By Austin Mbozi
Before the case goes to court let us comment. The DPP must either at worst charge ministry of finance employee Sisuku Akapelwa for conduct likely to disturb peace; or at best just enter a nolle prosequi and release him over his arrest for referring to President Sata as ‘stupid’ because:
Firstly ‘stupid’ is not an insult. Sata supported bigger ‘insults’.
The word ‘stupid’ may be unwanted in our African mindsets but it is by no means a criminal insult. Let us challenge Post newspaper editor Fred M’membe to defend Akapelwa as he defended himself before that terms like stupid, idiot, wolves etc are not insults because even Jesus Christ used them. So why is he quiet now and why is he attacking RB’s lawyer Robert Amsterdam for using the word useful idiots? Sata’s enemy-turned hero used Kaunda used ‘stupid idiots’ many times. The Cambridge dictionary defines it as, ‘silly, unwise, showing poor judgment, little intelligence’. So if I say Sata is unwise I am I insulting? Cap 87 of the Penal Code which police charge Akapelwa for does not include the term ‘stupid’ as an insult to the President.
Insults are not those terms that refer to character but those terms that refer to physical features of a person, such as, at the most mild, the facial features; or at the worst, private parts.
But President Sata and Fred Mmembe themselves have been reported as encouraging the use of undesirable terms against past sitting presidents. In 2002, President Mwanawasa got opposition MP Dipak Patel and Fred Mmembe arrested for saying and publishing (respectively) that the President was a ‘cabbage’. In self defense M’membe told the BBC that ‘ When this issue started Levy was laughing about it….Now to criminalize it… I think it will backfire against Mr Mwanwasa in the end’ . Soon afterwards Mwanawasa detained for journalists from The People newspaper for publishing a story alleging that he suffered from some kind of Parkinson’s disease. These were editor Emmanuel Chilekwa, his deputy Shadreck Banda, reporter Kingsley Lwendo and female trainee Jean Chirwa. To seek their release after four months Chilekwa apologized to the President but said something strange about Micheal Sata. He told principle resident magistrate Frank Tembo as follows:
While ( we were ) in detention , Mr Micheal Sata came to encourage me to soldier on ‘ as the case could bring early elections’. Sata directed me to contact Simeza –Sangwa who would coordinate and put a good legal defence. I was asked to write a letter that would go to Simeza –Sangwa. Sata stated that even if they had not contacted me by then, they had been working around the clock to ensure that all available evidence is presented for our defense.
I did not heed the free offer for the legal advice and instead I and my family selected a lawyer, Kelvin Fube Bwalya that would act in my best interest without political interference or inclination.
Mr Sata told me that a team of medical experts has already put together 24 questions to challenge any medical expert ( including Dr Nyendwa) that might be called in defense for the President. According to him, regardless of the outcome of the case, a whole process of trial would draw the personal credibility of the President into serious questions’.
Now Zambians, which was a bigger insult? Calling Sata stupid or publishing that Mwanawasa was sick for which the editor apologized t as a lie, but which Sata supported? Chilekwa’s statement was given right in court. Those who think I am exaggerating must go and check those records.
I may personally not anyhow use the word stupid against a head of state but that is up to me. I should be free to use it should I see fit.
Secondly, It will be seen as a tribal battle
Akapelwa is Lozi by tribe. Mayor Chisenga who arrested him under ‘citizens arrest’ is Bemba. Pursuing this matter too much will appear like a Lozi-Bemba battle. Akapelwa will be seen as being arrested for insulting a Bemba President (Sata). Yet he will be prosecuted by a Bemba DPP (Mutembo Nchito) , and the state will be advised by a Bemba Solicitor General ( Musa Mwenya) and will he will be judged by the judicially headed by an Bemba Acting Chief Justice ( Lombe Chibesakunda). I am not saying that these officers will necessarily be against Akapelwa, but even if they rule against him professionally, it will be seen as tribal. Akapelwa is arrested under circumstances where he was complaining against Bemba domination. This is even made worse since Home Affairs Minister Edger Lungu even tried to criminalize complaining against Bemba domination. He issued a warning that it was an offense to circulate that internet list which showed Sata’s Bemba-dominated appointments!
Like Sata’s Zambia, Kenya’s largest tribe is leading in elections
Africa’s ethnic non-majorities must create an umbrella body called African Ethnic Minority Network. They should liaise and find common ways in which they should also ascend to the presidency. In Zambia, the majority Bemba tribe has always refused to vote overwhelmingly for non-Bemba candidates. Mwanwasa was only voted for as Chiluba’s Bemba pawn, and when he resisted it, they flocked to the un-presidential Sata. In 1996, even Chama Chakomboka who eat at the market and refused pay got more votes in Bemba regions than degree holder Akashambatwa Lewanika. Qualified economic gurus like Mazoka and HH are rejected by this tribe!
Similarly, the Kikuyu tribe had Jomo Kenyatta. Like Mwanawasa who relied on a Bemba outgoing president Chiluba to hold the presidency, Daniel Arab Moi, a Tugen tribesman, needed Kikuyu endorsement support to survive. Mwai Kibaki, Moi’s successor was also Kikuyu. And now another Kikuyu, Kenyatta’s son Uhuru is leading. In Zambia, the largest (Bemba) and second largest (Tonga) tribes have competed to power. Kaunda-Kapwepwe rivaled Nkumbula. Then Chiluba rivaled Baldwin Nkumbula. Now Sata rivals HH. In Kenya, Kenyatta rivaled a Luo, his former vice president Jaramogi Odinga Odinga, then Mwai Kibaki rivaled Odinga’s son Raila Odinga. Now the two sons of former rivals have continued their fathers’ tribal battles; Uhuru Kenyatta rival Raila Odinga.
Ultimately, the majority carry the day not because of quality- Sata and Uhuru both have questionable international credentials- but because their tribal numbers.
Thirdly, it will be seen as yet another of Sata’s fear of criticism
Why is it that under Sata and Chiluba the Commonwealth have to be called in for fact-finding missions for human rights abuses? Well, both Chiluba and Sata lack education to argue their points. Both have resorted to old-age possessions of undeserved degrees, hoping these will make them more respected. Chiluba was a little better actually, because he never arrested people for mere statements like stupid but would argue his way at press conferences. Sata cannot. He relies on The Post to suger-coat him. Yet he can not even explain their praise descriptions of him, such as that funny and vague description about his ‘personality’ versus his ‘character’. It is a case of the praise singer being more sophisticated than the praised!
Sata’s attitude is making all of us who write unsure what we will be charged with if one day he instructs his police to arrest us. Look, while many people hide their identify, I don’t hide mine because I don’t want to maliciously offend people. I want to state the facts as they are and be held accountable for them. If I error I will apologize. I have never even wished that Sata should leave state house before his first term as he openly wished Mwanawasa.
Yet, like Mayor Chisanga did to Akapelwa, PF cadres are so embarrassed about Sata’s failures that they are on the look out for those opposing him. Being an easily identifiable writer I often get confronted with mediocre PF cadre workmates over my personal comments but when I challenge then to publish anything against my views they cannot because their heads are too empty for public display. Why did Chisenga join in a private argument between Akapelwa and his girlfriend? Why do PF cadres personalize Sata? Could it be that since they too strongly identified themselves with him, they feel insulted when he is attacked! Too bad for them. That’s is their lesson. Next time identify yourselves with workable things! And if Akapelwa was shouting at the top of his voice with intent to provoke anger among other bar customers, then the charge should be ‘conduct’ but certainly not that insulting the president contrary to Cap 87 of the Penal Code!
I personally want President Sata to stay on till 2016. But my reasons are not like those of PF cadres. My reason is so that PF cadres learn a lesson that a president, even if he comes from your tribe, can not just go and grab mealie meal from tribes that grow it and give you like he tried but failed to do with increasing mealie meal shortages. So meanwhile go on suffering so that you lean a lesson. Me am not suffering.