Chishala kateka


By Chishala Kateka, President of the New Heritage Party

Dear Friends, we continue to share our thoughts on issues affecting us.

Now that the dust appears to have settled over Zambia Law Development Commission’s recommendations on the review of the Penal Code Act, Chapter 87 of the Laws of Zambia and the Criminal Procedure Code Act, Chapter 88 of the Laws of Zambia, some aspects of which caused a lot of dust, we would like to send a word of serious caution to fellow Zambians, especially to those in leadership positions, to be very careful with how we comment on important matters that are likely, one way or another, to affect the general public or manipulate their opinions.

When the Zambia Law Development Commission (ZLDC) handed over the review report to the Minister of Justice on 15th February, 2022 containing proposed changes to and harmonization of certain laws, the areas that received the most interest had to do with Bigamy, Polygamy and Abortion.

In the immediate aftermath to the Report launch, we heard mostly from well-established men and women of God together with some political leaders, offering their opinions against what they purported to be manouevres to “change the laws so as to make Bigamy not punishable by the law” as well as “legalizing abortion”.

Much was also said against “changing our laws to accommodate polygamy” in our statutes. They espoused such moves were contrary to our standing as a Christian Nation; that they would tend to legitimize and worsen sexual immorality while opening doors for future changes to our laws that would likely accommodate gayism and other abominations.

As the New Heritage Party, we are compelled to express our disappointment and voice out our concerns as to how our clergy as well as some political leaders handled this whole matter of the ZLDC Report for the following reasons:

  • [x] their reactions were unresearched and therefore based on hearsay; and
  • [x] their statements ended up being unduly alarmist in nature because in no way were the ZLDC proposing to legalize Bigamy and Abortion.

It is our well-guarded view that those clergy and politicians who commented could have done well to first read the report, which is in the public domain and can easily be accessed, in order to appreciate the specific findings and recommendations, or to meet with the ZLDC and get the correct picture of what was being proposed, the background and the justification.

This is what we did as New Heritage Party and must hasten to laud the ZLDC for availing us a full and very cordial audience where all these and other matters pertaining to the exercise they had undertaken and its subsequent Report were clearly explained, thereby exposing the many inaccuracies and ultimately unfairness of the criticism directed at them.

The important lessons from this sad occurrence (sad because some people have not had the privilege of hearing the rebuttals of the accusations labeled against ZLDC and will still hold the inaccurate information as the status quo) are:

(i) that those of us who are opinion makers and will most likely make news headlines must ensure to verify all matters on which we comment for truth and accuracy; and

(ii) that we should never be in haste to offer our opinions lest we base our comments on hearsay and mislead people when we have the capacity to countercheck matters to ensure our guidance is as accurate as it is needed to be.

The Book of James, in Chapter 1 verse 19 advises us all to “be quick to hear (and) slow to speak…”!

Our advice as above applies to all opinion makers including traditional rulers, politicians, and civil society organizations. In a country that is badly polarized on the basis of many worrisome considerations like ethnicity, regionalism, politics, religion, and even gender, we all need to guard against quickfire reactions, and subsequently issuing unresearched comments as these can, in the end, be the little matchstick that lights a fire big enough to consume our entire nation.

Chishala Kateka
President, New Heritage Party


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