The Public Order Act in Zambia is used to repress rights and freedom of expression, association and assembly. The human rights defenders, journalists and opposition political parties has been increasingly restricted. Section 5(4) of the act provided that anyone intending to assemble or host a meeting or demonstration was required to give the police one week notice/seven days’ notice. The police think this is a requirement to obtain prior authorization for any public assembly to proceed and become a bit aggressive when individuals have no permit for a peaceful demonstration.
I am a student and the recent development where the minister of higher Education Dr. Nkandu Luo announced on public and private media firms that the new students at the University of Zambia will not be receiving meal allowances was disheartening and knowing the struggles my fellow students and putting into considerations the students that come from homes where upkeep would be a struggle , meaning some will have to withdraw from school others abandon the possibility of getting an education from the highest learning institution in Zambia. When some students tried to begin and suggest a peaceful demonstration the police released a memo on 19th-02-2019 that any students that will participate shall be held accountable and such will not be condoned, and should the protest materialize police will not spare them.
The use of force unnecessarily, one of the opposition party leaders in our country was arrested and charged with treason and disobeying a lawful order following an earlier incident in which the motorcade of the opposition refused to give way to the president’s convoy.
Security forces and political activists affiliated with the patriotic front subjected media workers, political activists and others who criticized the government to harassment and intimidation, on the 3rd of March, for example, patriotic front loyalists stormed the State of Law Association of Zambia offices demanding the resignation of its president Linda Kasonde.
The government at one point verbally attacked the judiciary which undermined the independence of the institution, which generally polarized citizen’s perception of the institution where it was assumed that some judges were not politically independent.
In conclusion, the Public order act was/is being used to repress rights to freedom of association, assembly and expression as explained above, unnecessary force was used by the police against peaceful protesters and failed to address violence groups close to the government. The debate from a neutral point of view and perspective is pretty clear and the fact many changes and constrains are being made on the freedom of individuals defeats the purpose of liberty and the basic principles that are at its core foundation.
Joshua Banda, Zambia
He is a participant in the February edition of the YAFO Ambassador Course. This is 2nd of the best three articles for week 3 assignment on identifying public policy that hinders economic freedom.