1 February 2013

Zambia: Shifting Goal Posts - Kabimba Denies Opposing POA

Justice minister Wynter Kabimba says the Patriotic Front has never opposed the Public Order Act even when it was in the opposition.

Addressing a media briefing this morning, Kabimba claimed at no point did the PF oppose the colonial law which restricts rights to assembly and association and therefore ranks among the enemies of democracy.

He claimed that the only thing the PF did was to challenge some provisions of the Public Order Act which civil society, the church and ordinary Zambians are condemning as an oppressive piece of legislation.

"We have heard these allegations about the Public Order Act, that we in the PF condemned it when we were in the opposition. This assertions is not true. That is a misrepretation of what we said. What we condemned was the enforcement of some provisions of the Public Order Act of itself," he claimed.

President Michael Sata, a fierce critic of the Public Order Act when in opposition, recently said he did not know that it was a good law, prompting wide condemnation from the opposition, the church, civil society and ordinary Zambians.

The PF has used the Public Order Act to block public meetings and have currently surrendered the two major opposition party leaders Dr Nevers Mumba and Hakainde Hichilema to court for unlawful assembly based on provisions of the Public Order Act which is the first time in the history of Zambia's democracy.

Meanwhile, Kabimba says political parties should have themselves to blame for the growing number of by-elections in the country.

The PF secretary general says the PF should not be blamed for the failure by some opposition political parties to put their parties in order.

He says insinuations that the PF is buying opposition Members of Parliament in order to lure them to cross the floor in parliament are incorrect.

Kabimba claims that opposition MPs are defecting to the PF because they have seen a new kind of leadership in the PF which they do not see in their respective political parties.

He says lack of freedom of expression and intimidation by party leaders against individual members who hold divergent views are some of the reasons why their members decide to join the ruling PF.

Kabimba has assured Zambians that the constitution making process shall be people driven without any form of interference by the Executive arm of government or any outside forces.

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