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Time To Improve Police Conditions, End Of Corruption Depends On It

LUSAKA, Apr. 28 - For sometime now, there has been a lot of political lip-service on the improvement of accommodation and conditions for policemen and women in Zambia.

Successive ministers, their deputies and permanent secretaries have toured camps and entered the squad living quarters of police officers, but everything has ended at pledges made before television cameras.

Yet this is a group of workers which is roundly attacked and called all sorts of names by thieves, but very little has been done to improve the situation.

Like every body else, police officers have children who go to schools where fees must be paid. They go to hospitals and clinics where drugs are merely prescribed and they have to buy the medicines from private pharmacies.

If Zambia wants to see policemen and women stop extorting money from motorists at roadblocks, time has come to motivate this group of civil servants.

They need good salaries and habitable homes; not the kind Home Affairs Permanent Secretary Peter Mumba and his Finance ministry counterpart Richard Chizyuka found when they inspected some police camps in Lusaka on Monday.

What the two permanent secretaries found is a veritable scandal. But sadly, that is not new, even if they were reported to have been shocked. Mr Mumba, however, observed that in the last 10 to 12 years police and other wings had not been well looked after.

We hope that permanent secretaries -- Mumba and Chizyuka will make a difference from others that have visited the camps and similar places where policemen and women live.

Poor housing and unfavourable conditions of service should be a challenge too, for Inspector-General of police Zunga Siakalima who has been in that position before.

What is required is a permanent solution to the crisis of accommodation for police. The question of resources should no longer continue to be an excuse.

Why, for instance, can't the Government use prisoners throughout the country to mould bricks for building the houses?

After making bricks the Zambia National Service (ZNS) builders brigade could be engaged to construct the houses in police camps. The country will never have enough resources for the Government to embark on an ambitious housing project for the police.

But with the above suggestion a start will have been made.

Unless we improve the welfare of police officers, the fight against corruption will be a futile exercise.

The Times of Zambia / allAfrica Global Media

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