PRESIDENT Lungu is satisfied with the reports he is receiving from the security wings on the country’s security status following the invocation of Article 31 of the Constitution on the threatened state of public emergency.
Special assistant to the President for press and public relations Amos Chanda said invoking Article 31 has enhanced powers of police to pursue criminally-minded elements, and that the police are making progress.
Mr Chanda said in an interview with journalists yesterday that police are disrupting lawlessness, acts of sabotage in hospitals and Zesco pylons, and arresting culprits.
“The invocation of Article 31 is producing desired results and ordinary people have nothing to worry about as police are enforcing law and order. Right now, there is no need to escalate the measures that have already been put in place,” he said.
Mr Chanda disclosed that attempts have been made to blow up oxygen chambers at the University Teaching Hospital, as well as Zesco’s 250 megawatts pylons, but alert security officers prevented this from happening.
“If such acts do not worry the Law Association of Zambia (LAZ), some opposition, and other organisations, it worries Government, and it [Government] will remain focused to ensure law and order is maintained, and lawlessness comes to an end,” he said.
He wondered why the LAZ and other organisations are questioning the security measures the President, who is the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, has put in place to protect lives and property, adding that they have no competence to deal with issues of national security.
He said the spate of fires across the country is proof enough for the President to increase security measures for the sake of safety of the people in the country.
“Issues of national interest should supersede our narrow personal interests, people should not play with national security. Such matters should be left to security wings,” Mr Chanda said.
President Lungu invoked Article 31 of the Constitution to give more powers to police and other security wings to stop a spate of damage to public property.
On July 4, the nation woke up to the burning of Lusaka’s City Market, which has since left more than 1,000 marketeers without stands.
The invocation of Article 31, which gives the police more powers to maintain security, was later approved by Parliament through a unanimous vote.
Police and other defence and security agencies will now have powers to stop and search vehicles without a warrant, withdraw travel documents and detain suspects for more than 48 hours with authority of a magistrate.
Government has given guidelines and regulations which are in two parts; those which can be implemented directly, and those that will require the President to issue specific orders to be implemented.
The maximum detention period for suspects is seven days if the police satisfy the magistrate that their actions are necessary.
However, a detention period beyond seven days must be done by the order of the President.
Government has said the regulations are not meant to interfere with the freedom and liberties of law-abiding citizens, but will only be applied to citizens who are found breaking the law.
“The general public is free to go about their normal business as there is no curfew or restrictions in movements,” Given Lubinda, then acting minister of Home Affairs, said on Friday when he outlined the measures.