And the NDF says it will still not be mandatory to sing the national anthem at any religious gathering and no punitive sanctions will apply on those who choose not to sing.
Addressing the media in Lusaka yesterday, Forum spokesperson Isaac Mwanza explained that the Forum adopted resolutions to amend Article 60 of the Constitution to be relegating some of its provisions to subsidiary legislation.
He added that the forum also agreed by deletion the clause in the political parties Bill that provided for public financing of political parties with seats in parliament.
Mwanza said that the amendments necessitated the withdrawal of the Bill from being considered by the Forum to give room for redrafting by the Ministry of Justice so that it could reflect the position that might come into being if Parliament decided to enact the Constitution.
And Mwanza has reiterated the Forum’s unwavering commitment to refining the constitution and adopting the final draft bills that must reflect the nation’s quest to improve governance, provide effective checks and balances “but also ensure that Zambia remains an example of a country that promotes democratic ideals, respect for peoples liberties and rights, but in an orderly State”.
He also highlighted what the National Dialogue Forum has deliberated on from last week.
“On Thursday, 9th May, 2019 and Friday, 10th May 2019, the NDF finalized its examination of the Public Order Bill 2019, by provisionally confirming 80 of the proposed amendments to the Bill, and amended – by way of deletions or additions or varying – the other proposed provisions in the Bill. In examining the work on the Public Order Bills, the Forum members are constantly keeping in mind the need for coming up with a Bill that must promote the primary object of the Bill to guarantee the enjoyment of the constitutional freedom of assembly, expression and conscience in the maintenance of public order, health and safety of the Zambian people as a whole,” Mwanza said.
“…the Forum has – for example – amended provisions that only exempted indoor meetings of trade unions from falling within the ambit of the Act by extending the provision to indoor meetings of all lawfully registered unions which include students unions. The indoor meetings of organs of political parties and civil society organizations are also exempted from provisions of the Bills,” Mwanza said.
“We also confirmed the Public Order Act shall not apply to religious gatherings and traditional events held at their places of worship much as they do not apply to funeral processions. Allow me at this point to allay fears by emphasizing that this exemption effectively implies, as an example, once this law is passed by Parliament, it will still not be mandatory to sing the national anthem at any religious gathering, and the punitive sanctions for those exempted groups who decide not to sing the national anthem shall not apply.”
The NDF spokesman further said the forum also adopted resolution to remove provisions requiring conveners of a meeting to furnish the police with a list of persons who may need to speak at a public meeting.
“…the requirement for disclosure of issues to be discussed at public meeting…[We have] asked the drafters to recast provisions that give power to police officers to prohibit a public meeting from going ahead as that would be tantamount to asking people to obtaining permission rather than notifying the police of the meeting to be convened,” said Mwanza. “As the members of the public may see, the Forum has taken its work seriously to ensure that, over half a century after our Independence, Zambians must repeal the colonial order Act by having an Act that will contribute to our people’s enjoyment of their rights and will contribute towards the growth of our democratic dispensation. Even as we try and finalize this process, the Forum members have kept in their minds a duty to propose laws that will not infringe on the freedoms and rights protected by our constitution.”