Saturday 24 December 2022

Zambia Abolishes Death Penalty And Defamation Of The President

President Hichilema signs the law as his 
 Legal Advisor Christopher Mundia looks on
By Paul Shalala

Zambia has abolished the Death Penalty and Defamation of the President, two colonial era pieces of legislation which have been on the cards for repealing for several decades.

The death penalty is a capital punishment which is imposed on all those convicted of some of the gravest of offences in the country.

Anyone who is convicted for murder, treason and aggravated robbery is sent to a maximum security prison and wait to be hanged.

For Defamation of the President, this archaic law became more prominent under former President Edgar Lungu and current President Hakainde Hichilema.

Dozens of people who criticized the President found themselves on the other side of the law.

The law has been used by those in authority to reign in on critical voices and sort out dissent.

In both administrations, opposition leaders usually found themselves in Police stations and courts, answering to charges of insulting the President.

During the campaigns ahead of the 2021 general elections, President Hichilema, then the leading opposition figure, promised to repeal the two pieces of legislation.

After being elected President, Mr. Hichilema stuck to his guns, repeating his promise to abolish the Death Penalty in May and September 2022.

And on 23 December, 2022, President Hichilema signed the Penal Code Amendment Bill Number 25 of 2022 which abolishes the two controversial laws.

President Hichilema said this on his Facebook page upon signing the laws:

“Please be informed that this afternoon, we assented to the Penal Code (Amendment) Bill number 25 of 2022, abolishing the imposition of the death penalty in the Republic of Zambia, and the offence of Criminal Defamation of the President. Fellow Zambians, during our campaigns for the Presidency, we promised to amend all laws that inhibit the growth of democracy and good governance, impede human rights and basic freedoms. Today we have delivered.”

Reaction to this decision has been uniform across the country.

Politicians, activists and ordinary citizens have weighed in on the matter.

Fred M'membe

“The abolition of defamation of the President laws and criminal defamation in general has been long overdue. We therefore highly welcome the abolition of defamation of the President laws. It was an offence for any person who, with intent to bring the President into hatred, ridicule or contempt, published any defamatory or insulting statements,” said Fred M’membe, President of the Socialist Party in Zambia.

Mr. M’membe, a former Editor-In-Chief for the now defunct Post Newspapers, says the past years have seen a growing global movement towards decriminalising defamation and Zambia has not been left behind.

The opposition leader says the Death Penalty and the Defamation of the President had to go.

“These laws were clearly unconstitutional and fell foul of international standards on freedom of expression. To be more meaningful, the repeal of defamation laws needs to be immediately accompanied by the removal of the public order Act.”

Another opposition leader Harry Kalaba, who leads the Citizens First political party, says the two laws were archaic.

“We expected this and we appreciate that it has finally been done. This is a law that should never have been there in the first place. A fair playing field is a key ingredient of democracy. We thank the international community and all stakeholders for keeping tabs and ensuring that a draconian law is repealed,” said Mr. Kalaba.

The former Foreign Affairs Minister in the previous administration says there was need for wider consultation before the abolishment of the Death Penalty.

“We believe in issue-based politics and that’s why we would rather focus on the issue of death Penalty that we think should have sought wider consultation before abolishing it. There are those who have lost their loved ones to criminal activities who feel the Death Penalty is a better option while those related to the people on death row will think otherwise and therefore in our view this issue should have attracted wider consultation,” he added.

On the international scene, Amnesty International welcomed the news that Zambia had joined other countries in abolishing the Death Penalty.

In March this year, Amnesty International Secretary General Agnes Callamard visited President Hichilema at State House and issued the following statement on human rights in Zambia.

“Under former President Edgar Lungu’s administration, authorities weaponized the law to criminalize peaceful dissent, charging critics with a wide range of offences including criminal defamation, incitement of public disorder and sedition. For example, on 9 March 2020, police arrested a 15-year-old boy in Kapiri Mposhi, and charged him with three counts of criminal libel after he allegedly criticized President Lungu on Facebook. Authorities must repeal the repressive legislation, especially the Public Order Act, and the Cyber Security and Cyber Crimes Act that have been used to suppress human rights, including freedom of peaceful assembly, association and expression.”

With the abolishing of the Death Penalty, Amnesty International has reacted.

Tigere Chagutah, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East and Southern Africa said: “Amnesty International welcomes the announcement by President Hichilema that the death penalty has been abolished in Zambia. This is a good and progressive move that shows the country’s commitment to protecting the right to life.”

Harry Kalaba

Mr. Chagutah commended President Hichilema for quashing the offence of criminal defamation of the president which he said muzzled free speech and unjustifiably limited freedom of expression in the country.

“With the abolition, Zambia became the 25th country in sub-Saharan Africa to abolish the death penalty for all crimes. Zambia’s decision to ban the death penalty should serve as an example to countries in the region that still use the death penalty and compel them to take immediate steps to end this cruel, inhuman and degrading form of punishment and protect the right to life,” he added.

Mr. Chagutah encouraged the Zambian government to accede to the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty.

Since January 1997, no Zambian citizen has been executed as successive Presidents have been declining to sign the execution orders for those sentenced to death.

This is on the basis of Zambia having been declared a Christian Nation early in the 1990s by President Frederick Chiluba and since then, no Zambian President wants to preside over an execution.

In the last 25 years since the hang man executed the last prisoner at the Mukobeko Maximum Security Prison in Kabwe, lobbying for the abolishment of the death penalty has been loud.

Both local and international non-governmental organisations have voiced out on the matter, encouraging Zambia to join an international group of countries which have done away with the law.

As at December 2021, Zambia had 257 death row inmates who were being held at the condemned section of the Mukobeko Maximum Security Prison.

The inmates, who wear white uniforms, live in small cells which are isolated from lifers and other convicts within the prison.

Over the years, successive Presidents having been using their Prerogative of Mercy to commute death sentences into life sentences on days such as African Freedom Day (Africa Day) and Independence Day (October 25) to reduce on congestion in the Condemned Section at Mukobeko.

According to UN records, 170 countries have so far abolished the death penalty or introduced a moratorium on the death penalty or have suspended executions for 10 years.

Of these, 24 countries are in Africa and they include states like Liberia, Central African Republic and Equatorial Guinea.

Zambia now becomes the 25th country in Africa to abolish the Death Penalty.

Friday 16 December 2022

Brief Profile Of Newly Elected ZCTU President Blake Mulala And Secretary General Joy Beene

Joy Beene (left), Joseph Chewe (middle)
and Blake Mulala (right)
By Paul Shalala

Congratulations to Mr. Blake Mulala and Mr. Joy Beene who have been elected President and Secretary General respectively, for the Zambia Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU).

ZCTU is the mother body of the labour movement in Zambia, it is also the voice for the workers.

As President and Secretary General, these two will be the face of the labour movement and their job will be to fight for the workers' rights and privileges.


Mr. Blake Mulala is the President of the Grain and Meat Workers Union of Zambia.

This is a union which was formed and registered in 2006 to represent workers in the Grain and Meat industry on industrial and labour related maters.

I know most people may not know this union because it is not very vocal like BETUZ, SESTUZ, CSAWUZ and others but it's there.

Mr. Mulala, who is 52 years old, started his unionism at Twikatane Farm Products in Barlastone Park near Eden University in Lusaka. 

He used to advocate for better working conditions for his fellow employees despite there being no union at the farm.

His fellow workers nicknamed him Workers Spokesperson.

Mr. Mulala served as Dispatch Supervisor at Twikatane Farm Products from 1995 to 1998.

The following year, he joined Zambeef Products PLC were he works up to today.

As a Unionist, he served in various positions having started as a Shop Steward, Branch Chairman, Vice President and subsquently voted to the position of President of the Grain and Meat Workers Union of Zambia in 2013.

Mr. Mulala was born and grew up in Kalabo District in Western Province.

He did his Primary School at Mutala in Kalabo and proceeded to Kalabo Secondary School and later to the prestigious Kambule Boys Secondary School in Mongu.

Mr. Mulala holds a Diploma in Business Administration and Management from the Institute of Commercial Management in the United Kingdom.

His election as ZCTU President yesterday was not his first attempt.

In 2014, he contested as ZCTU President and he lost by a paltry 20 votes to Nkole Chishimba, who was President for the Mine Workers Union of Zambia..

In 2018, he again gathered courage and stood for the same position.

This time, the government machinery moved in as Mr. Mulala was a fierce and vocal critic of the I'll fated Bill 10.

Mr. Mulala was disqualified by the Labour Commissioner and he didn't contest the elections at the ZCTU Quadrannual Conference which gave Mr. Nkole Chishimba a second term as President.

Four years later, the man they disqualified is the new ZCTU President.



Joy Beene is a 48 year old medical practitioner who is employed by the Ndola Teaching Hospital on the Copperbelt.

He holds a Diploma in Biomedical Science from Evelyn Hone College and a Bachelor of Public Administration (with merit) from the prestigious University of Zambia.

Mr. Beene with his supporters
He started his unionism at the hospital were he served as Ndola Branch Chairman for the Civil Servants Union of Zambia (CSUZ).

In 2004 he enrolled at Evelyn Hone College in Lusaka were he went to study Biomedical Science.

With the unionism blood in him, he attempted to contest as President for the Evelyn Hone College Students Union (EHCOSU) in 2005 but he lost.

The following year, he didn't give up, he attempted again and he won with a landslide.

Joy Beene led the union as President for a year and we used to call him "Mature PG (President General)."

In that same year, I had been elected Publicity Secretary for the Evelyn Hone College Students Electoral Commission.

So we handled the elections which ushered him in office, I remember my comrade Lumpa Mubanga was the Commission Chairman.

In 2007, I was elected Electoral Commission Chairman, a position I held until I left the college at the end of the year.

Back to Joy Beene, after he left college in 2006, he went back to the Copperbelt were he continued serving as Ndola Branch Chairman for CSUZ.

In 2010, Mr. Beene made history as he was elected General Secretary for the Civil Servants and Allied Workers Union of Zambia (CSAWUZ), which had just been rebranded from CSUZ.

He made history because his election was unprecedented, he jumped the Provincial structure and went straight to the National Secretariat in Lusaka.

He held that position for eight years until 2018 when he was elected Deputy Secretary General in charge of Finance at the Zambia Congress of Trade Unions.

This is the position Mr. Beene held until yesterday when ZCTU members elected him ZCTU Secretary General at the Quadrennial Conference in Livingstone.

At the international level, Mr. Beene is the Deputy President for the SADC Region for the International Trade Union.

He was elected in that role in November 2022.

He is a spiritual man, a family man and a committed Seventh-Day Adventist.

When he was at Evelyn Hone College, he served as Vice Youth Leader at Evelyn Hone SDA Company in 2005 and the following year he was elected as our Youth Sponsor.

This is the Joy Beene I know from at a personal level.

Thursday 8 December 2022

Omari Muwowo: A Zambian Police Officer Who Fights Piracy

By Paul Shalala

Omari Muwowo

Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) Omari Muwowo is an officer you can joke with, play with and work with.

He was recently promoted to DCP and am so proud of him because his work speaks for himself.

He is a user friendly officer who I have known since the year 2010.

When I worked for MUVI Television between 2010 and 2012, Mr. Muwowo and his colleagues at the Intellectual Property Unit of the Zambia Police Service did a great job in fighting piracy in the country.

My colleagues Brian Mwale, Mwape Kumwenda, Mabvuto Phiri and many others who worked at MUVI TV remember this man and how we worked with him on piracy stories.

In those days, they operated from a poorly made container at Force Headquarters in Lusaka but their work was countrywide.

I remember covering them on operations in Lusaka, Kabwe and Kapiri Mposhi were they pounced on people pirating music and selling to unsuspecting travelers.

Mr. Muwowo was an integral part of the team.

To us journalists, he was and is still 'Constable' Omari Muwowo because he considers himself the lowest ranked Police officer, despite rising through the ranks over the past decade or so.

Even his Facebook page is called Constable Omari Muwowo.

Below is a short summary of how this great Police officer has risen through the ranks due to his patriotism, selflessness and dedication to work.

Mr. Muwowo is a graduate of the School of Public Order Maintenance in Kitwe which is popularly known as Kamfinsa, he was trained at the Mobile Unit.

Upon passing out, he was transferred to Lusaka Central Police Station where he worked briefly before he was transferred to Research and Planning Unit at Police headquarters.

It was at Force Headquarters where he exhibited his intelligence and Police dynamics.

As a Constable by rank, he did a project proposal in Sweden which led to the introduction of  the Intellectual Property Unit of the Zambia Police Service.

According to my research, what existed in the Police then was an ad-hoc Anti-Piracy Crack Squad.

Mr. Muwowo spearheaded Intellectual property initiatives and enforcement mechanisms which made him a renowned Intellectual property trainer in Africa and Europe.

He became the only one and the first African to be part of the training faculty in Stockholm, Sweden.

During his days under Intellectual Property Unit were I first met him at that container at Force Headquarters, sanity was brought in the Zambian markets.

Most of the fake products were confiscated to the point where he was nicknamed The Sweeper by traders at Lusaka Town Center were they usually sold pirated CDs and DVDs.

I remember those days, the Intellectual Property Unit of the Police used to work with an organization called Cycorps which was headed by a Mr Kingsley Nkonde.

Mr Nkonde was also another passionate person when it comes to fighting piracy.

I lost touch with him but if anyone can reach him, he can tell you how they fought piracy those days.

If am not mistaken, Brian Mwale and Mwape Kumwenda won Media Awards in Anti-Piracy those days, courtesy of the stories we did with the Zambia Police Intellectual Property Unit and Cycorps.

Back to Mr Muwowo, from Constable, he rose to the rank of Sub Inspector, Skipping the the rank of Sergeant.

Due to his hard work, he later became Inspector and Chief Inspector, the rank he only enjoyed for only one month and he was again promoted to the rank of Assistant Superintendent.

This scenario of frequent promotions just shows you how hard working and disciplined the man is.

In no time, he became a Superintendent, one of those ranks we call Ba Unga Unga.

Three years ago, he was promoted to the rank of Senior Superintendent and transferred to the Zambia Police Professional Standards and Integrity Committee.

Under his watch, there was a reduction in Police unethical conduct and corruption.

Almost every Zambian had his mobile number to report any officers who misbehaved, that is how ‘Constable’ Omari Muwowo works, he has an open door policy.

Other attributes I forgot to mention are that Mr. Muwowo is a disciplinarian, an honest and frank man who sensitises people through radio, Television and his Facebook page were he write articles to enlighten the public.

In short, wherever he goes, he revamps and makes an impact.

A few years ago, he was transferred to Western Province as Chief of Operations where he worked for 1 year 6 months.

Last year upon change of government, Mr. Muwowo was promoted as Acting Assistant Commissioner of Police and transferred to Police headquarters under the Operations Department.

Two months ago, another promotion came, he was given the rank of Deputy Commissioner of Police, skipping one rank of Senior Assistant Commissioner of Police.

He was appointed Director Operations, this means he is the man who attends to riots, emergencies, Policing of public events, manning gatherings and crowd management.

In short, Mr. Muwowo has excelled because he hates people who counterfeit products, people who are corrupt, Police officers who are unprofessional and unethical and he also hates laziness.

That is what I know about ‘Constable’ Muwowo, the DCP in the Zambia Police Service.

He is my friend and I celebrate his recent promotion.