The Machete Story

The ambiguous statement by President Sata on the sale and distribution of machetes leaves much to be desired.

Speaking to a caucus at State House yesterday, the President is reported to have demurred over the sale and distribution of machetes because some Zambians would be deprived of their livelihood.

The President obviously or deliberately  missed the point to avoid the issue of panga wielding PF militia.

According to Malawian President Joyce Banda, who was at the funeral of Africa Icon, Nelson Mandela, leaders must genuinely fall in love with the people they serve, and become servant leaders.  Zambians are in mourning over the death of a young life lost in very violent circumstances, in which machetes were used, and the inability of the President to categorically speak out against violence and the acquisition and use of machetes in political coersion, brings into doubt, Mrs Banda’s admonishment to her fellow leaders. 

The police have failed to tell the nation the source of the violence and machetes’ which were used by a militia which had been supplied in a well organised and financed militia operation, to cause death and mayhem.

Zambians are naturally, concerned by the proliferation and abuse of machetes as now being used as offensive weapons in political confrontation as was the case resulting in the death on one Moses Simuwela whose cause of death although in doubt was the direct result of a violent confrontation in which these offensive weapons were used.

Like all Zambians we would have appreciated the President shedding some light on the incident that resulted in a panga wielding militia terrorising Lusaka and in the process injuring and maiming many Zambians.  There has been no explanation from this government about this incident.  Nobody has explained where the machetes came from, who bought them in bulk, who distributed them to the militia that went into town wielding them.

But perhaps more importantly who masterminded this attack.

The police must know the ring leader of this militia and if we cannot be told now we shall wait for an appropriate time, perhaps after this regime, to find the truth.

The police and all those responsible for security must know that it is not an easy matter to hide circumstances that lead to a death especially the  death of a young, vibrant and very healthy individual of 18 years.  Nobody, least of all we at the Daily Nation,  believe that Simuwela could have died of natural causes unless ofcourse such causes were brought about by a deliberate truncation of normal physical systems.  But this can hardly be called natural causes.

Like Simuwela’s parents, we are waiting for information on this matter and like the rest of the nation we want to get to the bottom of the panga wielding militia that held this city captive.  On that fateful Thursday and indeed on the following day when the city remained jittery and police were forced to move from one precinct to another assuring citizens that there was no more mayhem to be expected.  This terrorism cannot go unpunished.

The wrist slaps being proposed by useless charges in courts of law will neither assuage nor provide comfort to Zambians who are genuinely interested in the peaceful well being of the nation where no individual should wield a panga against another without facing punishment.

That is why it is most unfortunate that the president has allowed an opportunity when he had all his patriotic front operatives at state house to offer counsel against violent conduct and impunity, to go begging.  We should not wait for another “war”, this time perhaps amongst parties, to erupt before we shed crocodile tears.  The time is now to deal firmly and decisively against law breakers.

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