DEPUTY Inspector General of police Solomon Jere has told the a Lusaka High Court that any attempt to amend the Public Order Act especially its central heart sections (5) (6) and (7) will risk Zambia witnessing high levels of anarchy which will in some cases result in deaths.
Dr Jere said the amendment of the provisions as wanted by the Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) would make it extremely difficult to run the country which was at the moment known to be a haven of peace.
This is in a matter in which LAZ has challenged the constitutionality of the Public Order Act in the Lusaka High Court.
LAZ has accused the police of being discriminatory against opposition political parties in allowing them to hold public meetings or gatherings.
The Association has stated that in its present form the Act infringes on Fundamental rights of assembly and association.The Association is seeking the quashing of sections of the Act which have criminalized meetings which are not consented to by the Police, in spite of the fact that the law does not require conveners of meetings to obtain a permit from the Police.
LAZ argues that the right to assemble and Associate was cardinal in any working democracy and any attempts to truncate it were an abrogation of the constitution.
The Association which is being represented among other lawyers Vincent Malambo feels that the restrictions recently imposed by Government in incidents where Police have unleashed violence was not conducive to democracy.
The matter is being heard by High Court Judge Evans Hamaundu.
But Dr Jere, who denied being discriminatory and told High Court Judge Evans Hamaundu yesterday that the police was not partisan as it dispensed its duties and responsibilities objectively.
He said he found it strange that LAZ had sought the intervention of the court to amend provisions of the Act because the police had in some cases supported the United Party for National Development (UPND) and other political parties into holding public gatherings.
He, however, said where reasons had prevailed, especially those bordering on the security of the nation, the police had not only denied the notifications to UPND but to other political parties including the ruling PF.
“Your honour there are instances where we have not supported notifications to hold public meetings by PF where reasons have prevailed even after they had already come into power,” he said.
Dr Jere who earlier explained to the court the procedure of notification said the role of the police was to maintain peace and order, the reason why it had not supported certain notifications in the case of UPND.
He said among the other things that the police considered in supporting a notification was the crime situation, political tension, security situation for the safety of the public and those concerned.
Dr Jere said the purpose of not supporting UPND notifications of holding public meetings in Kanyama, Chawama, Kabwata and demonstrations over the independence of the judiciary was to ensure that law and order was maintained.
He supported his arguments of not amending the provisions of the Act by citing incidences where the country had recorded anarchy such as the Mongu killings in 2010, Mazabuka riots in the same year and the Luapula protests against Satanism where he said members of the public went ahead without obtaining notifications from the police.