Edgar Lungu has declared a State of Emergency saying there are some unpatriotic people who wish to make the country ungovernable.
He says this will be tabled in the National Assembly for approval.
“This is not an easy decision to make but I have had no choice but to make this decision because these events have shown that we are slowly sliding into lawlessness,” said Lungu
Speaking in a national address, Lungu said events such as fires in public places and yesterday’s burning down of City Market in Lusaka had forced him to resort to such measures which are expected to come into force after parliament’s approval in seven day’s time.
He has asked Parliament, which is currently controlled by his ruling Patriotic Front following the suspension of 47 UPND members of parliament, to consider his invocation.
My government has decided to invoke article 31 of the constitution.
Perpetrators of these irresponsible acts are trying to make my government ungovernable. I will not tolerate this lawlessness…We have asked Zambians to stay away from irresponsible behaviour [which] has forced us to invoke these measures. I have had no choice but to take this decision given that the events in the recent past show that we are slowly sliding into lawlessness,
President Lungu said.
“I wish to emphasise that all law abiding citizens will not be impacted in any way by this decision and will have to go about their routine activities without any problem. Therefore, this proclamation should not instill fear among people but provide them with a sense of comfort and security. Business community should co-operate with government when these measures take effect.”
Article 31 on the Declaration Relating to Threatened Emergency states that:
“(1) The President may at any time by the Proclamation published in the Gazette declare that a situation exists which, if it is allowed to continue may lead to a state of public emergency. (2) A declaration made under clause (1) of this Article shall cease to have effect on the expiration of a period of seven days commencing with the day on which the declaration is made unless, before the expiration of such period, it has been approved by a resolution of the National Assembly supported by a majority of all the members thereof not counting the Speaker.
(3) In reckoning any period of seven days for the purpose of clause (2) no account shall be taken of any time during which Parliament is dissolved.
(4) A declaration made under clause (1), may, at any time before it has been approved by a resolution of the National Assembly, be revoked by the President by Proclamation published in the Gazette.
(5) Subject to clause (6) a resolution of the National Assembly under clause (2) shall continue in force until the expiration of a period of three months commencing with the date of its being approved or until revoked on an earlier date of its being so approved or until such earlier date as may be specified in the resolution.
(6) The National Assembly may by resolution, at any time revoke a resolution made by it under this Article.
(7) Whenever an election to the office of President results in a change in the holder of that office, any declaration made under this Article and in force immediately before the day on which the President assumes office, shall cease to have effect on the expiration of seven days commencing with that day.
(8) The expiration or revocation of any declaration or resolution made under this Article shall not affect the validity of anything previously done in reliance on such declaration.”
Lungu said the peace and tranquility Zambia had been enjoying was slowly being taken away by “a few unpatriotic citizens”.
He has also formed a committee of ministers to be chaired by Vice-President Inonge Wina, which would, in due course, announce measures to assist those affected by the fire.