By JOSEPH BANDA –
CABINET has invoked Article 31 of the Constitution after the Government noticed a trend of activities with the potential to result in public emergency if left unchecked, President Edgar Lungu has announced.
In a special national address aired on ZNBC last evening, President Lungu said the burning of stalls at Lusaka’s City Market and other similar incidences were not mere happenings but well coordinated to draw the country backwards.
“Following these happenings Cabinet decided to invoke Article 31, because if left unchecked, can result in public emergency,” he said.
According to Article 31 (1) The President may at any time by the Proclamation published in the Gazette declare that a situation exists which, if is allowed to continue may lead to a state of public emergency.
He said the events were not mere acts of spontaneous criminality, but premeditated, which, if left unchecked, could have serious socio-economic consequences of drawing the country backwards.
He said it was the duty of the Government to ensure that each and every person in the country enjoyed the freedom and protection as enshrined in the Constitution.
“Following these sad events, my Government has decided to invoke Article 31 of the Republican Constitution, which guides how a nation should deal with an existing situation, which if allowed to continue may lead to a state of public emergency. It is my hope that Members of Parliament will rise to the occasion when it is tabled before Parliament,” he said,” he said
The President said there was no doubt that the intentions of the perpetrators of the actions was to make the country ungovernable and as Head of State, it was his responsibility to respond to forestall the planned chaos.
The Government had repeatedly advised citizens to desist from any irresponsible behaviour, but it appeared the calls fell on deaf ears and practical measures had to be invoked.
He said it was not an easy decision, but in order to preserve peace, tranquility, safety of citizens and national security, the Government had no choice since its primary responsibility was to protect life and property.
He said all law abiding citizens would not be affected and should continue with their daily routines normally.
The President would ensure that the measures under the proclamation did not instill fear in law abiding citizens, but provide a sense of comfort and security.
He said for 53 years Zambia had enjoyed peace and been able to provide education, health and other amenities not by accident, but through collective responsibility as expressed in the ‘One Zambia One Nation’ motto.
It was saddening that the peace and tranquility that the country had cherished was slowly being eroded because of a few unpatriotic citizens who had decided to involve themselves in criminal activities endangering the lives and property of many citizens.
Apart from the burning of City Market in August 2016 Tambalala market in Lusaka was gutted followed by the Mongu Local Court in early 2017.
In April, 2017, Luburma market set ablaze and in the same month, a person was apprehended for attempting to set ablaze Inter City Bus Terminus in Lusaka..
He said in a related event four youths were arrested outside the Lusaka Central Correctional Facility with substances capable of causing fire while the Kafue District Education Board offices were gutted on May 1, 2017.