Saturday, July 20, 2024

Zambian Constitution – A meaningless document to millions but useful to politicians


By Isaac Mwanza

A video circulating on social media platforms in which some youths were being tortured, subjected to degrading and inhuman treatment by some military personnel for pouring some expletives against President Hakainde Hichilema for alleged failure to honour some promises is just a tip of an iceberg of what has become common treatment of suspects who are poor and ordinary in Zambia.

Article 15 of the Constitution of Zambia states:

“No person shall be subjected to torture, or to inhuman or degrading punishment or other like treatment.”

Beyond these written words must be a realisation that our country’s Constitution is a useless and meaningless document to millions of poor, ordinary Zambians but a treasure to elites and politicians in their quest to gain, use or manage political power.

For the record, I have don’t support anyone who insult the Republican President, regardless of whether I agree or disagree with such a President. It may be okay, legal or cultural in America to find Americans who vent their anger and insults on the American President but Zambia is not America.

Zambia, like all other African countries, has an African culture that emphasises respect for elderly persons, especially those who provide leadership in our homes, church or country as a whole. President Hichilema deserves the same respect we all can give to our father, regardless of whether we annoyed with the failures or even lies of our biological to deliver his promises.

But the issue here is simple and require us to reflect on the meaning of our constitution. The Zambian Constitution is only good for our courts and academic elitist debates and giving powerful elements some advantages in our society. The Zambian Constitution is not about the interests of ordinary and poor Zambians.

Unfortunately, our courts have also become a subtle accomplice in the violation of the rights of those who are seemingly weak, poor or ordinary in our society. The courts have failed to personally hold and punish officials who violate our people’s protected human rights, especially when these violations are done against ordinary and poor Zambians.

Compensation for human rights violations have only been possible when the same are done to politicians and their allies who can sue and walk away with thousands and millions of taxpayers money for wrongful detention, torture, degrading or inhuman treatment. What is a Constitution for when law enforcers and not the military can violate the rights of others, including children, with impunity?

But that is the kind of constitution Zambia has today – useless and meaningless document to millions but a useful document the country’s political power. The Constitution is good and enforceable when the powerful and affluent class is affected and but it doesn’t matter when it is the poor about who are subjected to torture, inhuman and degrading treatment by our law enforcement agencies. This kind of treatment ends with valueless media statements from some toothless Human Rights Commission

It is indeed a curse to be born in a Komboni or village in this country.

Worse still, our country is now witnessing a new wave in which people are politically reported to police posts in far-flung, less developed areas, arrests are done in one districts, suspects transported and abandoned in other rural districts, away from their families or where they can get help. When all this is happening, the Executive and the Judiciary go to bed as accomplices in their failure to frown and stop this practice.

The once vocal international community, through their Embassies, have also become conspicuously mute or probably don’t want to be caught in a crossfire which will stop their countries from exploiting our natural resources under the new management. Is this an endorsement that all is okay or they will begin to speak out only when their interests begin to be threatened?

I am deeply troubled by this video of torture and I repeat; the Zambian Constitution is a useless document to millions of poor Zambians. Beyond that document being useful to politicians in the management of political power, it does not serve or protect the interests of ordinary Zambians whose rights keep being violated.

In Zambia, you get promoted for violating the human rights of ordinary citizens especially if it done to please the powers-that-be.


  1. It’s very unfortunate that we’re in this situation as a nation. These are not the 1st youths to insult a sitting Head of State. There are quite a number that were arrested for insulting ECL. It all begun with politicians using uncivilized language against each other and it’s on this platform that we advised them to moderate their language. Unfortunately we have many who think that to be an effective politician you must use strong language. Even in Parliament no session ends without a member or 2 being asked to withdraw certain words or terms. Didn’t I hear those soldiers insult the youths? This is what we have become as a nation. We have planted a bad seed and we’ll reap the fruits.

  2. Hahaha and the tribal monkeys will say we voted for change. Things were not this bad under us. Hh is a sweet talker who lied to you and yet he can’t even build a proper toilet for his in-laws in the village. Hh is just a chi Carla. A cows moonyellow. Go tell him I said so and let him send his security I will slap the ugliness out of them

  3. When you send your child to insult adults just expect him to insult you one day. Each time a person who slandered his predecessor was arrested the current president would trek to the police station to give solidarity to them. We should not insult the president whether we voted for him or not…we must respect him. This a lesson to the current opposition leaders…. don’t support misbehavior because it will boomrang at you one day.

  4. am deeply troubled by this video of torture and I repeat; the THE HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION IS A TOOTHLESS BULL DOG

  5. Our traditions & cultural values have degenerated because we wrongly believe democracy equals disrespect for others. Etiquette and social skills as per our culture are seemingly obsolete; now people take pride in dishing out insults at first opportunity. We fail to understand that criticism embellished with abusive language does not add value to the point we want to make – it just antagonizes & prevents sensible & amicable discourse. Our parenting skills are short & failing our young people. Notwithstanding, torture is extreme & not a solution, as it doesn’t teach behaviour; and it’s impossible to manage by “torture”, what millions of people might utter. Rather, we need to instil “our” values in young people – & it starts at home and in schools.

  6. Unfortunately, our courts have also become a subtle accomplice in the violation of the rights of those who are seemingly weak, poor or ordinary in our society.
    How true! A driver is spending a year in jail for saying HH is not a Christian. The crazy magistrate who imprisoned him seems to have never read anything about fundamental rights. Meanwhile Fred Mmembe called HH a puppet. A puppet with strings mwebantu. Leading to European puppet players. HH’s bodyguard a.k.a. police investigator general Kajoba pretended not to hear this. Justice in the banana Republic of Zambia, a self proclaimed democracy is so selectively applied. And the ruling party sings songs that we have freedom of speech.

  7. Naimweeee………..abuse by police and other law enforcement is unfortunate but happens in every country……………

    Even in countries with the oldest and most refined constitutions……….

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