IT is totally unZambian to treat a dead body in the manner that Grayzer Mutapa’s body was handled yesterday.
We hope Inspector General of Police Stella Libongani will remonstrate with officers responsible just as we expect UPND President Hakainde Hichilema will equally admonish his cadres from provocative conduct which could easily get out of hand and claim innocent lives.
It would have been first in the history of Zambia to have a body paraded through the streets for burial.
Funerals are a solemn and respectable occasion where sworn enemies bury the hatchet to put to rest a departed colleague. At funerals the departed, however discreditable in life, are treated with a modicum of respect and accorded a burial without rancor.
Sadly both the Police and indeed the UNPND cadres chose to disregard this very important tenet in order to prove their own points in the matter.
We can understand the pain that the family is feeling having their relatives coffin smashed and the body moved in the most undignified manner as officials sought to redness the disgraceful, untraditional and complete departure from Zambian culture.
Long before the funeral there were reports, denied of course, that the UPND youth intended to make a spectacle of the funeral by parading the coffin in the streets. We have no doubt the Police were aware of this intention because it was broadcast in stories by many radio stations.
Given this situation the Police should have ensured orderliness from the very start at St Anne’s where the body was collected. They should not have waited until the situation became uncontrollable, resulting in the coffin being dropped.
This is a bad omen.
As of now we all know that Grayzer Mutapa was killed. We also know that he was a UPND member. We do not not know for certain who killed him and why they killed him. These are matters that will come in court as the case unfolds. It is fortunate that so far two people are being held by the Police to help in inquiries.
This is much better than the case of the PF cadre Simwela who was killed in intraparty violence and nobody has been prosecuted to date in spite of a number of suspects being arrested, then being released without explanation. We hope that this will not be the case in this matter.
It is very important for political leaders to understand that the peace we enjoy, the liberties we enjoy and indeed the open atmosphere we enjoy are all artificial social constracts that can be destroyed overnight if mishandled. We saw such mishandling in Kenya where multi-cultural and indeed multi tribal communities turned against each other after elections.
Kenya is still recovering from the mayhem.
There are many other examples in Africa where factionalism has been allowed to destroy national unity, among them Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone and most depressing of all Somalia where two clans of the same tribe have torn the country apart to make it totally ungovernable.
We are not any different from the people in Kenya, Somalia and Sierra Leon. The same emotions that drove them to murderous rage can be found among Zambians. All it needs is sufficient provocation.