It has become apparent that the criminal justice system is highly selective in the prosecution of criminal offences.
There are people walking the streets who should be behind bars as recommended for prosecution by the courts of law. These are people who are never prosecuted because they enjoy political favour or are actually in control of the system. This should never happen, the criminal justice system should be transparent, open and free from the sins of partiality and collusion.
We make these comments arising from the recent events regarding violence at election time more specifically at by-elections.
From all accounts there was violence in Mufumbwe, Livingstone, Kapiri Mposhii, Kafulafuta and violence in Mkaika. And in all these cases the only people that have been arrested and prosecuted are members of the opposition.
In spite of abundant evidence to the contrary not a single PF thug has been dragged to courts of law to answer charges of violence. In the recent example of Mkaika, we even published pictures of two victims of violence admitted to hospital in Katete arising from savage beatings they received at the hands of very well known PF members some of whom were brandishing and discharging firearms. None of them were arrested.
The two Katete victims reported the matter to the police and the police know who inflicted the injuries but they will not arrest them.
In Livingstone opposition members were not only arrested but charged with a capital offence when the facts on the ground clearly indicated that the violence that resulted in a fatality was internal to the ruling party. The same is true of Chongwe where another fatality was recorded. The fate of those who were arrested soon after the incident is unknown but we would not be surprised if they were still in incarceration pending trial.
This growing impunity and abuse of the law is very dangerous because it undermines the credibility of our law enforcement institutions which are now seen to be at the beck and call of those in power. Institutions of governance are intended to serve all Zambians regardless of their political affiliation hence the police should not discriminate by political affiliation. The Drug Enforcement Commission should not victimize individuals on account of their political orientation. The Anti-Corruption Commission should not prosecute on the basis of rank in society but on evidence before them.
The Acc has evidence of massive corruption in the procurement of oil, in the abuse of Tedworth accounts, in forgery and theft of funds from sequestrated accounts. These are major crimes that must be prosecuted to protect the integrity of our systems of governance.
For as long as law enforcement agencies are seen as political agents with a political agenda to achieve such as harassing the son of former president Rupiah Banda, their standing, credibility and esteem will continue to flag.
We must protect our country from criminals within and this cannot be done by victimizing innocent people.