The Deterioration of Human Rights and Rule Of Law Under the Watch Of The Zambia Police


By Kelvin Mambwe, PhD General Secretary, UNZALARU

The University of Zambia Lecturers and Researchers’ Union (UNZALARU) is appalled at the deteriorating situation of human rights of citizens at the hands of the Zambia Police Service. We note that the Zambia Police Service is an institution whose legal mandate is to ensure security to all citizens and uphold their human rights as enshrined in Zambia’s Constitution. We are equally concerned with the Patriotic Front Government’s reticence whenever the Police are involved in harassing and brutalising innocent citizens. We are left to wonder whether the actions of the Police represent the actions of Government or that the Government does not simply care about the rights of its citizens.

All citizens deserve to be treated with dignity regardless of their ethnicity and political affiliation. Yet the Zambia Police Service appear to have divided Zambians into two sets of citizens; those who belong to the PF and those who do not and more especially those who belong to the opposition political parties. The Police have given a blind eye and rendered a deaf ear to blatant violence and inciting of violence on clear video footage by the PF. However, the same Zambia Police Service is swift to attack or hunt after ordinary citizens, human rights activists, and opposition political party leaders and cadres on the flimsiest of suspicions and sometimes on what appears concocted suspicions.

UNZALARU finds the violent and selective application of the law by Government and the attendant actions of the Zambia Police Service disturbing and a matter of concern for every well-meaning Zambian. We wish to refer the nation to the recent specific actions in which Police violently manhandled and embarrassed the persons of Mrs. Carol Kambwili and her daughter Ms Chanda Kambwili in full view of the public. This incident did not only alarm us but raised serious questions on the ability of the Police to protect citizens, treat them humanely and with dignity even if found on the wrong side of the law.
These recent actions reminded us of the police brutality against unarmed students in their hostels at the University of Zambia in 2018 which led to the unforgettable death of Vespers Shimuzhila, whom the university community continues to mourn to this day. The same Police is responsible for the death of a young pupil by the name of Frank Mugala, nephew of the Deputy Speaker of Parliament, whose life was suddenly cut short by people entrusted with his security. The Human Rights Commission’s investigations have found the Zambia Police Service responsible for these two totally avoidable losses of lives of innocent learners at the hands of law enforcement officers. Unfortunately, the list of such incidents keeps rising unabated. This is what is worrisome.

We therefore wish to express our utmost condemnation on the continued and increasing disregard of human rights by the Zambia Police Service and by the Ministry of Home Affairs that is supposed to oversee actions of the police. UNZALARU strongly feels that the Zambia Police are being abused by those in Government as a tool to settle political scores against perceived opponents and as a way of intimidating citizens as we approach the general elections in 2021.

While UNZALARU appreciates the hostile environment under which the Zambia Police Service are operating which favours errant and overzealous officers over professional and ethical ones who are in constant fear of transfers and retirement in ‘national interest’. We call upon them to remain professional as they serve the nation. We further urge them to always restrain themselves from acting outside the law whenever they are dealing with citizens, especially those seen to have dissenting voices. They must strictly adhere to the highest professional standards and not succumb to undue pressure from government officials or political cadres. The Zambia Police Service command and Government should be worried about the widespread loss of public confidence in the Service which may very easily and swiftly turn into public hostility and mob injustice as well as we witnessed during the spate of gassing incidents across the country recently.

The Zambia Police Service has now, more than ever, the mammoth task of ensuring human rights and law and order. They must therefore not be in the forefront of the rights violations and anarchy we have witnessed so far. We would like to urge all well-meaning citizens, members of our civil society, and international human rights bodies to add their voices against the scourge of police brutality and partiality and not wait until themselves or someone close and dear to them becomes a victim. Injustice against one is injustice against all.


  1. The Zambia Police officers work under instruction. The 3 persons that are under oath to ensure that there’s peace, law and order in the nation are the President, the Minister of Home Affairs and the Inspector General of Police. These 3 individuals are responsible for whatever is happening in the Police Service. Recently a pastor reminded Kakoma Kanganja that he isn’t the 1st to occupy that office, the pastor lamented the breakdown of the law within the ranks of law enforcers. It’s mischievous for the President to pretend as if he doesn’t know what is happening because he has so many sources of information. There are people who are employed to tell him what’s happening in the nation all the time. The mere fact that he hasn’t taken any action is a clear indication that he supports…

  2. The officers of the Zambian Police don’t go to the toilet without the President’s approval. Of course their actions are directed by our leader. It makes me sick to my stomach to think about what is happening to our country.

  3. Very politically charged articles. Just few months ago the same f00ls were praising Zambia police for its handling of alleged assault on its officers at a police station by alleged pf sympathisers. Today they are monsters again. The opposition will only be happy when they are favoured. You cannot rule a country when you promote favouritism. The upnd will never rule this nation. Mark my words

  4. The police are only doing the will of their commander in chief. President Edgar Lungu says that he does not interfere in police activities on one hand but on the other hand he says ‘WE’ shall ensure that there is peace in Zambia. Who are the ‘WE?’ How does they ensure peace except through the police? How does they do so except by telling the police what to do? And by so doing, is that not interfering? WHO appoints the police command?

  5. Corruption scandals: 48 Houses Social Security Cash Luxury Presidential Jet Ambulances Fire Trucks Mukula Trees Ndola-Lusaka Rd Malawi Maizegate Fuelgate Swaziland landgate Zesco Loans

    Good! Now what took so long to write this? Please urge your students to protest police brutality.
    And while you are at it, please make sure you condemn ECZ as well for their actions that appear targetted at suppressing the will of the people in favour of Lungu at next year’s elections.

  6. When the tenure of the Inspector General of Police (IGP) and Minister of Home Affairs (MHA) is dependent on an appointing authority who doesn’t respect human rights and rule of law, then don’t expect any sanctions against police officers who abuse human rights. Institutions such as police should be set up in ways that shield them from political interference. Going forward, the IGP should be appointed through a two thirds majority of MPs. Avoid having a MHA who is appointed by a sitting president override the professional decisions of the IGP unless the MHA is also ratified through two thirds of MPs.

  7. That is the cost of replacing professionalism with caderism. There will be no other result apart from this one. Very tragic indeed for this country.

  8. I was further shocked to see Copperbelt police commissioner say we have arrested the UPND chairman for unlawful assembly because he did not inform the Police of a gathering as if they are ever permitted when they apply. Stop foOling people because your time to account is surely coming.

  9. DISCLAIMER; The views expressed in this article represent the personal views of one KELVIN MAMBWE. They do not represent the views of the members of UNZALARU and should be treated as such by the readership. Dr. Mambwe should have the courage to present his personal views without hiding behind the name of UNZALARU.

  10. The public order act is a very good piece of legislation but it has been abused by the Police. The public order act says people who want to assemble as per what is supposed to be our democracy merely need to notify the Police AND NOT TO SEEK PERMISSION. And even to have it in the evil bill 10 was a waste of time because the issue is not with the Public order act, the issue is the abuse where opposition parties are not allowed to assemble by the Police using powers THEY DONT EVEN HAVE . This cant continue.

  11. Copperbelt Police commissioner even said they arrested the UPND chairman because he did not notify the Police but even when Police is notified, they never ‘permit’ the opposition, this is common knowledge.

  12. And how do we give live ammunition and tear gas to a Police Force that has no idea of crowd control, Mapenzi Chibulo would have been alive, Vespers Shimuzhila would have been alive, Young Frank Ng’ambi whose only crime was going to school on that day would have been alive. We cant continue living like this. NO

  13. The author is a known sympathiser for the UPND hence his objectivity is highly impaired… Therefore the article is subjective…

  14. The worst service since 1964. For some of us who are non partisan but passed through the service, the unprofessionalism we are currently seeing from the service is very embarrassing indeed. A clear partisan approach.

  15. The commonwealth should always second an IG to Zambia. On our own we have failed. Atleast a seconded person wont agree to infuse caders in the Police

  16. I heard Minister of Justice, Chip Whip and Yali President mourning over bill 10 on the PF ZNBC radio news. Please don’t refer to bill 10 as being wanted by Zambians. We did not want it and we do not want it. Public order act is just being abused, it did not even require bill 10 in the first place.

  17. What causes having political party cadres in police uniform is that in Zambia we have allowed the President to appoint the Minister of Home Affairs (MHA) and the Inspector General of Police (IGP). In order to please and serve the appointing authority, the MHA and the IGP turn the police into a partisan police force which is there to suppress the opposition political parties. We are now seeing how the police apply so called POA laws in a discriminatory manner. We need to change who appoints the MHA and IGP so that the police and MHA are truly there to provide law and order service all citizens in free and fair ways. The best approach is to have these positions appointed by a minimum of two thirds of MPs and not the President of a ruling party. By implication, the ruling party president…

  18. Wait a minute. Conditions of service at UNZA are raison d’être of UNZALARU. It is strange to focus on police excessive use of force instead of elaborating university project proposals. Always politicking. Successful project proposals have no political agenda. Successful project proposals have no political party affiliation. Successful project proposals have no acrimony. By definition, policing can result in death, injury, disturbance, discomfort, etc. The assumption that opposition political leaders deserve special treatment is ridiculous. In actual fact, leaders must lead by example. Yes, it is regrettable whenever excessive use of force leads to any of the above. However, it is also important to bear in mind that it takes two to tango. It is irresponsible to take sides in law…

  19. KZ, your fellow PF cadre Tutwa Ngulube voweled to walk naked in Lusaka if Bill 10 fails in parliament. We can’t see a naked Tutwa like a loony, may be has turned into a wild hog in the bush.

  20. When we say this lungu has corrupted every system of good governance in Zambia , Zambians will soon see what we mean….

    It will take at least 10 years of a clean leader with integrity to clear the corruption and moral decay lungu has sawn in Zambia.

    Right now only massive voter dissatisfaction can remove him. 80%. Anything less than 80% of votes against him , he will not be removed. With 80% against him , even those riot military weapons won’t work.

    Any thing less than 80% in votes , lungu , the police , the army and his PF thugs will suppress

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