KACHASU V THE ATTORNEY GENERAL: Patriotism & Law in Zambia

 Before I continue, let me say right here that I do not endorse any hate speech against any religious sect. My aim is to unite a people and not to divide them through hatred and name-calling. (Let me now proceed)

So, the year was 1966 and the country had just fought its way through a grueling struggle for independence. A young girl aged between twelve to thirteen years had refused to salute the National flag owing to religious reasons i.e. that she was a Jehovah’s Witness. The government school to which she was on sponsorship, Buyantanshi School in Mufulira, decided to suspend her to that effect. Consequently, her father who went by the name of Paul Kachasu, decided to sue the State and the matter was set for hearing in the High Court of Lusaka.

Mr. Kachasu’s counsel had attacked the specific regulations which were issued by the Minister of Education, requiring all pupils in schools to be salute the National flag and sing the National Anthem. The regulations provided as follows:

25. (1) For the purpose of promoting national unity and a proper respect for the National Anthem and the National Flag as the secular symbols of national consciousness –

(a)     Instruction shall be provided at all schools in the singing of the National Anthem and in the proper manner in which pupils should behave on formal occasions at which the National Anthem is played or sung or the National Flag is down;

According Mr. Kachasu’s counsel, these provisions were inconsistent with the Bill of Rights of the Constitution in that they forced a student to act against his religious beliefs. For the Bill of Rights provides for protection of such religious expression.

In resolving this issue, Blagden J, said “ Now, in the light of all the foregoing, I ask myself, is it reasonably required in the interests of public safety, or for the purpose of protecting the rights and freedoms of others that children in Government schools should be required to sing the national anthem and salute the national  flag? The criterion is reasonableness, not essentiality. A requirement can be reasonable without being essential.”


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