Public outrage after police in Zambia are banned from marrying foreigners

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The public in Zambia is outraged by a memo by the country’s police chief that officers have been banned from marrying foreigners.

“Be informed that the Police High Command has with immediate effect directed that no police officer should marry a foreigner,” the memo, dated January 11, by the Inspector General of Police Kakoma Kanganja read.

The memo also said those who were already married to foreigners should declare this within a week adding that failure to do so would “attract disciplinary action”.

Zambians took to social media to criticize the move, after the order was leaked to the public, saying it was unlawful as it violates the officers’ right to choose a spouse.

Police spokeswoman Esther Katongo defended the move saying officers are informed about the directive before joining the service.

“Issues of security are delicate. If not careful, spouses can be spies and can sell the security of the country.”

“Security is paramount,” Ms Katongo said adding that “Can you have human rights during instability?”

She said officers had previously obeyed the ban but the new order had been thought necessary because some police had begun ignoring it.

“There are a few officers who have started marrying foreigners,” she said. “They are ignoring the previous requirement and this is why another standing order has been passed to remind officers what they are supposed to do and not supposed to do.”

She said it was likely officers who had married foreigners would now be given “some rules they should follow”.

Asked why such measures were necessary, Ms Katongo said: “When you get married, they say that you are one. You know what marriage is – you share secrets. And you can tell officers ‘do not disclose’ but you have no control. You won’t be in their homes to always check on them.

However, Reginald Ntomba, on a Facebook post said “Police officers who shoot and harm innocent citizens are a bigger danger to national security than the nationality of their spouses.”

“That the ‘High Command’ is more concerned about its officers’ spouses than the appallingly low levels of professionalism in its ranks reflects a frightening misallocation of priorities,” he added.

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