MEMBERS of Parliament yesterday rejected a motion to have the Public Order Act (POA) amended by aligning it to the Bill of Rights.
UPND Choma Central Member of Parliament Cornelius Mweetwa moved the motion by urging the Government to amend the Public Order Act.
But Home Affairs Minister Davis Mwila rejected the motion to amend the POA because Government through his ministry and the Ministry of Justice had already started the process as directed by President Edgar Lungu. After members on the right rejected the motion while those on the left were in agreement, Speaker of the National Assembly Patrick Matibini guided that the motion be subjected to voting.
And when it came up for voting 72 members of Parliament voted against the motion while 25 voted in favour of the motion representing 74.23 percent and 25.77 percent respectively.
Earlier, the motion was subjected to debate with MMD’s Geoffrey Lungwangwa supporting amendments to the POA to align it to the Bill of Rights.
Prof Lungwangwa said the POA was designed by the colonial masters that were against the black people freely exercising their freedom of speech and assembly. And UPND Monze Central Member of Parliament Jack Mwiimbu said the POA was not bad but that the leadership which was administering it was the one which was bad.
Mr Mwiimbu said even if the Public Order Act was to be amended, it would be an exercise in futility because of the current leadership in charge of administering the Act.
Mr Mwiimbu said the Patriotic Front government had been using the POA selectively after citing the incident where suspected PF cadres allegedly harassed former Matero members of Parliament Miles Sampa at the Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe International Airport on the Copperbelt where he was scheduled to hold a press briefing. But contributing to the debate, Mr Mwila said he would not entertain the motion because the process had already be kick started after President Lungu directed his office and the Ministry of Justice to have it scrutinized by the general public.
Mr Mwila urged members of Parliament to instead consider making submissions to the Ministry of Justice which he was currently open to receiving submissions.
He also explained that the Public Order Act was essential for maintaining peace and harmony in the country.
And winding up debate, Mr Mweetwa complained that since 2011 when the PF come into power they had been rejecting progressive proposals in the House.