I have seen many debates on this issue and I wanted to see if I can propose a different route.. consider the actual arrest. The arrest was based on Pilato engaging in an act that is likely to breach peace. Now the government needs to prove to us how the song is actually going to breach the peace they are so happy to protect. The burden of proof is on the government.. Now if the government sets a precedent and says the song indeed is likely to breach peace then I too can find a song sang by Dandy Krazy and say this song is likely to do the same thing; the key word is likely. A strict interpretation of the law “ breach of peace” shows you how redundant this is and how absurd it is. The Government had more credibility with the defamation claim than the breach of peace claim.
Lets consider this rhetoric by members of the PF; They called HH and his group of leaders ba Kachema; why didn’t they get arrested for rhetoric likely to cause issues with peace? Because brothers and sisters the law currently in Zambia, and in many cases in the past, only serves the party in power. Many musicians have sang songs to belittle HH and insult UPND but none have been arrested. When we start looking at the law through the prism of political partyism; this is what we get- Pilato being arrested. I have heard things like he has a political agenda; YES, everyone is entitled to use their work, if they want, to gear a specific political agenda. If I did a peace of work with the political agenda of influencing leaders to support women’s rights would I be shunned for “having a political agenda?” NO!!
This issue didn’t deserve an arrest; it should have ended merely as debates within the civic culture of Zambia.. and that’s it. Arresting Pilato was not a matter of jurisprudence or some form of legal morality; it was merely because he sang a song that the party in power didn’t like. If indeed the issue was the song, then many Zambian artists should be in jail right now because many have insulted HH many many many times.. its important to understand that we have always reserved the musicians, and often times give them far much greater freedom to express themselves because that’s the nature of art.
When I consider issues; I look at them from the ideals that I cherish. And when I look at the arrest of Pilato; I feel that this is an attack on freedom of expression; effectively what we are saying is that if you attack the president, or criticize him then you are breaching the peace of the nation.. this is a draconian concept; because you as well as I know that we are not going to agree with what Edgar does, neither are we going to agree with what HH does. The fact that they decided to come into the public allows us to openly condemn them and satirize them.
The law in of itself, in its purest form.. falls flat… if it is used as the justification for arresting Pilato… however if you bring in political partyism .. then I am inclined to find the logic…