…Zambia is not in a state of emergency; all Government actions continue to be subject to Constitutional principles and strict judicial oversight…
Lusaka, (Tuesday 11 July 2017) – Today, the National Assembly of Zambia, the country’s unicameral legislative body, approved the President’s promulgation of enhanced measures to enable security services’ capability to curb the rising cases of politically-motivated fires and vandalism of vital electricity supply lines.
The measures, to be enforced through special regulations under the Preservation of Public Security Act, were deemed necessary to restore public order and to prevent a state of public emergency from arising.
On Wednesday, 6th July 2017, His Excellency Mr. Edgar Chagwa Lungu, President of the Republic of Zambia and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, sought recourse to the Preservation of the Public Security Act by invoking Article 31 of the Zambian Constitution which governs threats to public security (not to be confused with Article 30 governing a state of emergency). He stated: “the recourse to this Act is deemed necessary to allow for a speedy and thorough investigation of the fires and their causes, while also preventing further incidents of arson and to allow for the extension of police powers and the restriction of assembly, movement and information rights, amongst others, as necessary.”
The fire at Lusaka City Market that destroyed thousands of shops and stalls on Tuesday last week was the latest in a series of fires nationwide, which appear to have been caused by arson.
The Government of Zambia recognizes that the country’s security is an absolute priority for economic development and reassures the international investor community that it is business as usual in the country. Business leaders who have met the President since the invocation of Article 31 have expressed confidence in government’s measured response in dealing with the rampant cases of sabotage that has beset the country post 2016 elections.
However, the frequency, magnitude and targeted nature of recent fires, have undermined the nation’s tranquillity and destroyed people’s livelihoods. This is the reason special security measures have had to be invoked.
The application of the Preservation of Public Security Act approved by Parliament today allows strong and clear action to be taken to protect public safety. It is designed to maintain Law and Order and all actions continue to be subject to Constitutional principles and strict judicial oversight. These measures are deemed necessary to safeguard the nation’s development trajectory and re-focus national efforts on building a fairer and stronger society, as articulated in the 7th National Development Plan launched last month.
The invocation of Article 31 is expected to apply for three months, following which the Government will reassess whether the threat to public security has been addressed.
All actions under the prescribed regulations will be implemented in a measured manner and targeted at individuals with criminal motives. No civil liberties have been, or will be suspended; there is no curfew; there are no lock-downs anywhere in the country; the public and private school curricular remain as normal, and so are other public undertakings. The country’s Constitutional order is intact supporting the full and unrestrained functioning of the three arms of government as enshrined in the Principles of Separation of Powers between and among the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary. All laws are in force normally.
As is stands, law, order and business as usual prevail in Zambia. President Lungu has reassured banks, business owners and financial partners, while the country remains committed to providing an enabling environment for investors.
AMOS CHANDA SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT (PRESS AND PUBLIC RELATIONS) STATE HOUSE
Timeline: The series of fires and acts of sabotage, many of which remain under investigation but are reasonably believed to have been caused by arson include:
- August 2016: Tambalala Market, Bauleni, Lusaka, gutted.
- April 2017: Mongu Local Court, Mongu, Western Province gutted.
- April 2017: Luburma Market, Luburma, Lusaka gutted.
- April 2017: Intercity Bus Terminus, Lusaka, attempt of arson, person apprehended.
- April 2017: Lusaka Central Correctional Facility, persons apprehended on reasonable suspicion of attempted arson.
- May 2017: Kafue District Education Board Offices, Kafue, Lusaka District, gutted with reasonable grounds and evidence for suspecting arson.
- June 2017: ZESCO electricity supply lines carrying over 200 megawatts of power, near Ndola, Copperbelt Province sabotaged and set on fire, with strong grounds for suspecting arson.
- More than 10,000 households and the Levy Mwanawasa Stadium were left without power.
- The sabotage disrupted the Zambia International Trade Fair (ZITF) that was underway in Ndola, which hosts 459 local and 106 foreign exhibitors to promote trade and investment in Zambia.
- June 2017: ZESCO electricity pylons, Kafue West-Lusaka West Line, destroyed by fire.
- ZESCO spent USD 1.1 million to repair the damaged pylons
- July 2017: Lusaka City Market, Lusaka, set on fire.
- July 2017: Misisi Township Market, including ZESCO pylons, Misisi, Lusaka, set on fire.
- July 2017: A fire incident in Central Province.