PRESIDENT Edgar Lungu was within Constitutional obligation to invoke his Presidential Order to the Zambia Army to take over patrolling of some of the Lusaka townships which were under security threats following the riots and looting of shops of foreign nationals, former ambassador to the United Kingdom Bizwayo Nkunika has said.
Lieutenant Colonel Nkunika said any President who loved peace and citizens had the inalienable duty to ensure that the country’s peace and stability was not threatened.
President Lungu had exhibited responsible leadership by invoking special Presidential Orders to the Zambia Army to quell the riots that rocked some parts of Lusaka.
Lt. Col. Nkunika said in a statement yesterday that it was the role of the Zambia Defence Forces to defend the borders of Zambia from internal and external insurgency, aggression and threats.
It was being politically inept for some politicians to criticise President Lungu over his decision to protect citizens and their properties.
He said it was wrong for anybody to think that it was only when the country was under a state of emergency that President Lungu, who is the Commander In-Chief of the Armed Forces, could assign military troops to carry out tasks meant to maintain internal peace and security.
Lt. Col. Nkunika stated that it was politically unacceptable for some political leaders to trivialise or play politics on a situation that was sensitive, volatile and dangerous which could have easily spiralled out of control if not handled properly.
Last week, President Lungu invoked his special Presidential Order and ordered the deployment of Zambia Army personnel in some parts of Lusaka to quell the riots and looting following a spate of suspected ritual murders in Zingalume, Matero and George compounds.
But Rainbow Party leader Wynter Kabimba criticised President Lungu arguing that unless there was a state of emergency, the Head of State should not have ordered for the deployment of military personnel to police areas that were under security threat.
Lt. Col. Nkunika said it was the mandate of the Zambia Army which was part of the defence forces to quell any uprising apart from contributing to national production and development of the country.
He said the President as Commander In-Chief of the Armed Forces could from time to time assign the military to deal with emergencies and disasters in the country and was therefore, right to command the deployment of Zambia Army in some parts of Lusaka.
“Pursuant to Section 5 of the Defence Act, Cap 106 of the laws of Zambia, troop’s deployment is not premised on the declaration of a state of emergency but dictated by security situations.
Therefore, there was nothing out of the ordinary in the Presidential Order to the Zambia Army, a wing of the Defence Forces to patrol and neutralise any miscreants in areas under security threats.
Under the circumstances, the inalienable duty of every Zambian and President who loves peace and stability to render unalloyed support that would require the soldiers to execute their duty and mission without hindrance,” he said.
Lt. Col. Nkunika said Zambians should be advised not to trivialise sensitive, volatile and dangerous situations which had the potential to explode and spiral out of control.
He stated that if drastic action was not taken timely, more lives would have been lost and a lot of property could have been damaged.
Lt. Col. Nkunika said quick and appropriate action was what distinguished good and responsible leadership as had been demonstrated by President Lungu who is the Commander In-Chief of the Armed Forces.