LIVINGSTONE Central UPND member of parliament Mathews Jere says the recently-enacted Cyber Security and Cyber Law of 2021 will be used as a campaign tool for the PF in the upcoming general election.
And Jere has urged citizens to take keen interest in reading and understanding the contents of the controversial new law to avoid getting caught out by Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs), who will now be on the prowl for offenders.
Last Friday, Special Assistant to the President for Press and Public Relations Isaac Chipampe announced that President Edgar Lungu signed the Bill on March 23 and hoped that it would bring sanity in the manner the Internet was being used in Zambia.
Commenting on the development, Jere feared that the new Cyber Security law, together with the draconian Public Order Act, would now be used by the PF to stop the opposition from campaigning freely on various media platforms.
“It is a campaign tool, that is why they rushed to assent to it. There should have been wider consultation with stakeholders because the only source of information that was left was social media, they want to clamp it. People are supposed to freely express their views on matters concerning their welfare, more especially this year that it would be a year of elections. People need to have access to information, those that are participating should be able to freely disseminate this information, but unfortunately, they have clamped all media houses! Most of them are unable to report without partiality. So, that is the more reason why they have now decided to go ahead with this law,” Jere said in an interview.
“We saw what happened in Uganda (during that country’s general election in January), that there was a lot of interference when it came to the opposition campaigning. They were not given the space to campaign and disseminate information to would-be voters. So, probably this law, coupled with what we have already like the challenge of the Public Order Act, when it comes to the implementation of the Public Order Act, it was being applied in a biased manner. When it is PF, the Public Order Act does not apply. We saw that cadres and civil societies that were dancing ‘Dununa Reverse’ could demonstrate without notifying the police, and yet in all fairness, no one is above the law. We have seen how it is hard and difficult just for our president (Hakainde Hichilema) to attend a funeral. You remember when we lost the youth provincial chairman for Copperbelt; he was stopped from attending a funeral, using the same piece of legislation, the Public Order Act. So, now, coupled with that, there is another one that has been enacted now, so we will be having two challenges. So, that is the challenge that we have. However, where there is a will, there is always a way. People should not be intimidated, people should be focused that this is the time for change and change will be inevitable. Otherwise, if we don’t do that, we risk having the one-party state.”
And Jere urged citizens to carefully read and understand the contents of the newly-enacted law to avoid getting caught unaware.
“We can only urge members of the public to take keen interest in reading so that they can understand what are the dos and don’ts because if they don’t, unfortunately, ignorance of the law will not be entertained. Once the law is passed, it is assumed that every citizen is aware and knows about the content of that piece of information. That being the case, it means that members of the public should be able to read through. However, we should be able to look at what will be contained in the Electoral Process Bill that we are now looking at as a committee to see how people will be able to access places like prisons. So, it has passed and members of the public should be able to take keen interest and understand the law,” advised Jere.