By Elias Shilangwa LUSAKA Zambia (Xinhua)
-- Lawmakers from Zambia’s ruling
party voted on Wednesday to extend the declaration of the state
of threatened public emergency by President Edgar Lungu on July
which has now been extended for 90 days, is meant to give
security agencies more powers to curb the rising cases of
lawlessness in the southern African nation.
Zambia has witnessed
a spate of public property damaging cases, with the latest one
being the setting on fire of a famed market in Lusaka, the
This prompted Lungu
to declare a state of threatened public emergency by invoking
Article 31 of the constitution in order to give security wings
The measures will be
enforce through special regulations that authorities will deem
necessary to restore public order and to prevent the declaration
of a state of emergency.
In her statement,
Vice-President Inonge Wina said it was imperative that lawmakers
approved the proclamation in order to protect lives and property
against acts of sabotage.
As expected, the
lawmakers approved the proclamation through a unanimous vote,
with 85 ruling party lawmakers voting in favor of the motion
while lawmakers from the main opposition party boycotted the
from the main opposition party, which has 58 lawmakers in
parliament, are suspended for one month after they boycotted
Lungu’s address to parliament in March while their colleagues
decided to walk out when the motion was being moved.
There have also been
suspicions that the proclamation was meant to stifle critics.
According to the
law, the invoking of Article 31 means that the police and other
law enforcement agencies have been given extra powers to do
This has raised
fears in some quarters of society although the government has
tried to allay the fears.
“All actions under
the prescribed regulations will be implemented in a measured
manner and targeted at individuals with criminal motives. No
civil liberties have been, or will be suspended; there is no
curfew; there are no lock-downs anywhere in the country,” Amos
Chanda, presidential spokesperson, said in a statement released
after lawmakers supported the proclamation.
According to him,
the frequency, magnitude and targeted nature of recent fires
have undermined the nation’s tranquility and destroyed people’s
livelihoods hence the need for special security measures to be
His views have been
supported by Justice Minister Given Lubinda who feels that the
government needed to act fast in order to enhance public
security in the country.
“We have to make
sure we bring our laws that are of this age and criminals have
become sophisticated and we must also become sophisticated to
curb these vices,” he said.
stakeholders wondered whether the proclamation will fulfill its
Machila Jamba, an
independent lawmaker, while welcoming the declaration said the
government should be cautious in ensuring that people’s rights
are not infringed upon.
minister Wynter Kabimba and now an opposition leader said the
proclamation was an injustice to the people, adding that the
government should have first waited for security wings to
conduct thorough investigations.
“In the absence of
information, this proclamation is an injustice. This
proclamation is an abuse of article 31,” he said in a live
interview on Radio Phoenix.
He said the move was
a ploy by the government to deal with critics, adding that it
was clear from pronouncements from government leaders that they
were blaming the main opposition party of being behind the fires
and destruction of other public properties.
Michelo Hansungule said the proclamation was politically
motivated as it is evident that since last year’s disputed
elections, Lungu has been looking for anything that will make
him govern without any opposition.
He argued that the
police and other security wings do not require emergency powers
to investigate the fires and other sabotages the country has
Zambia says free trade
facilitation key for landlocked countries
LUSAKA Zambia (Xinhua) --
The Zambian government said on Wednesday that
facilitation of free trade was key to the advancement of trade
and development especially for landlocked countries in Africa.
Minister of Finance
Felix Mutati said initiatives such as the World Trade
Organization (WTO) trade facilitation agreement presents an
opportunity for Africa to address trade facilitation related
challenges, including transit trade.
of trade facilitation processes and the development of
supportive infrastructure, including the assurance of border
security, are important in addressing the challenges,” he said
in remarks delivered at the ongoing World Customs Organizations
Global Transit Conference in Brussels, Belgium, according to a
statement released by his ministry.
According to him,
the effective implementation of the agreement will increase the
prospects for enhancing economic activities and impact on job
creation, poverty reduction, and improved domestic resource
The Zambian minister
added that efficiency of transportation logistics was yet to
reach desired levels in Africa as it still requires a lot of
work to ease the administrative and customs procedures.
that there were a lot of initiatives in Africa to tackle the
problem of free facilitation of trade, concerns have been raised
about lack of harmony in policies and programs across regional
Africa, he said, has
the highest transport costs in the word, accounting for above 20
percent of the total imported price of goods within landlocked
According to him,
such a scenario exemplifies inefficiency as expensive
transportation restricts business activity, constrains global
competitiveness, retards intra-regional trade and stunts job
creation and poverty reduction.
He however expressed
happiness that efforts have been made to tackle the challenges
through the establishments of One-Stop Border Posts.
He welcomed the move
by the World Customs Organization to launch the New Global
Transit Guidelines meant to minimize transit time.
guidelines, he said, will be used as a practical tool by
landlocked countries to assess their national and regional