PF Deputy Parliamentary Chief Whip Tutwa Ngulube says US-based Zambian lawyer Professor Muna Ndulo has lost touch with Zambian laws, judging by his “flawed” understanding of the Public Order Bill of 2019.
In an academic paper titled “The Public Order Bill, 2019, and the Right to Assembly in a Democratic State”, Prof Ndulo argued that the Public Order Bill, which was crafted alongside Bill 10, was one which sought to constitutionalise dictatorship.
But Ngulube accused Prof Ndulo of “bluntly telling lies” about the controversial Bill.
“Professor Ndulo is out of touch with Zambian laws and I think his comments and several utterances on various issues surrounding this country’s laws has actually demonstrated that Professor Ndulo has lost touch with reality! Professor Muna Ndulo has lost touch with the reality on the ground here, his interpretation of some of the laws in the country has actually confirmed that he has lost touch with what is actually obtaining here in Zambia,” Ngulube said.
“I think he is basing most of his comments on social media as if he is not an academician. Professor Ndulo has been misleading Zambians on a lot of factors, including Bill Number 10. If you look at his own articles on constitutionalism and what he deems to be a good constitution, Professor Ndulo has contradicted what he is teaching people; he is actually bluntly telling lies!”
He argued that the Public Order Bill of 2019 was actually attempting to reduce the powers of the police in the dispensation of the public order, contrary to Prof Ndulo’s remarks.
“If you look at the Public Order Bill of 2019 right now, the Public Order Bill of 2019 is creating an opportunity for feedback. In the Public Order Bill we have right now, there is no provision for the police to give an alternative day [to hold a meeting]. When you give a notification that you want to hold a meeting and the police decide to refuse in the current Public Order Act, the police have no opportunity to choose a second date and also to give you an opportunity to appeal against the decision. In the 2019 Public Order Bill, we are trying to make sure that the police don’t become the judges in their courts. In the current Public Order Act, the police are the final authority when the say, ‘no’ it’s is no!” Ngulube, who is also Kabwe Central PF member of parliament, argued.
“In the 2019 Bill, we are trying to remove most of those powers from the police and share them with society. For example, if a policeman decides that he will not allow Tutwa Ngulube to hold a procession, yet he will allow another person to hold a similar procession in the same vein, the Public Order Bill gives an opportunity to appeal to the Minister [of Home Affairs], and the minister can overrule the police officer and within 14 days, the matter must be concluded.”
He insisted that the 2019 Bill would not lead Zambia into dictatorship as the President and the Executive would not be involved in the execution of public order.
“In the 2019 Public Order Bill, we are making sure that we make a Bill not only for the PF, not only for UPND, not only for those in politics, but even for those in the future generation. So, if Prof Ndulo is saying the Public Order Bill is seeking to create a dictatorship, what does he mean? The President, the Executive, are not involved in the execution of the Public Order Bill. What we have now is a situation where the police have the absolute power; they can act arbitrarily; they can deny you constitutional rights of freedom of assembly and association. But in the current Bill, we are simply saying, ‘look, the rights for citizens to assemble should not be subject to police supervision’. Police should only come in for public safety and all sorts of things,” Ngulube said.
“So, I urge him to read the Bill again and he must get back to reality because so far, the comments being attributed to him, he is slowly losing touch and very soon, he might end up being irrelevant. That is why when we have a meeting on Bill Number 10, all he was looking at was the negatives; he can’t even look at the positives that the government is doing. So, his ability to critically analyze issues has been hampered by his perceived political inclinations because as an academician of such high calibre, Prof Ndulo should offer what we call a critique; he should be able to show the pros and the cons; he should be able to show what has gone wrong; he should be able to show what the advantages are and he should be able to see positives and negatives. All Prof Ndulo sees in what PF is doing are negatives and negatives!”
He urged Prof Ndulo to stop being politically inclined when dealing with important constitutional matters.
“Please, we want to urge him, please, Professor, come back to reality. It is pointless to be called ‘Professor’ when you are failing what other professors are doing. It is important that when people are dealing with important matters, they run away from political inclinations so that we become objective and you see, as a Professor, he commands a lot of respect among his learners and among us members of society. So, he must make informed and well-researched statements before he misleads the public,” said Ngulube.
“For now, we are simply saying, let him read the Public Order Bill again and he will notice that it is anchored on part three, which actually enforces the Bill of Rights. The current Public Order Act does not have any room for feedback; it does not have any room for people to even challenge the police. But in the 2019 Bill, we are giving an opportunity for people to rise against the police based on the judgments we were referring to.”