JUSTICE Minister Mulambo Haimbe says the review of the Public Order Act will determine the extent to which the act can continue to exist.
Commenting on remarks by outgoing US Embassy in Zambia interim Chargé d’Affaires David Young that Zambia needed to get rid of the Public Order Act, Haimbe said there must be some degree of control of public activities.
“Essentially, the review will determine the extent to which the act continues to remain in place. As things stand, we don’t have Cabinet approval yet. But obviously there must be some degree of control of public activities. The extent to which there is that control is what determines whether or not it is in conflict with our democratic [issues] or otherwise. So, I think it is best once we see the necessary reviews, the review we will take is what will determine the extent to which it supports democracy. But for us, our role is to ensure that democracy is enhanced,” said Haimbe.
During a media briefing, Tuesday, Young said the Public Order Act undermined democracy.
“One of the other things we have raised as a concern very strongly is the Public Order Act. We have emphasized to the new government of President Hichilema, his advisors, his minister that the POA is one of the laws that undermines democracy more strongly. The bottom line is if you are in government, if you are in power, you like the POA, if you are in opposition, you don’t like the POA. But we need to level the playing field so that all parties; UPND, PF, DP, Socialist Party, MMD, everybody will have the chance to compete fairly going forward. So, I think one of the legal reforms that I hope and trust that Zambia will take up and focus on is either repealing or dramatically amending the POA,” said Young.
“I think the POA has got to go. I think that is one of the things that if I can look on across the border and see that the POA is done away with, I think that will be a really positive thing to strengthen Zambia’s democracy. A lot of SADC countries, a lot of countries across Africa don’t have a law like that. You don’t need it anymore. You got a lot of great things from my friends, the British but you don’t need to keep that one anymore. Get rid of the POA.”