Harassment of Nawakwi

It never ceases to amaze us that Police always find it possible to mobilize transport, officers teargas canisters and indeed the requisite anger and aggravation against opposition political parties at the slightest hint of a meeting.

For some reason the police have been indoctrinated into believing that any opposition meeting is an offence that must be dealt with in the harshest possible manner including teargassing, clubbing and even shooting those involved because such meetings are against the public order Act.

It is for this reason that Ndola police last Wednesday invaded an indoor meeting of the FDD party addressed by party President Edith Nawakwi.

Fortunately having been a minister and conscientious civil rights activist Nawakwi stood her ground and rightly so and challenged them to clarify and define the law she had abrogated by holding an indoor meeting.

There is no law in this country which prevents people from meeting.  There is no such thing as an illegal meeting.

In the next few days we shall be reproducing the ruling of Mulundika and others in which the Supreme Court very clearly declared itself on the side of the people when it proscribed the need for a licence or permission from the police for people to meet.

For some reason the police still insist that such a law exist and that anybody who holds a meeting without their approval is committing an offence.

For lack of any doubt the Supreme Court stated quite clearly that in a democracy there was no need for a licence or permission from the police for citizens to come together to exchange ideas or indeed perform any other tasks they have set for themselves.

We have challenged the police to produce the law they are using to harass, hound and generally break the law to prevent police from meeting.  This has not been done because such law does not exist.

It must be emphasized that Zambia as a democracy has a constitution, however, inadequate which recognizes the various inalienable rights of the people incorporated in part 111 of the constitution which spells out the protection of the fundamental rights and freedoms of the individual.

The individual has among other things the right to freedom of conscience, expression, assembly, movement and association.  Therefore FDD president Edith Nawakwi, had every right to meet people of like mind because they have freedom of association and assembly, which freedom guarantees that they are free to disagree with the ruling party and articulate a different philosophy and political belief which they can canvass in order to enter state house.

There is absolutely no requirement for conformity in party patronage.

Our hope therefore is that the opposition will quickly come together and combat intolerance which is likely to get worse as the time for the 2016 elections draws near.

We have one country only to defend with our multiparty dispensation and anything that takes away from it should be fought in the most logical, legal and consistent manner possible.

2016 will undoubtedly pose a major challenge to the nation as more parties have developed thereby multiplying challenges and aspirations to Plot One to which every single Zambian has a right to aspire.

Plot One as a symbol of national unity is beyond party affiliation.  It can be occupied by any party but must be seen to serve all citizens regardless.