No one can be happy about smuggling of anything out of Zambia. No one can be happy about the rampant smuggling of mealie meal on the Copperbelt into the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo. But then, no one can be happy about the killing of Zambians that try to engage in this illegal trade.
We received shocking news on Friday of a killing of a man on his bicycle by Zambia National Service officers in Ndola who have been charged with the responsibility of curtailing smuggling of this staple food that is now costing a fortune in our local stores. It is only about a month ago when another Zambian Stephen Banda was shot by the same Zambia National Service officers when he was suspected to be smuggling mealie meal into the Democratic Republic of Congo. How far these matters will go is a story we will discuss another day. But today, we specifically want to address this killing of Zambians that are being suspected of smuggling mealie meal into the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Because the demand for this staple food is high in our country at the moment while supply isn’t adequate, the price has gone up. This means those selling this commodity across the border (in the Democratic Republic of Congo) are making a fortune out of this business.
To restrict this illegal trade, the government genuinely put in place measures to stop the trend so that there’s no shortage of mealie meal in local markets.
Therefore, a team of security men led by the Zambia National Service was put in place to stop smuggling. It looked like a good plan – well it is. However, that decision is quickly being put into question because these officers seem to be in a hurry to pull the trigger at anyone that may be suspected of engaging in smuggling. Should this be the case to stop this illegal trade? Definitely not, and the Chifubu member of parliament Frank Ng’ambi is very right to express anger on this behaviour of the officers. Nobody can be happy with this. Two of the citizens have died so far the ZNS officers’ hands and we shudder to think what next is coming if nothing is done to stop this behaviour.
Mr Ng’ambi has asked the Zambia National Service to stop killing those suspected of smuggling mealie meal. These are human beings only trying to make ends meet. From the pictures seen which we have failed to share as they are in bad taste, you can clearly see that this young man was just trying hard to survive the current economic situation. But then, someone acted without thinking twice and pulled that trigger!
This is not the desire of the government and the team tasked with fighting this scourge of smuggling. May be it’s time other law enforcers were engaged in this exercise because clearly, Zambia National Service officers are up to something that very few are able to see.