By McDonald Chipenzi
What happened in Choma where United Party for National Development (UPND) cadres, harassed and attacked the Choma Debonaires branch, belonging to PF MCC Kebby Mbewe, for not displaying President HH’s portait was unfortunate, barbaric and a display of lawlessness.
There is no law that requires that businesses and offices must display such as it is a mere practice and not a legal requirement.
Just to remind Zambians that this is not the first time that overzealous cadres have misbehaved and misconducted themselves in this manner just to attract political attention.
On Monday 5 January 2018, then Kitwe District Commissioner, Binwell Mpundu while inspecting business houses in Kitwe, expressed disappointment that some prominent institutions were using the 2015 Presidential portrait which has been done away with.
Mpundu, ignorantly said it was an offence for any institution not to display the new presidential portrait which Cabinet Office issued to the public over a year ago further warning them by issuing a 21-day ultimatum to business to adhere to his directives failure to which government would act to enforce the non existing law.
Clearly, Mpundu acted ignorantly because perusing through several pieces of legislation including the Constitution, the Penal Code, Public Order Act and the Local Government Act, there is no section contained on presidential portrait display to that effect.
On Friday 24 June 2011, Given Lubinda then opposition PF member of parliament for Kabwata raised this issue with the Vice President and Minister of Justice, late George Kunda in the National Assembly.
Lubinda wanted to know whether or not (a) under what law the portrait of the Head of State and Government was displayed in public places; (b) if no law existed, when the practice of displaying the portrait had started and what the rationale was; and (c) whether there were any penalties for failure to display the portrait.
In response, Todd Chilembo, then Deputy Minister of Justice responded that, there was no law requiring the portrait of the Head of State and Government to be displayed in public places.
It is a practice and the practice of displaying the portrait of the Head of State and Government in public places was inherited from the British and is encouraged as a means through which the public is made aware of who the Head of State is and who constitutes Government explaining that this practice is particularly helpful in settings where the general public may have no access to this kind of information via television, newspapers, and radio.
Chilembo further guided that there could be *no penalties for failure to display the portrait of the Head of State as there was no law requiring the displaying of the portrait.*
Since this question was raised in parliament, there has been no law enacted to criminalize the no display of a Presidential portrait in public, business and govt places.
So the incident in Choma was clearly more of a political one than legal and therefore, the cadres just used the presidential portrait issue to reach at Kebby Mbewe, the PF MCC whose conduct before, during, and after the election could have been injurious to them.
Now that barbaric conduct by cadres destroying private properties to reach at a political opponent and a place that benefited many regardless of their party affiliations is evil and must be condemned and culprits brought to book.
Civil ways of reaching at each other as politicians can be explored than the destruction of property in the name of party vigilance.