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Friday, July 3, 2020

Insults, Politics and Law: Repeal Insult laws!

Columns Insults, Politics and Law: Repeal Insult laws!

Dickson Jere
Dickson Jere

By Dickson Jere

What a coincidence!

I was just finalizing my thesis on seditious laws in Zambia, which also touched on the archaic law of defamation of the President. Then bang! A student has been arrested for defaming the President. In my thesis, I endeavored to trace the historical background of these laws that found themselves in our Penal Code. For every intent and purposes, these “insult” laws have become moribund worldwide and represents the old-school of thought – that a King cannot err! That the crown is infallible!

The long and short of it is that even countries that gave birth to these laws like Britain and Australia, have now completely abandoned them as they are no longer justifiable in a democratic state and at most against the principles of human rights. In my literature review, I tracked the genesis of these laws to the Statute of Westminster of 1275 and the Star Chamber cases of 1606 involving De Libellis Famosis in the U.K. The reasoning was that the monarchy was divine and therefore cannot be subjected to public ridicule. This is why it is still a criminal offense in Zambia to insult the Queen! Did you know that?

But then, the police needs to reflect on this.

I do not think the President would tolerate the arrest of a citizen for having called him names. He has been scandalized in worse terms before and never ever resorted to taking legal action even in civil jurisdiction. That has been his strength all along. In any case, what would one achieve by such act? Disgruntled people and rogues will always insult. Just check on how US President Donald Trump get insulted on his own tweeter. He has been caricatured as a pig and called unprintable stuff. It comes with the territory!

This reminds me of my time in State House. The police had arrested and successfully prosecuted a Ndola man, Darius Mukuka, who had insulted President Rupiah Banda. All this happened without our knowledge. And so when the President read in the newspaper that a man was jailed for having insulted him in a bar, he was furious!

“Why should someone be sent to jail for insulting me? If he can’t insult me, who else will he insult?” the President asked before he ordered the immediate release from jail. And a directive was given to the police that people should never be arrested for such. With hindsight, we should have gone further and amended the law.

In brief, the police, most times, are just overzealous.

These laws, which we call “insult laws” have now fallen into disuse worldwide. And so no need to give Zambia a bad name on such straight-forward issues. If someone has been defamed, best available option is to sue in a civil case! You cannot imprison thoughts. Thoughts are free! Wonder why BBC is running the student story on Zambia continuously?

By the way, I do not think President Edgar Lungu supports such. I say so because when I served as MISA-Zambia President, Edgar Chagwa Lungu, Esquire, who was then rejoicing under the name and style of Andrea Masiye and Company, was among the lawyers that we retained to fight the abuse of “insult laws” in Zambia. And he was passionate about it. And I believe he still shares that passion. Seditious and criminal libel laws like defamation of the President are things of the past worldwide. And in my thesis, I recommend for the thorough repeal of these laws!

It is global after all!

And so parliament must take heed.

Repeal insult laws!

[Read 319 times, 2 reads today]

39 COMMENTS

  1. Wise man he say “If you listen to everything people say, you will hear your maid or man servant insulting you”.

    Even Jesus was vilified in unspeakable language that would make professional / hard core / unrepentant criminals shudder, but he knew he was in the “territory”.

    Our declared national Christianity is therefore FAKE and we should stop using that holy name if we can not suffer the abuses He suffered.

    • Dickson Jere is handsome when you look at him from a certain angle. Can someone explain his article? Insele ni nsele!

    • ..”With hindsight, we should have gone further and amended the law.”….typical of people with no vision. The reason Jere and his boss never amended the law is because it saved them right at that time. Look at the Public Order Act, the Electoral Act and many other pieces of restrictive and oppressive laws, why are they not being amended now?

    • I hate that chkala Jere, but he write some interesting graffiti.
      So he saying it is OK to say “fuuck PF, fuuck state hse, fuuck Amos’ boss”?

    • It is not so global Dickson Jere. I only hope you had a chance during your literature review to look at countries like Swaziland and Botswana where insulting King Mswati or President Khama is considered an affront on the person of the king or a member of the royal family.

    • Dickson Jere is handsome when you look at him from a certain angle. Can someone explain his article?

    • @Nostradamus Jere just wants to clean up Banda’s image. How come we never heard of such stories when Banda and Jere were in State House? That’s when Banda could have scored points on his being a noble leader. When he is no longer there Jere pulls a public relations stunt. For what purpose? Takana kunamidwa

  2. Mr Jere with all fairness the Lungu you knew then who was poor and was living my stealing many from clients is no longer the same today….. then he could not even afford nomination fees for being a presidential candidate… an a decent suit.

    He his a changed man who thinks he knows it all…

  3. We just hope dictator Chagwa Chakolwa Kamwendo Kadansa Lungu has ready the article.there is sense in what this guy is saying…lol

  4. Mr. Jere to say that the police are being overzealous is somehow unfair. Should they be selective as which law they will enforce and which they wont. Any Law that we think is not for the benefit of the people must be referred to our Parliament for a repeal.

    • But Amos has just confirmed that state house did not order the arrest. Who then is the complainant?

  5. My young brother Dickson Jere let that also be done in the village so that you see the reaction of the elders! The person insulting will either be sent out of the village or just bewitch that fellow insulting by withdrawing his/her voice through magic so that he can never insult again. Let us NOT copy anything that the whites are doing! If walking naked is fashion for the Whites even us Africans should follow suit, what a joke! My young brother, we can copy things that are progressive NOT such silly things that will erode our rich African morrows.

  6. The Bemba’s say kumbali kutukwe imfumu,kabili abati icitonga kumbali cilaikopola,let the man go you people

  7. Dickson,much as you might abhor the law against insults,but our constitution is made in such a way that all institutions are built around the president.We have given the president more powers such that we have made him a ”god”As long as the constitution is designed to please an individual,nothing good will come out of it.Ours is a constitution that is defined around the presidency.The president cannot be criticized minus attracting the wrath from security wings.The powers of the president should be devolved to accommodate the citizenry.No wonder,most presidents brag that they carry a big stick because of the powers that we have given them.

  8. But just imagine you’re driving out of your yard and someone comes and starts calling chikalour, muslinyoko, walala na noko etc. What would you do.

  9. Mr Iroko a Nigerian citizen was arrested in 2016 for naming his dog Muhammadu Buhari. Today the court has dismissed the case for lack of proof by the prosecution that he actually meant the Nigeria president.

  10. Yes repeal the “insult law”, but they are applicable in the form that they are in and remain enforceable even if deemed arcaic. Rule of thumb, stay on the right side of the law, even as you advocate for REPEAL.

  11. Am shocking this man is advocating to allow people to insult! Insults are offensive and hurt people. In the name of democracy, we cannot allow wrong things. Probably sir, since they say ‘charity begins at home’, make it free for your kids to insult you, your wife, go further, let your garden boy insult your wive apo bafwalile! Let us see how it goes!

    • “….. If someone has been defamed, best available option is to sue in a civil case! You cannot imprison thoughts. Thoughts are free! Wonder why BBC is running the student story on Zambia continuously?..”
      quote from Mr. Jere” article.

  12. LT what are you moderating because Zakeyo does not insult but contributes facts and intelligent issues…

    • Mr Dickson Jere you tolerated violence perpetrated by Mr William Banda when he was in MMD and you did this by looking the other side just because you were working with the government then which supported that violence… The best you can do is to keep quiet… ‘Let the sleeping dogs lie’ Whom do you want to cheat that you were an angel… You just want to be noticed and for wrong reasons…

    • You mean you just go free insulting your whole village full of uncles and aunts at will and call that democracy?

  13. Mr Jere’s point is missed by many…As somebody who has worked in Zambia on several occasions I was always surprised, for example how the now defunct Post newspaper could libel a person and nothing ever seemed to happen, yet if you ‘defame’ the President the police spring into action. What Zambia needs is a decent set of libel laws that apply to all citizens, equally and fairly, from the President down to the lowliest person. It does not seem right that in a democracy there are special laws set aside for the sole use of the President, it should be justice for all Zambians, not just one.

  14. I think Dickson jere Kenmore intelligent and articulate the 3/4ers of PF combined.

    Nowounder RB done well, he had good advisories as compared to these PF who only think of attcking and stoning people

  15. I think Dickson jere is more intelligent and articulate then half of PF combined.

    Nowounder RB done well, he had good advisories as compared to these PF who only think of hacking and maiming people

  16. Actually the police are just doing their job – enforcing laws. I believe calling people demeaning names is undemocratic. Democracy is about respecting other people’s views and personality. It is not about insulting everyone when intoxicated with Chibuku and chamba, and go away with it. I don’t think the law is oppressive to the Zambians: people have the right to expreess their feelings in arguments as persuasions, not insults.

    • Not just the president, I remember insulting a guy who supplied me a faulty free-to-air decoder by sms 8 years ago…I spent 4 hrs in a police cell. If the guy didn’t calm down and withdraw the case, I would have ended up in a court; The officer in charge vividly showed me the law applicable!! This is not western culture, our African culture is based on mutual respect. And now in Zambia Christianity is embedded in our Constitution, does the Bible allow insults??? Constructive criticism is the medium of intelligent minds but insults are the medium of corrupt and empty minds!!
      YOU ARE SPOT ON, JOSEPH MVULA!!!

    • Why even resort to insults and not engage in meaningful debate as normal people are expected of.

  17. Baba Jere, ulemu is not something we can learn from books. It has been put on our hearts by the Almighty. Over time we have perfected it to an art. Most Zambian tribes have put a high premium on ulemu. This is something we should cherish. Let’s not get our life twisted just because in country X they insult with impunity and you think it’s cool. Who are you trying to impress? When we have lawyers like you who want to upgrade insults to a habit, then we are in maningi trouble. Mr. Jere mwekulila kuni? Ndiye ivi mwemphunzira ku Matero? Yai mwe werako tyala. Since you are ngoni I am sure you get everything I am saying. In Chewa land we had nyau to instill some culture in our boys. One of it was respect for the elders. That’s eastern province for you. Now you want laws repealed so that people…

  18. “…the president asked before he ordered the immediate release from jail. And a directive was given to the police that people should never be arrested for such”
    Now it is confirmed from the horse’s mouth that the president orders the police to release and prosecute people. And he tells police how to arrest. Zedian politics!

  19. Freedom of speech does not mean freedom to hurt others through insults. The bible talks about respect for those in authority as they are put there by God. To be honest insulting anybody including a Child is wrong. Baba Jere apa Mwabuda.

    • The bible is not the law. People can get hurt by plenty of things but if you choose to be a politician you must first check whether you have a thick enough skin. If you dont want to be insulted dont become a politician full stop

  20. Couldn’t comment on this issue there and then wondering what words to use to describe those who support freedom to insult innocent people. Since the law has not been repealed yet, its up to the victim of the insults to use the law as it stands or ignore it completely like I did when a pirate taxi driver insulted me in front of my sons for driving at a speed he considered slow for himself. Eventually if the law shall be changed, this country shall better be known as a country of insults rather than a peaceful country as is currently known.

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