The Witchcraft Act, Chapter 90 of the Laws of Zambia provides for penalties for the practice of witchcraft and related matters.
“Witchcraft” is defined under the above law as:
“…includes the throwing of bones, the USE OF CHARMS and any other means, process or device adopted in the practice of witchcraft or sorcery.” (Empasis added).
Section 5 of the same law provides that:
“Any person who-
(a) represents himself as able by supernatural means to cause fear, annoyance, or injury to another in mind, person or property; or
(b) pretends to exercise any kind of supernatural power, witchcraft, sorcery or enchantment calculated to cause such fear, annoyance or injury;
shall be liable to a fine of not more than one thousand five hundred penalty units or to imprisonment with or without hard labour for any term not exceeding two years.”
Lastly, section 11(2) of the Act states that:
“Any person who has in his possession any charm or poison or thing which he intends for use either by himself or by some other person for the purpose of any act punishable by this Act shall be liable upon conviction to a fine of not more than one hundred penalty units or to imprisonment with or without hard labour for any term not exceeding six months, or to both.”
Did the Senegalese under-20 National football team use charms? The evidence was shamesless open for the whole world to see!
The use of charms is within the definition of witchcraft as shown by the law’s definition above.
The Senegalese presented themselves or pretented to exercise witchcraft (by using charms) calculated to cause fear or annoyance to the Zambian team or their supporters.
The Zambian Supreme Court has observed that:
“…a belief in witchcraft, though unreasonable, is prevalent in our community.”
Thus, the action of using charms on a football pitch by the Senegalese had the potential of causing fear or annoyance to the Zambians even to the extent of disrupting the match. Such form of disorder arising from the belief or purported practice of witchcraft is what the Witchcraft Act seeks to prevent.
Is witchcraft protected by the Zambian Constitution as Chipenzi believes? No.
Article 19 (1)-(5) says:
“19. (1) Except with his own consent, a person shall not be hindered in the enjoyment of his freedom of conscience, and for the purposes of this Article the said freedom includes freedom of thought and religion, freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others, and both in public and in private, to manifest and propagate his religion or belief in worship, teaching, practice and observance.
(2) Except with his own consent, or, if he is a minor, the consent of his guardian, a person attending any place of education shall not be required to receive religious instruction or to take part in or attend any religious ceremony or observance if that instruction, ceremony or observance relates to a religion other than his own.
(3) A religious community or denomination shall not be prevented from providing religious instruction for persons of that community or denomination in the course of any education provided by that community or denomination or from establishing and maintaining instructions to provide social services for such persons.
(4) A person shall not be compelled to take any oath which is contrary to his religion or belief or to take any oath in a manner which is contrary to his religion or belief.
(5) Nothing contained in or done under the authority of any law shall be held to be inconsistent with or in contravention of this Article to the extent that it is shown that the law in question makes provision which is reasonably required-
(a) in the interests of defence, public safety, public order, public morality or public health; or
for the purpose of protecting the rights and freedoms of other persons, including the right to observe and practice any religion without the unsolicited intervention of members of any other religion;
and except so far as that provision or, the thing done under the authority thereof as the case may be, is shown not to be reasonably justifiable in a democratic society.”
The above Constitutional provisions guarantee freedom of conscience, religion or belief in general terms but remain alive to the fact that there are certain beliefs that may be injurious to others to the extent of even causing disorder or even death. It is to that extent that the practice or even belief in witchcraft is outlawed and the law so outlawing witchcraft is perfectly Constitutional.