CHOMBA MUSIKA, Lusaka
STATE House has advised civil society organisations calling for the revocation of a threatened state of public emergency under Article 31 of the Constitution against trivialising matters of national security.
Special assistant to the President for press and public relations Amos Chanda says the invocation of Article 31 should not be politicised because it was done to protect life and property. He said this on Monday night in reaction to an appeal by a consortium of civil society organisations for Government to consider revoking the threatened state of public emergency. “The petition [for the revocation of Article 31] is obviously misplaced. The decisions on national security are evaluated on the basis of what the President thinks is suitable for protection of civil liberties and life and property,” Mr Chanda said. He said President Lungu’s decision to invoke Article 31 of the Constitution was done to protect life and property and not to harass citizens. “Who is complaining that security services have been able to stop politically motivated acts of arson that were rampant? No law-abiding citizen today has been arrested or imprisoned because of the invocation of Article 31,” Mr Chanda said. He said President Lungu will only revoke the threatend state of public emergency at an appropriate time. “The President will revoke Article 31 when it has run its course. If Parliament does not vote for its extension, then it will stand revoked,” he said. Mr Chanda said President Lungu is daily assessing the country’s security situation through law enforcement agencies. And Mr Chanda dismissed United Party for National Development president Hakainde Hichilema’s claims that President Lungu was using State institutions to intimidate political opponents. “Mr Hichilema was arrested by the police, so that’s a debate he can have with them,” he said.