We the Greens join other organizations condemning in strongest terms the use of colonial laws before, during and after 2016 General Elections, to arrest and prosecute media and some opposition leaders. We strongly believe time has come to review and scrap colonial laws, in particular offences under Sections 57 and 60 of the Penal Code. Enacted in colonial era in 1938, and amended in 1955, 1964, 1965, 1969, and 1994, which provide for offences that constitute seditious practices and seditious intention that are not in sync with the democratic dispensation post-1990.
The harassment and intimidation suffered by the Muvi TV journalist in Kasama, Prime TV in Lusaka, Radio Mano in Kasama and Chipata TV in Chipata, are just but a few cases over the years, where several people, especially journalists, have been arrested and prosecuted for offences under Sections 57 and 60.
The profound intention by journalists and politicians victimized under these provisions has clearly always been-
i) to show that the Government have been misled or mistaken in any of their measures; or
ii) to point out errors or defects in the Government or Constitution as by law established or in legislation or in the administration of justice, with a view to the reformation of such errors or defects; or
iii) to persuade the people of Zambia to attempt to procure by lawful means the alteration of any matter in Zambia as by law established; nonetheless, the harassment through arrests and prosecution has continued.
Nonetheless, these people have always found themselves behind bars. Whilst condemnation of the harassment is a noble cause, moving forward, the Green Party believes there is need to repeal repugnant provisions of Sections 60, and consequently Section 57, which are usually abused. We believe that repeal of these provisions is a more sustainable and urgent measure.
In this regard, first, we the Greens demand the repeal of Section 60(1)(b) which prohibits bringing into hatred or contempt or to excite disaffection against the Government. This provision has been prone to abuse in the recent past. We strongly believe that if Dr. Kaunda abused this provision in 1990 and 1991, slogans such as “UNIP ni cholera”, “UNIP zwaa”, “Shemuneni” would have landed multitudes of citizens in prisons. Even slogans like “kuwayawaya fye” and “dununa something” can land someone in jail.
Second, we demand the repeal of Section 60(1)(d) which prohibits bringing into hatred or contempt or to excite disaffection against the administration of justice in Zambia. This provision is dictatorial and susceptible to abuse. Why should citizens be barred from complaining of bad court decisions? With a provision like this, even if a court decision is hopeless, any expression of resentment can land one in jail.
Third, we demand repeal of Section 60(1)(e) which prohibits raising discontent or disaffection among the people of Zambia. Like Section 60(1)(b) above, because this provision can land one in jail on petty things like slogans, we believe it is repugnant and should therefore be done away with.
Fourth, we demand the repeal of Section 60(1)(h) which prohibits advocating the desirability of any part of Zambia becoming an independent state or otherwise seceding from the Republic. If the colonial masters relied on this provision, advocating for the disband of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland would have landed Mama Julia Chikamoneka and several other women in prison. The British who crafted this law for us obviously do not have such a provision on their statutes. If they did, how come the Scots are not in prison for advocating pull-out of the United Kingdom following the Brexit referendum success? Similarly, in a democracy, the Barotse people should be free to advocate for the restoration of the Barotse Agreement or indeed champion session without the risk of landing in jail. We need political solutions to address political issues and not using prisons gag dissenting views.
Last, we demand for the repeal of Section 60(1)(j) which prohibits inciting resistance, either active or passive, or disobedience to any law or its administration. Since 2009, civil society organizations have incited resistance to the inacceptable and shocking NGO Act. If it continues being on our statute roll, one day, when an obnoxious Inspector General takes over office, civil society groups advocating for resistance and disobedience to the NGO Act, and other objectionable laws, will find themselves in prisons for championing noble causes.
We call upon media institutions to join us in the campaign to repeal these obnoxious laws which have resulted in imprisonment of your colleagues. Remember, today it is your friend, tomorrow it is you……
By Peter Sinkamba