Thursday, 4 July 2013

Dishonesty Leaders Threaten Zambia’s Political Serenity

Political selfishness has swept the breadth of the country with politicians fighting to get each other out of the race, which is a serious political disease that only cures when it causes the drawing of citizens’ blood or sees opponents completely dissipated into oblivion.

Nevers Mumba accuses chief justice Chibesakunda of influencing 
nullification of MMD MPs seats

By Nyalubinge Ngwende
Zambia is largely considered an icon of political peace and unity in the Sub-Saharan Africa. The country has enjoyed near absolute political serenity, apart from isolated skirmishes between groups of citizens and police over minor social economic misunderstandings.

However, that political serenity record risks being warped up and destroyed for the first time in history as political leaders from the opposition and the ruling party have drawn swords from their scabbards and are eager to spill each other’s blood.

A day hardly passes without vitriol crossing between President Michael Sata, alongside his ministers, and the opposition leaders.

While it is believed that conflicts are necessary in politics because of divergent nature of interests and clashing ideas of how they should be met, the levels of the political-punch-up going on resembles the vicious attacks of rapacious foxes.

 The attacks we are seeing and hearing everyday are not necessary a type of conflicts which may arise out of the desire of finding solutions to better the lives of people, the rising tide of confrontation is a sign of something gone morally wrong in the political jungle of the country.

The issues of conflict emerging more recently border more on morality. The kind that is lost always when politicians lose trust about each other and honest over the way each side, those in the opposition and those in government, must handle their legitimate and legal roles. What is left is about the two sides trying to speak over each other, undermining and accusing each other of using illegitimate and illegal means available for political expedience.

Political selfishness has swept the breadth of the country. There is someone acting to get the other out of the race, a serious political disease that only cures when it causes the drawing of citizens’ blood or the opponent is completely dissipated into oblivion.

This is why when politics come to such a tittering edge of things, it is difficult even for the warring political sides to cool their heads, find a common ground and try build consensus. It is absolutely impossible to do that because none of the parties wants to be honest enough and accept its faults. The best they do is to seek every means available to materialise their wish. Most often than not, it happens at a high cost of democracy, a good government and good development desired by the people.

The opposition are accusing President Sata of violating the rule of law to stifle opposition in the country. While President Sata, who has become a recluse, refusing to engage any of his political opponents on any issue of national concern, has accused the opposition leadership of exposing their incompetence.   He called opposition MMD leader Nevers Mumba as a mouth for hire whose recent views on the Supreme Court are reckless and bankrupt.

This is after Mumba questioned the continued stay of the chief justice Chibesakunda in office, despite that she does not qualify. Sata appointed Chibesakunda when she had already passed her age of retirement. The parliamentary committee appointed to scrutinize Chibesakunda’s appointment found she did not qualify and parliament refused to approve her for the job.

Mumba has recently made a blatant accusation that Chibesakunda is insisting to stay as chief justice in order to influence the overturning in the Supreme Court parliamentary election results petitions appeals brought by some losing Patriotic Front parliamentary candidates.

Recently the Supreme Court judges overturned, in favour of the losing Patriotic Front candidates, three high court verdicts that had declared MMD MPs as duly elected. The three include Chipata Central, Petauke Central and Malambo constituencies, all in the Eastern province which is largely seen as MMD’s stronghold.

One of the cases overturned by the Supreme Court involves the case of Dora Siliya for Petauke Central. At high court the election petition case against Siliya was thrown out in her favour. Now the high court judge, Charles Kajimanga, who had delivered that verdict, has been suspended by President Sata.

Sata wants Kajimanaga and two other judges, Nigel Mutuna and Philip Musonda—since retired, to be laundered by a controversial tribunal led by a Malawian judge Lovermore Chikopa.

Sata: Nevers Mumba is a hired mouth
Mutuna crossed King Cobra’s path arose after handling a case in which he asked Post Newspaper owner Fred M’membe and Mutembo Nchito to pay back K14 billion (KR14 million) public funds they had borrowed to save their airline venture, Zambian Airways from DBZ (Development Bank of Zambia).

Nevertheless the airline went under and the duo, M’membe--who is using his newspaper to prop up Sata’s slackening political popularity, and Nchito—who  is the DPP Sata has publicly instructed to forage dumped national assets and find cases of corruption against opposition leaders, failed to pay the K14 billion. This prompted DBZ to seek legal redress.

Knowing his two colleagues getting in hot soup, President Sata moved quickly to dissolve the DBZ board that had taken the matter to court. The bank, in a rare turn of event that stinks of political interference from echelons of government, was pressured into prematurely cancelling the debt of K14 billion with no payment arrangement or instructions to lawyers.

However, judge Mutuna went ahead and delivered judgement and a week later he was suspended.

Opposition leaders, interest groups like the Law Association of Zambia and individual citizens were completely against the actions by government to interfere with the judiciary with such kind of impunity, which they still believe undermined the whole idea of separation of powers. This is especially that Sata overlooked a constitution provision that needed him to suspend the judges after receiving a report from the judicial authority.

Legal experts defended judge Mutuna’s move to deliver judgment against M’membe and Nchito, on the premises of law that “once you start collection proceedings, you can't stop judgement for as long as there is no settlement. A settlement in this case was to be an admission of guilt and the debtor paying the lender the negotiated amount.”

The experts also argue that in the event of the case being discontinued, instructions to do so were supposed to come from the Board of directors at DBZ, but Sata had dissolved the entire board and fired the CEO at the state owned financial institution. Suspiciously, he also instructed the Attorney General to halt the proceedings against M’membe and Nchito.

The opposition points at this case, stifling of opposition leaders political liberties to hold rallies, disregarding of court orders—like on three occasions that they have failed avail passports to former President Rupiah Banda to enable him travel abroad on diplomatic invitations—as attacks on the rule of law and separation of powers by government.

President Sata has either kept dead quite and when he has reacted, he has chided his opponents as lacking credibility in their claims and only bent to dent the image of the Patriotic Front administration.

"Regrettable as it might be, Pastor Mumba appears to be a mouth for hire. How can a clergyman denounce the Judiciary for standing up against corruption? His complaint that the opposition and the MMD are being targeted by the Judiciary is ridiculous,” Sata is quoted by local media.

However, Brutal Journal believes that in all this the true morality of democracy will rise like oil over water and shame those of our political leaders who are not being honesty in their actions.


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