News and Information

Rupiah has blood on his hands - Masheke
January 16, 2011
By Chibaula Silwamba, Agness Changala in Lusaka and Speedwel

Sun 16 Jan. 2011, 04:01 CAT [2993 Reads,

The body of a victim of Mongu police shooting in a police van at Lewanika General Hospital on Friday
POLICE killing of people in Mongu can burn Zambia into irreparable political chaos, says former defence minister George Mpombo.

And General Malimba Masheke says President Rupiah Banda has blood on his hands following the killing of two people in Mongu.

Commenting on the killing of two people during the Mongu riot over the Barotseland Agreement of 1964 on Friday, Mpombo yesterday said killing people had a tendency of hardening the hardcore feelings of radical individuals in society.

“I am a solid supporter of Zambia as a unitary state but at the same time government must be cautious not to embark on reckless measures that can plunge this country into a serious political crisis,” Mpombo said. “It’s a sad situation that there is loss of lives which can burn this country into irreparable political chaos. I think it is sad that we can choose to resort to using firearms in a situation that we should handle properly through dialogue.”

Mpombo advised President Banda and his government not to approach the Barotse impasse with strong-arm tactics to show that he was in control by using excessive force. He said the government must refrain from using firearms to counter violence.

“Dialogue is very important but I have seen that the government is acting in a desperate manner. Instead of engaging these people in constructive engagement and ensuring that their views, whether radical or unacceptable are given a chance to be heard, they are using strong-man-tactics,” Mpombo said. “If irrational views command some following, it is important to sit down and sift through and find a solution.”

During a press briefing in Lusaka on Friday, home affairs minister Mkhondo Lungu said police had no option but to shoot dead a man who allegedly attempted to set ablaze a filling station, while a child died after being stoned during the riot.

And Gen Masheke, a former prime minister in the Kaunda regime and former Zambia Army Commander, said the MMD government had murdered its children in Western Province who were complaining of a matter which was in the government’s hands.

“I am very disappointed with what has happened. They (Western Province youths) were complaining about (dishonouring) the Barotseland Agreement. Instead of telling them what they (government) are doing about it, they send armed police to fire and kill innocent unarmed people!” Gen Masheke said.

“No government should engage in a situation like this in this manner. The complaint which people in Western Province are putting forward is because of poverty and neglect of the province. There are no factories, no jobs. When people leave schools, they have nothing to do. Mr. Rupiah Banda and his ministers that come from Western Province have blood on their hands and they have to do something to wash off this blood.”

Gen Masheke wondered how MMD Parliamentarians from the province would face the people whose children were being killed. He said it was not a question of cessation of Western Province, but people were expressing anger at the situation in the area.

“Barotseland Agreement does not talk of cessation. People in Western Province have been the most humble since independence. Whenever there had been riots (elsewhere), there has not been any in Western Province. When you see such (violent reactions) from the youths, you must understand why.

The government of Rupiah Banda must take responsibility for every person that has been killed, and they must remove police from there,” Gen Masheke said. “The whole area from here (Lusaka) to Mongu, people going through road blocks as if there is a state of emergency. They have passed a State of Emergency in the province without passing a law. There is no law that refuses people to assemble, all they do is notify the police. What has caused the anger is to stop them.”

Gen Masheke said the youths using Barotseland Agreement to cause problems in Western Province were doing so because of poverty, neglect and starvation, which were in every province, except that there were no agreements in the other provinces.

“The whole country is in turmoil. They are claiming to have US$2 billion in reserves and they are claiming to have given trillions of money in maize purchase. But how much of those trillions have gone to Western Province? Nothing! Where there is no justice, there will never be peace,” Gen Masheke said, adding that the issue in Western Province required attendance and not bullets.

And National Movement for Progress secretary Logan Shemena blamed the government for the situation in Western Province. He said the government through police should have allowed the youths to have their planned public meeting on the Barotse issue under very tight security so as to listen to their message.

“The young person who lost his life was not even armed but the police were in numbers. They could have overpowered the young man and arrested him. Our police are even trained to disarm an armed person, so why fire live bullets on a person who is not armed?” Shemena asked. “The violence has been caused by government. Government could have prevented that. We can’t play politics that will endanger the lives of our people.”

And UNIP vice-president Njekwa Anamela said the government must accept responsibility for the deteriorating security situation in Western Province. He said no one needed to die or be killed for exercising their human rights.

Anamela said restricting freedom of speech, movement, stopping of meetings and shooting people was a crime against humanity.

“Our multiparty democracy is about building an open, transparent, participative plural society in which all citizens should exercise their freedoms of assembly and expression without undue hindrance,” he said.

Anamela said UNIP condemned all acts of violence in any form and that it was the duty of the police to protect everybody and establish a ‘healthy’ environment for debate and dialogue on all national matters. He said the exercise of leadership was to serve everyone, including those who have a different opinion.

Anamela said unleashing instruments of violence on fellow Zambians merely hardened attitudes and backfired in the long term


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