Reform the Public Order Act for the good of 2021 general elections – JCTR

The Jesuit Center for Theological Reflection JCTR in Zambia says that the Public Order POA Act has been one of the most contentious pieces of legislation both in content and in its implementation for a very long time in Zambia.

Speaking during a social Forum on POA in Lusaka on Wednesday, JCTR Executive Director Fr. Emmanuel Mumba has reiterated the need to educate the police on the Public Order Act adding that speedy attention is needed in its reformation.

Fr Mumba discloses that if the Act is not tabled in time major problems are likely to take place during the 2021 general elections adding that the Sesheke commotion is an indication of what might happen in the 156 constituencies during presidential elections.

“Everyone has the right to gather publicly and this is why we all must take interest in the reforms of the Public Order Act. Us as JCTR are participating in the reforms and it is important that constructive contributions are made towards the POA reforms.” He said.

And Vice Chairperson of the Legal Affairs, Human Rights, Gender Matters and Governance Committee, and Member of Parliament for Lumwezi Constituency, Pilila Jere has pronounced that public order is necessary in order for the society to safely function.

Hon. Jere has stated that the committee has noted that the Act is one of the pieces of legislation earmarked for review in the 7NDP 2017/2021.

“Throughout the years 2017 and 2018, the Ministry of Justice and other government departments and agencies, encouraged citizens and other stakeholders, particularly political parties, to submit their views on how to make the Public Order Act responsive to the needs of our dynamic society.” She said.

Meanwhile Ministry of Justice Principal Legal Officer, Francis Chilunga has articulated that the POA clearly prohibits the breach of peace at public assemblies adding that notification of police 7 days prior is vital in maintaining peace and order.“The breach of peace is prohibited at public gatherings and this why it is very essential to notify the police beforehand to ensure that order is maintained and no clashes are experienced.” He alleged.

By Ricky Mwakwa

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