Public discussion highlights free expression challenges in Zambia
MISA Zambia and the Law Association of Zambia together held a public discussion forum to highlight pertinent freedom of expression issues in Zambia on Thursday, June 18, 2015.
Panelists included lawyer and human rights activist John Sangwa and a respected journalist Kellys Kaunda.
LAZ President, George Chisanga, noted that the topic was particularly appropriate, as several incidents had recently taken place that impact on the enjoyment of the freedom of expression in Zambia. He referred to the arrest of the popular social commentator musician, Chama Fumba alias Pilato, who had produced a satirical song depicting President Lungu. Fumba was arrested and charged earlier on June.
Sangwa emphasized the need for balance between the enjoyment of freedom of expression and the rights of other individuals. He pointed out that the current Zambian constitution was a product of the post-independence era and thus had need for modernization. He noted that clauses such as the ‘Defamation of the President’ were unnecessary and should be eliminated as they accorded the President a shield from criticism even on decisions that affected the daily livelihood of citizens.
Some of the participants called for the revision of the penal code labeling it an archaic law giving excessive room for arbitrary application. MISA lawyer Marshal Muchende called for the enactment of the ATI law to allow for free, unimpeded flow of information.
The discussion was carried live on Lusaka’s Hot FM Radio.
The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) was founded in 1996. Its work focuses on promoting, and advocating for, the unhindered enjoyment of freedom of expression, access to information and a free, independent, diverse and pluralistic media.