Lungu promises action on arsonists
LUSAKA. – Zambia’s President Edgar Lungu has expressed the desire to take stringent action against suspected arsonists behind market fires in the capital Lusaka.
He said upon arrival from the African Union Heads of States Summit in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa that the security services will “up their game” to curb such occurrences.
“If it means taking measures which are unprecedented we will do just that; some people will have to lose their rights. People who have lost their property have lost their livelihoods. So if I become a dictator for once bear with me,” President Lungu was quoted by local media. He interacted with victims of the market fire who he assured of compensation and government support to restore their livelihood.
“If it means taking measures which are unprecedented we will do just that; some people will have to lose their rights . . . So if I become a dictator for once bear with me. “Please do not take the law in your hands,” Lungu added as he spoke to the City Market victims when he visited the incident scene.
Lusaka’s biggest City Market was razed on Tuesday morning, hours after another market was also burned down. The act is believed to have been perpetrated by arsonists as security services conduct their investigations.
Main opposition United Party for National Development (UPND) has called on security services to “take a professional and thorough look as to what could have caused this unfortunate incident”.
It said in a statement signed by its National Chairperson Mutale Nalumango that it is too early to speculate. “It is in the same vein that we call upon those that find comfort in politicising such tragedies to lay off their hands and let independent professionals do their job unhindered,” the statement added while consoling with victims.
The Zambian police has increased the 300,000 Zambian kwacha ($32,894.74) reward it earlier announced to 500,000 Zambian kwacha ($54 181,63) for those who give information leading to the arrest of the suspected arsonists.
Meanwhile, the Zambia Daily Mail reported yesterday that a UPND advisor has applauded the burning of Lusaka City Market by his “friends” and has called for more of such acts of destruction.
London-based social media campaign coordinator Larry Mweetwa congratulated his friends for the deed in a posting on his Facebook page. “Job well done bane (friends). Let us intensify such acts,” says Mweetwa, who is also believed to be a strategist for the opposition political party.
He attributes the burning of the market to the arrest of the UPND president, Hakainde Hichilema. “Zambia is on fire as I speak due to the arrest of HH (Hichilema),” he states in a message he posted shortly after the fire started.
Some of his followers, however, were so worried at the time of the posting that they, too, would suffer as they have stalls in the market.
Earlier this year, court premises in Lusaka, Kabwe and Mongu were torched and Mweetwa claimed the incidents were works of the UPND. – Africa News/Zambia Daily Mail. (The Herald)