Fred M’membe, the owner of the Post newspaper and leader of the cartel holding president Michael Sata hostage has written the following comments in what he calls editoril:
Fri 29 Mar. 2013, 14:01 CAT [282 Reads, 0 Comment(s)]
What happened yesterday at the South African High Commission in Lusaka raises a
lot of questions.
Staff of the High Commission were asked to leave the
premises before 10:00 hours. And by 09:45 hours, all members of staff of the
High Commission who had been asked to leave had left. All this was in
preparation for Rupiah Banda’s visit to the High Commission. Indeed, around
10:00 hours Rupiah appeared at the High Commission in a Toyota Land Cruiser that
was heavily tinted and its number plate removed.
Acting on a tip from members
of staff of the embassy, we positioned our journalists at the High Commission in
time for Rupiah’s arrival. Our staff saw Rupiah in his heavily tinted Toyota
Land Cruiser. And they recognised this Toyota Land Cruiser as one of the
vehicles that is usually in his convoy. There was no mistake about Rupiah’s
identity. Even the guard who appears in our front page picture saluting
confirmed that the person he was saluting was Rupiah. This said, the question
that arises is why did Rupiah have to appear at the South African High
Commission in Lusaka under such high secrecy – staff of the High Commission sent
away, Rupiah himself moving incognito in a heavily tinted motor vehicle and
without the identifying number plate?
There is definitely some element of
mischief here on the part of the South African High Commission in Lusaka and on
Rupiah’s part. Both didn’t want that visit to be known; both wanted it to be
secret. But why should a visit to the South African High Commission by a former
Zambian president be a matter of such high secrecy? What are they hiding? Who
are they trying to hide from? And why should they hide?
We hope the South
African government of Jacob Zuma is not trying to interfere in the legitimate
internal affairs of Zambia. Rupiah is facing legitimate criminal charges before
our courts of law. Rupiah is not before a kangaroo court but before the courts
he himself says he has confidence in. If Rupiah does not agree with his
prosecution, he can seek legal redress within this same judiciary he has
declared confidence in.
Rupiah has challenged the removal of his presidential
immunity in the High Court of Zambia. No one has stopped him from doing so. And
Rupiah is before a court that he believes will accord him a fair and just
hearing. This being the case, where is the problem? What wrong has the Zambian
Is it wrong for the Zambian government to prosecute a
former president who is believed to have committed a crime? The Constitution of
Zambia and the laws of this country do provide procedures for bringing a former
president to court to answer charges for the wrongs he did while in office. And
if this is unlawfully done, the laws of this country do give adequate protection
to Rupiah to seek legal redress, as he has done, through judicial review. Where
is the problem? What is South Africa’s concern?
Didn’t South Africa itself
prosecute Zuma when he was deputy president for corruption? Didn’t the African
National Congress terminate the presidency of Thabo Mbeki over these issues? Did
the Zambian government protest that? Did the Zambian government interfere in
their internal affairs? There are questions being raised about the expenditure
on Zuma’s personal home; has the Zambian government or have the Zambian
politicians raised any issues concerning this?
Not very long ago, the South
African police massacred defenceless miners in a manner that some of its own
human rights activists are comparing to the apartheid Sharpeville massacre. No
one in Zambia or indeed the whole SADC region raised any issue with Zuma or the
South African government. This is a matter the South African authorities are
dealing with internally.
We know that when it comes to issues of corruption,
South Africa is not a good example for the region. It is a country in which
corruption seems to be taking root very fast. While we respect the courage and
determination of the people of that heroic country to free themselves from
apartheid and its evils, we do not look up to them in matters of fighting
corruption. They have not shown exemplary behaviour. And our standards on the
issue of corruption should not in any way be dictated by South African conduct.
They have very little positive to show on this score. But it is not our duty to
interfere with what formula they want to use to share the resources of that
country. If corruption is their way of empowerment, we may have a problem with
it, but we have no right to tell them what to do or what not to do. They are a
sovereign country and a sovereign people, but so are we and our country. Here we
have vowed not to allow our leaders to abuse their stewardship role to enrich
themselves, their families and friends. We think there is a better and more
honest way of empowering ourselves.
If Rupiah feels victimised and believes
he is being unfairly treated, our courts of law are open to him. Let him go
there and seek redress as he is already doing. There is no redress over this
matter that the South African High Commission or indeed the South African
government will accord him. This is not a political matter for political
lobbying; it is a legal matter that requires a legal defence. No amount of
sneaking into and out of this and that embassy or high commission will save
Rupiah from going to jail if he is found to be guilty of abusing his office and
stealing public funds to enrich himself and his children.
having held the office of president, is a citizen of this country, who is equal
to all other citizens before the law. There is a rule of law in this country.
And the rule of law is based on equality before the law, or equal protection of
the law as it is often phrased. This is fundamental to any just and democratic
society. Whether politically or financially powerful, all are entitled to
equality before the law.
The lifting of Rupiah’s immunity made him equal to
other citizens before the law. Rupiah will be prosecuted in the same way any
other citizen will be prosecuted for committing a crime. In fact, in Rupiah’s
case, he is being treated with more respect or courtesy than an ordinary
citizen. For this, he should be grateful.
We, therefore, appeal to all the
foreign missions in Zambia to be careful with the way they deal with Rupiah and
the situation he finds himself in. They shouldn’t deceive themselves that they
will be allowed to place the interests of Rupiah above those of the Zambian
people. If Rupiah matters more to them than the Zambian people, they will soon
realise that to us as a nation, the interests of the people take precedence over
their commitment to Rupiah. They will also soon realise that Zambia, since
independence in 1964, has never been recolonised by any other country. We value
our place in SADC but we have not surrendered our sovereignty to any of our
highly respected neighbours, including South Africa.
The behaviour of the
South African High Commissioner to Zambia is questionable and needs to be
explained. It may be necessary for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to summon him
to come and explain his behaviour.