injuries through mob justice and rioting among other unjustified acts.
The combing of lawbreakers, he warned, should not segregate but allow the full wrath of the law to take its course on all perpetrators of the vices. He noted that tribalism and hate speech had no place in Zambia and should be routed out.
He intoned that some traditional religious leaders and civic officers had a hand in the reprisals.
“Regrettably, in some cases, my government is aware that some traditional leaders and church leaders have either directly or indirectly fueled or instigated these mob attacks,” he said.
The spontaneous acts culminated into acts of arson at public institutions, including police infrastructure for lack of trust in the law enforcers. Some of the victims of mob justice were either torched alive and others were stoned to death.
Some gruesome deaths were carried out in full view of children, acts alien to Zambia, renowned as a beacon of peace, respect of mankind and reputed as a Christian nation.
The systematic incidences spread to all parts of the countryside, although saboteurs seem to have shifted to the rural countryside prying on lack of information among the dwellers.
“It has been observed, however, that the enemy has shifted focus to the rural areas where false information is now being given to the public with a view to inciting citizens to rise and cause public disorder,” noted Lungu.
“The enemy will surely be defeated, without any doubt, and life will return to normal for our people sooner than later. As President of the republic, in the recent spate of gassing incidents, I found it very shameful, unacceptable and regrettable to see our own people vandalising police stations, schools, market places, hospitals, and other public infrastructure.
“When people vandalised these public assets recently, we did not only undermine our own security and destroyed our much-needed infrastructure, but we also denounced the values of patriotism, good citizenship, collective sovereignty, and national unity.”