SANFROSSA MANYINDA writes
THE Public Order Act (PoA) is still a matter of contention and source of conflict among stakeholders, says Non-governmental Gender Organisations’ Coordinating Council (NGOCC) board publicity secretary Annie Sampa.
Ms Sampa said the rights to freedom of expression and assembly had become highly politicized.
Ms Sampa was speaking during the appearance at the parliamentary committee on national security and foreign affairs on the amendment of the Public Order Bill 2019 on Thursday.
“Citizen’s freedoms of expression and assembly have continually been stifled through the application of the Public Order Act. The act in its current form gives rise, through its application and implementation,” she said.
She said the infringement of certain freedoms was an indictment to Zambia’s human rights record and brought into question the country’s democratic credentials and repute.
She said the PoA had become a negative attribute to the democratization process and a huge source of political disputes.
“The implementation of PoA has been a matter of contention and a source of conflict among stakeholders,” she said.
Ms Sampa said there had been arguments that the political party in power had over the years used it to stifle the freedoms of assembly, expression and association.
She said the PoA had negative consequences on the freedom of citizens from a democratic perspective.
“In a democracy, it is a given right for every citizen to be accorded an opportunity to assemble and express their views as long as it is within the parameters of the law and does not cause public disorder and threaten public peace.” she said.
Ms Sampa said as long as the application of the Public Order Act continued to be applied as an apparatus for oppressing divergent views, it will remain an ignite for political violence.