JUSTICE Minister Mulambo Haimbe says the Public Order Act is among the pieces of legislation that will be reviewed.
And Lukashya PF member of parliament George Chisanga says he will give the UPND a thumbs up if they actually go ahead and amend the POA.
In an interview, Haimbe said the POA would support freedom of expression as well as guaranteed freedoms in the constitution.
“It is one of the pieces of legislation that are under review. It will be reviewed but essentially, it is to make sure that it is keeping with the aspirations of the people of ensuring that we have a legislation that supports freedom of expression and the guaranteed freedoms that are in the constitution. The very aspect of legislative change is one of the key areas. And the rest of it is about political will. We just need to do things differently,” said Haimbe.
When asked to give a time frame for this exercise, Haime said “that will be guided by Cabinet.”
And in a separate interview, Chisanga said he had not seen any indication that UPND would amend the POA.
“It is not an issue of saying ‘just amend the POA’ it is an amendment that brings about political legitimacy, that creates an environment in which we are going to operate because this is what we have agreed as a nation that we are going to do. I would be naive to tell you that the UPND are going to amend the POA, if they are going to amend it, I will give them a thumbs up. I had said in Parliament during my maiden speech that there has been this song about the need for us to respect the rule of law. That for me is an indicator that there is potential that this amendment can take place. But I will not be sitting in a place today to accept the suggestion that they can amend it,” Chisanga said.
“I have not seen the motivation and I don’t think in a very short time you are going to see that motivation. But it is just necessary that we do the amendment. But also begin to interrogate this at a deeper level where we need to have a mindset shift. Any commissioner of police who will be appointed will immediately think they have a duty to protect their position. So if the opposition apply for a permit, they will have to make phone calls that are unnecessary to try and protect their positions. So it is a mindset thing that we have to look at.”
Chisanga lamented that the police had consistently been doing what they were not supposed to do with regard to the issuance of police permits.
“The police have consistently been doing what they are not supposed to do, if they know that it is George Chisanga who is trying to ask for a permit or who is notifying them because they keep thinking that we are supposed to get a permit. We are not supposed to get a police permit, it is not a requirement. The whole Public Order Act required a permit which the High Court and the Supreme Court found to be unconstitutional. So maybe we need to move beyond this rhetoric of politics and say for ourselves what we would want to see happen,” he said.
“Because frankly, the police will be able to tell you ‘we will not give you a permit, that means you should stay away’. So you have taken the responsibility of a constitutionally guaranteed right, and put it in the hands of the police to determine where you can exercise your rights and whether you can exercise your rights or not. The next interrogation must be what do we need to do as a nation and my assessment is that maybe we need to have a political paradigm shift where we agree ourselves do we need this permit or does the police retain the right of telling you [that] ‘you can’t gather’.”
Chisanga claimed that President Hakainde Hichilema might have removed all the provincial police commissioners because they did not give him police permits while he was in the opposition.
“If you notice the experience that His Excellency HH had, every time he asked for a permit and he asked for so many of them, they kept telling him ‘you can’t’ and his answer was very categorical, he was saying ‘I know you are working under instructions from higher offices’. But now he is occupying the higher office, if the police refuse to give me a permit, am I going to interpret that as an action that is informed by the higher office? Especially if you notice what the President did, when he got into power, he removed all the provincial commissioners may be with good intentions. But for me who is sitting on the other side, I am thinking because the guys were not giving him a permit,” said Chisanga.