When you place a frog in hot water, it jumps out. But put it in cold water and slowly increase the temperature and you shall be able to boil it alive. The law passed in Zambia requiring everyone to register their cellphone sim cards or else risk being disconnected is another temperature increase in the march towards a police state, courtesy of the Patriotic Front (PF) government while Zambians sleep, thinking all is well. It takes little imagination to see what will happen.

a) Opposition leaders will have their cellphones tapped

b) On any radio or TV phone-in program, the govt will be able to know who is calling to criticize them

c) The Intelligence Services (locally known as the “Shu Shu Shu”) will be monitoring people’s phone calls without warrants

d) Govt will find it easier to collect dirt on their opponents for use in neutralizing them

e) This sets a precedent for further repressive action by the govt in other areas

One silver lining in all this is that some people are waking up. On Radio Phoenix recently, a discussion on the repressive Public Order Act (POA) was an eye opener. I am glad the Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) are going to challenge the law as unconstitutional (it contradicts Freedom of Assembly in the Bill of Rights). The PF always complained about the POA when they were in opposition but now seem to be in love with it. Under former presidents Rupiah Banda and Levy Mwanawasa, they were allowed to hold rallies without police interference but today, the favourite excuses of the police to block the opposition United Party for National Development (UPND) or Movement for Multi-party Democracy (MMD) rallies are lack of manpower or “intelligence information” pointing to impending chaos.

Wake up Zambians and jump out of the water!