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RULE OF LAW

FINALLY, Mr Davies Chama, former Defence Minister in President Edgar Lungu’s administration under the Patriotic Front has been released on bail  of K100, 000 after 11 days in police cells.

The President, Mr Hakainde Hichilema is aware of this case that has been reported extensively by the media.

We have no quarrel with the Zambia Police Service arresting any citizen they feel has broken the law.

But we do find it hard to understand why police, in this new political dispensation must take so long to bring an accused person before a court of law.

We say so because we feel the Police breached a Presidential directive in which he stated that no person should be held in cells for more than 48 hours without being charged.

This was one of the first pronouncements that President Hichilema made after he was declared winner of the August 12 Presidential and general election.

He said his administration will be based on the rule of law, and he was specific that the police should henceforth show professionalism in their operations.

As Mr Hichilema put it, his administration “will walk the talk,” in ensuring that the justice system was applied fairly.  He stressed that no one should be disadvantaged.

But in the case of Mr Chama, Police Inspector General LemmyKajoba has fallen short of what Zambians expect from the men and women in uniform.

After being summoned to the Police headquarters in Lusaka, Mr Chama was arrested and taken to Woodlands Police Station.

He spent about two days in the cells there before he was driven across the country to Livingstone.  From Livingstone, he was then driven to Sesheke.

Police initially were playing “a cat and mouse” game as MrTutwa Ngulube, Mr Chama’s lawyer alleged that they did not hear from the National Prosecution Authority.  There intention was certainly to “fix.”

Mr Chama, and his co-accused, his former bodyguard Brian Nyoni who was working as a driver at the embassy in Ethiopia were initially facing a charge of attempted murder.

But the charge for which they were given police bond was for causing grievous bodily harm.  It simply proves that police never did any serious investigations before locking up the two men.

Did it have to take this long to be given police bond when they could easily have been bailed within 24 hours?

It is important that the police are seen to be doing their work in a professional manner lest the government will suffer a backlash from human rights activists who have hailed the premised “rule of law” era.

We feel it is too early for the police to start undermining people’s basic freedoms which the political leadership would want enshrined in the country.

It is when cases like that involving Mr Chama, where one is held for 11 days without making a court appearance are exposed that international human rights organisations like Amnesty International starts questioning a country’s justice system.

We do not think the new dawn administration wants that.

Justice Minister Milambo Haimbe was on Diamond TV the other day saying the new administration could not allow the kind of business where the criminal justice system was used as a weapon.

He also said that the UPND government was walking the talk in upholding the rule of law in the country in the 100 days the party had been in power.

That is hard to believe if the ordeal Mr Chama has been through is a figment of one’s imagination.

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