Editorial

Abusing Public Order Act

THE Public Order Act is now a hot topic among political stakeholders on how it is being applied by the Zambia Police Service.

This is more so since the governing party, the United Party for National Development (UPND) was a strong critic of how the POA was being applied when the Patriotic Front was in government.

The UPND while in opposition complained that the POA was a tool by the PF regime to silence its rivals using the police.

This time around, there are insinuations that the new dawn administration is using the same tactics as their predecessors to keep the opposition at bay.

That is the more reason we hope the Zambia Police Service have strong grounds for summoning Mr Sean Tembo, the president of the Patriots for Economic Progress (PeP) and not over the so-called media briefing held yesterday in Lusaka.

The Police ought to realise that they are under spotlight and whatever they do, is in full view of the public.

According to Mr Tembo, the summons relate to the media briefing yesterday held at Southern Sun Hotel by seven opposition leaders to raise serious concerns over public and governance issues.

According to Mr Tembo, his contacts have tipped him that he has been summoned in connection with a joint press briefing held with other political parties.

Mr. Tembo confirmed to the Daily Nation that he received a call from the police yesterday summoning him to appear at the police headquarters at 10:00 hours today.

He said according to his sources, it is in connection with the media briefing by a consortium of opposition political parties where they threatened to write to President Hakainde Hichilema over his continued suppression and undermining of the opposition.

Indeed, the police must explain why they singled out Mr Tembo from the other opposition leaders who were at the media briefing.

The leaders included Mr Harry Kalaba of the Democratic Party, New Heritage Party leader, Ms Chishala Kateka, People’s Alliance for Change Mr Andyford Banda, National Democratic Congress leader, Ms Saboi Imboela, Economic Freedom Fighters leader, Mr Kasonde Mwenda and United for Better Zambia leader, Mr Hector Soondo.

It is important that police are seen to be acting independently because what is obtaining now appears to be a campaign targeted against opposition leaders.

It is an open secret that Mr Tembo has been one of the most vocal critics of the new dawn administration. 

But that is one of the basic roles of being an opposition party, to provide checks and balances against the governing party and done within the confines of the law.

It definitely goes against the democratic tenets for the police to question opposition leaders for hold a media briefing at which they are not proposing lawlessness.

That is why Zambia’s former ambassador to Ethiopia, Emmanuel Mwamba feels that summoning the opposition leaders who addressed a press briefing yesterday is a clear example of abuse of the POA which he says should quickly be amended,.

Mr Mwamba said the decision to summon opposition leaders who held a press briefing yesterday brings into sharp focus the debate that must push for changes regarding the Public Order Act.

The new dawn administration must uphold the principles on which it campaigned to win the August 12, 2021 tripartite elections, to restore real democracy in the country by not abusing the Public Order Act through the police.

Moreover, President Hakainde Hichilema, a frequent victim of the POA, having experienced firsthand its oppressiveness was emphatic when he stated that his administration would be anchored on the rule of law.

This is why the country demands that police abandon that heavy handed approach used against opposition figures for they have every right to be heard. 

It won’t help anyone to have them summoned for questioning every time they have a media briefing.

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