HH interfered with Investigations

By Venus N Msyani

The gassing and abduction investigations were interfered with by the president during the address to the media on matters of national interest at State House in the capital Lusaka on Wednesday 5th, 2024.

Around January 2020 something very un-Zambian emerged in a known peaceful southern African country Zambia. Unknown people started spraying people with gas chemicals. The first report emerged in a town called Chingola in Copperbelt Province. Within a short period, reports started coming from other parts of the country. It became so serious that lives were lost. Mainly by mob justice.

There were more deaths from mob justice as gassing spread countrywide according to a headline by News Diggers on February 18, 2020. Among the headlines that flooded online news platforms in Zambia relating the very issue at that time. Happening at a time of a fast-growing campaign for the August 2021 general election, gassing evoked finger-pointing among politicians, which has not stopped ever since.

“You were gassing people. We have now decided to do a formal investigation, who was gassing people, for what reason.” Hichilema said during the recent address. A very good example of such finger-pointing.

Unfortunately, Hichilema has interfered with the very investigation if it is true, it is being done or considered. Saying you were gassing people makes President Hichilema the accuser. It implies the president has the names of gassers, which put those involved in investigating the matter in a fix as it is not easy to oppose the head of state. In short, the investigation on gassing has been compromised.

The same applies to Petauke Central independent member of parliament Emanuel Banda’s current issue. It is alleged Mr. Banda, popularly known as JayJay, went missing on May 25th at night in the Ibex Hill area in Lusaka. JayJay was found but not in good shape. He has not spoken to the public about his disappearance yet.

His case is attracting a situation similar to gassing. Finger pointing. The main opposition Patriotic Front (PF) feels Hon. Banda is a victim of abduction and accuses the United Party for National Development (UPND) government of being behind it.

“So, we have a member of parliament from Eastern Province. A passerby found a car abandoned and didn’t take long, it was identified as that one belonging to a member of parliament Honorable JayJay Banda, and by morning we became aware of it. I think that was Saturday morning. We became aware of his missing and clearly an apparent abduction.

What raised our concern was a report from the police that they had found a suicide note in the car and the suicide note was written poorly. Immediately these raised alarm to all of us. We immediately termed it as an abduction or a kidnapping because JayJay is very close to the former president Edgar Chagwa Lungu, Zambia’s sixth president. And way currently is that there is a big political tussal between the current president Hakainde Hichilema and the former president Edgar Lungu.

Further, JayJay Banda and the former president and all of us around the former president have received threats. Some public some private. Before that, the current president, President Hakainde Hichilema had been issuing statements saying he will not allow his predecessor to participate in politics or to come back into office and is made these numerous public utterances I think these are the ones that have incited the threats against the former president and for people like JayJay Banda.”

Narrated former Ambassador to Ethiopia Emanuel Mwamba on BBC Focus on Africa. Ambassador Mwamba is the current main opposition PF Information and Publicity chairperson. Hichilema administration seems to agree that JayJay was abducted. Disagreement is on who abducted him. According to Home Affairs and Internal Security Minister Jack Mwiimbu the matter will be thoroughly investigated.

“I want to inform the nation that our colleague is in a safe environment until we thoroughly investigate the matter. We need to protect him; we do not know who is responsible for the abduction. I would like to assure the family that we will ensure the perpetrators of this heinous crime are brought to book. It is in the interest of the nation and the family to know who is behind this criminal activity,” Mwiimbu said during a press briefing after JayJaw was found.

Saying we don’t know who is responsible for the abduction implies the minister agree JayJay was abducted. Mwiimbu said we are thoroughly investigating the matter. That is the direction of this article.

On Wednesday 5th, 2024 during a press briefing the president called Hon. Banda a thug. It is an interference with the investigation of JayJay abduction. Calling JayJay a thug when his case is being investigated is another way of ordering the investigation not to consider the victim rights. Coming from the head of state, it can be concluded JayJay abduction claim will not receive a fair investigation.

“I know one thug who went into central police and beat the hell out of the policemen and was never put behind bars,” Hichilema said during the briefing on June 5. The president didn’t mention JayJay, but is easy to tell he was referring to him. JayJay Banda. is alleged to have assaulted a police officer at Central Police in Lusaka back in 2020.

“Banda and his accomplices stormed Lusaka Central Police Station and beat up a police officer and allegedly walked away with money belonging to the said officer.” Reported Zambian Observers on October 6, 2020 under the headline Jay Banda, others plead not guilty to aggravated assault. This make sense to conclude Hichilema was referring to JayJay.

To allow fair investigation, the president should have not said anything associated with JayJay. On gassing, it was also not wise for Hichilema to comment because of investigation. If he needed to, the right way to say it was to avoid pointing finger by avoiding ‘you.’ “Gassing took place. We have now decided to do a formal investigation, who was gassing people, for what reason.” Was the right way to say it.

Sadly, gassing and abduction investigation were interfered with by HH during his address to the media on matters of national interest on Wednesday 5th, 2024.

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