This was an appeal against the decision of the High Court stating that sections 5 and 6 of the Public Order Act, Cap 113 Laws of Zambia (POA) do not violate the constitutional provisions on freedom of expression and assembly.
The court determined whether the POA, as amended, was constitutional and addressed concerns raised by the court in the Mulundika judgment over unconstitutionality of the pre amended section 5(4). Second, whether the police were applying the provisions in the POA in a fair manner?
Although section 5(6) lacked a time frame for a reasonable alternative period to which a public meeting may be postponed, the court found that the requirement for a notice addressed the concerns raised in Mulundika.
It was further noted that freedom of expression and assembly could be limited by the police for public order. However, the police must give a reason for a failure to police a public meeting. The reason must fall within the ambit of section 20(3)(a) and 21(2)(a) of the Constitution. The limitations placed by the POA on the rights were thus held to be constitutional.
The court also held that the grievance procedure in section 5(8) and 5(9) of the POA was just and fair. Namely, when the police are unable to police a public meeting, they inform the convener within five days of the notification. The police are then required to give reasons which may be challenged on appeal. Further the grievance must be resolved within 10 days.
Accordingly, the appeal was dismissed.