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Scrapping of defamation of president law worries Imenda


PRESIDENT Hakainde Hichilema should have waited before scrapping the defamation of the president law because this move has exposed him to malicious attacks by Zambians, United Party for National Development (UPND) Deputy Secretary General Getrude Imenda has said.

Ms Imenda, who indicated that her stance did not represent the party but her views, said she was a bit sceptical because most Zambians were not that civil to offer proper checks and balances as history had shown that the president was targeted maliciously.

Ms Imenda said it was a progressive move but that the implications would be bad because most Zambians would not see the positive side of the move.

“For me, I feel the President should have waited because most Zambians are not civil to see the positive side of the move,” she said.

She said the head of state risked exposing himself to a barrage of insults and innuendoes which would be very unfortunate.

“We should celebrate this but I feel the President should have waited a bit,” Ms Imenda said. 

Meanwhile, governance activist Isaac Mwanza said the repealing of the law on defamation of the President from the Penal Code by Parliament is a job half done for President Hichilema’s administration for which he must be commended.

 but the must be encouraged to do more for it to be fully abolished.

Mr Mwanza said the repeal of Section 69 of the Penal Code would not significantly change the country’s democratic landscape unless the government proceeds to further repeal the entire Chapter 18, inclusive of Chapter 8, of the Penal Code which maintains criminal defamation on the statutes.

Last week, President Hichilema abolished the death penalty and the defamation of the president in the penal code. 

He said the repealed Section 69 was solely used for convenience by the Zambia Police in charging persons that issue defamatory remarks against the President because even after the repeal, the Police still have power to arrest and charge any person with criminal defamation of the President based on provisions of Chapter 18 of the Penal Code.

Mr Mwanza has since advised the public that it was too early for anyone to celebrate the repeal of Section 69 of the Penal Code as a victory for democracy until Chapter 18 of the Penal Code was repealed.

“As you may see from Chapter 18 of the Penal Code, the law is replete with many provisions for charging persons with defamation of the President even in the absence of the repealed Section 69 of the Penal Code,” he said.


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