By Sycorax Tiyesa Ndhlovu
Many parents and members of our society increasingly complain against and blame many female and male youths for the growing unbecoming behaviour against our societal morals, acceptable conduct and criminal activities.
Spanning a video camera in any prison today, one finds that majority faces serving prison sentences are those of young people who have the potential to contribute to the development of this country.
This implies that youths commit most of the gender-based violence (GBV), rape, defilements, drug abuse and many other crimes. Some youths are also used in political violence related offences. However, even adults are also involved in such crimes, if not in worse ones.
For instance, Electoral Code of Conduct is one of those laws which many other adults; including some politicians breach. Munali legislator, Professor Nkandu Luo said some adults use youths to commit serious crimes.
But few people have asked themselves why such sad developments are growing at alarming rates. Little do we know the causes of such sad developments in our Christian nation!
Conducting a research on such developments might reveal that our society has, firstly, many people who just observe wrong things happening without condemning and punishing those who conduct themselves against our morals and against our legal framework. Secondly, such developments further demonstrate that our society has inadequate, some vague and inappropriate laws. It also implies that good laws that exist are poorly or inadequately enforced. In short, rule of law is seriously being eroded in Zambia.
It’s important to understand how law affects human behaviour, peace and stability in society.
Law has many different connotations and, therefore, different meanings to various people such as individual citizens, lawyers, judges, law-makers and other professionals depending on what one does with or how one uses it.
However, N D Kapoor (1999:1), ‘Elements of Mercantile Law’ states that law includes all the rules and principles which regulate our relations with other individuals and with the state.
Philip S James (1985:6), ‘Introduction to English Law’ defines law as a set of rules which are generally obeyed and enforced within a politically organized society.
James states that law is a prescription rather than a description of human behaviour (ibid: 4). This implies that one cannot legislate to suit what is necessarily happening now; but to make laws which promote accepted behaviour for specific purposes in society.
In this perspective, Kapoor states that law has two-fold aspect: it’s an abstract body of rules and also social machinery for securing order in a given society (op.cit).
Because of the importance of law in society, its origin can be traced with God; The Creator himself. In Genesis 2:16(NIV), God instructed Adam and Eve not to eat the fruit from the tree in the centre of the Garden of Eden. Secondly, in Exodus 20: 1-17, God gave us the Ten Commandments to obey or else.
For not obeying God’s laws, in Genesis 3:14-17, for instance, God cursed the serpent, Eve and Adam and all their descendants with various punishments; including toiling before eating; and lastly, dying.
Even for children, in Proverbs 13: 24, God says he who spares the rod hates his son; but he who loves him is careful to discipline him.
Therefore, from God’s laws and their punishments for disobedience, we learn three things. Firstly, that it’s important to have appropriate laws in society; and secondly, that such laws should be known and obeyed; and lastly, but not the least, that whoever breaks the law should be punished.
For law to serve its purpose, citizens should know law; and understand the consequences of breaking it. Those responsible for enforcing various laws, should do so fairly and effectively.
Supervisors and law enforcement agencies such as Zambia Police (ZP), Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), courts of law and many other private and public institutions are critical if laws are to serve their purposes which culminate in keeping law and order in society. Such a situation enhances national security.
Haphazard, biased and selective application of law is the source; and therefore, cause of chaos that can lead to untold bloodshed in a country. Abuse of office through conflict of interest can also negatively affect fair and effective law enforcement.
For decades now, for various reasons, Zambia, like many African countries, hasn’t been fair and effective in legislation, law reforms and law enforcement. Consequently, some citizens, some officers and some organisations have taken advantage of such weak and ineffective legal environment and law enforcement system. Such developments are against public interest.
Cases in point are malpractices in voter registration, buying of voter’s cards, political violence, etc some of which happened before, during and after the August 11, 2016 general elections.
Some lives and properties were lost due to political violence. Some politicians warned of Armageddon if they lost in the August 11, 2016 polls. Some politicians are still promoting insurgency after losing elections.
Moreover, despite having a law against tribalism, some politicians promote tribalism. Against laws of the land, some politicians abuse freedom of speech and some media houses misuse press freedom. Also reflect on how some ZP officers and some court officers abuse their offices contrary both to their professional code of conduct and to the laws of the land.
The increased offences and crimes in every corner of Zambia’s society is a sign that we have challenges with adequacy of legal frameworks, legal reforms and law enforcement.
Some businesspersons; including some politicians deliberately smuggled maize and mealie meal to the neighbouring countries both for profit motive and for economic sabotage to create artificial shortage of such commodities; and in the process, incite many Zambians to revolt against a legitimate and democratically elected government.
The current higgledy-piggledy, biased, unconstitutional and unprofessional way of presidential petition’s adjudication in the Constitutional Court and in the High Court proves that Zambia is increasing becoming a fertile ground for anarchy and bloodshed.
If God, in the Garden of Eden or thereafter, didn’t enforce his laws by punishing or promising to penalise those who breached or who will break them, the strong, the rich and the ‘Mafias’ would have been on rampage taking advantage of the defenseless. Immorality and criminality would have been the norm. Is this what we want in a Christian Nation?
From such sad developments in our country, one can conclude that Zambia needs much to be desired as far as law-making, legal reforms, law enforcement and acceptable personal and professional conduct are concerned.
Therefore, to address such socio-cultural, economic, political and legal challenges in our society, we need enough, appropriate and clear laws which are enforced on time and fairly accordingly to rule of law. Those suspected of abusing their public offices should face appropriate laws and relevant disciplinary measures.
Henceforth, while President Lungu is promoting love, unity and peace among all Zambians through our motto of ‘One Zambia; One Nation’, rule of law, appropriate and adequate laws, legal reforms and effective and fair law enforcement shouldn’t be subordinated to such; but should go hand-in-hand to maintain peace and stability in our society.
Without effective and fair law enforcement, the defenseless, economically vulnerable, women and children would suffer from many miseries. The physically and visually challenged can also be miserable in a Christian nation.
This is why the Patriotic Front (PF) government should be extremely careful with the way some citizens, some politicians and some officers in public and private sector organisations conduct themselves for or against public interest.
To achieve this, not only should there be increased and improved checks and balances among the three arms of government (Executive, Judiciary and Legislature) but there should also be more checks and balances among public and private sector organizations and among individual Zambians for peace and stability to prevail before and after 2021 polls.
Peace and stability is a product of rule of law which also springs from adequate and relevant laws, appropriate legal reforms and timely and fair law enforcement process in a society.
Legislating relevant laws, reforming some laws and improving both on our homeland intelligence and on our law enforcement systems is the only way Zambia can prevent the worst anarchy and bloodshed from happening before, during and after 2021 general elections.
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