Advancing Transparent Public Order Act Reforms

… CSOs Dialogue with Zambian Government

By Francis Maingaila

Lusaka, Zambia24 (21-03-2024) – Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) advocating for reforms to the Public Order Act convened with Hon. Jack Mwimbu, the Minister of Home Affairs and Internal Security, to address concerns and present a joint position paper on the Public Gatherings Bill.

Patrick Kaumba, Executive Director of GEARS Initiative Zambia who read the statement for and on behalf of CSOs highlighted the need for transparency in the reform process and urged the government to provide regular updates to stakeholders.

Kaumba also expressed frustration with the sluggish legislative progress since the submission of the Public Gathering Bill in January 2023.

He emphasized the importance of enacting a law that facilitates rather than over-regulates, ensuring citizens’ rights are upheld in accordance with international human rights conventions, and called for a Human Rights-Based Approach in law enforcement of the public order.

The Minister pledged to expedite the legislative process and commit to tabling the Bill in parliament in 2024.

He acknowledged CSOs’ constructive engagement and committed to reviewing their position paper for integration into the final Bill, signifying progress towards transparent Public Order Act reforms and a commitment to democratic principles and human rights in Zambia.

The meeting witnessed a diverse representation from various organizations, including GEARS Initiative Zambia, Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection (JCTR), MISA Zambia, Panos Institute for Southern Africa, Common Causes Zambia (CCZ), The Southern Africa Centre for Constructive Resolution of Disputes (SACCORD), Operation Young Vote (OYV), Foundation for Democratic Process (FODEP), Transparency International Zambia (TIZ), Action Aid Zambia (AAZ), Alliance for Community Action (ACA), Non-Governmental Organization Coordinating Council (NGOCC), Christian Churches Monitoring Group (CCMG), Bloggers of Zambia, Chapter One Foundation (COF), Zambia Council for Social Development (ZCSD), Zambia Federation of Disability Organizations (ZAFOD), Disability Rights Watch (DRW), Center for Young Leaders in Africa (CYLA) Zambia, Anti-Voter Apathy Project (AVAP), Zambia Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), Zambia National Women’s Lobby (ZNWL), and Zambia Center for Interparty Dialogue (ZCID).

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