We have hitherto avoided commenting on the on-going kangaroo tribunal set up to fix suspended Director of public Prosecutions (DPP) Mutembo Nchito. Anybody who has been following our work knows that we take a strong stance on each case of public interest. We are not the type of publication that indulges in fake, false and misleading neutrality. We see things in black and white. Yes, like George Bush’s philosophy: ‘you are either with us or with them’. We believe this is an honest attitude than pretending to be neutral yet in your heart you are raging and cursing.
Mutembo Nchito is not our friend. He is not our enemy. He is a compatriot, a fellow citizen. But he is not an ordinary citizen. He is a public figure.
When Mutembo Nchito was DPP, we were interested in each and every step he made. That is because whatever he did affected the public. He was a powerful individual and was paid from public coffers. That interests us. That is our business. That is why we established the Zambian Watchdog in 2003. To check what government officials are doing or not doing.
When someone is in government, he is our client. He becomes our prime focus. When Nchito was DPP, we told this country and the world at large what wrongs we believed Nchito committed. When the powers that be or were hinted at appointing Nchito DPP, we expressed our views here and listed all the reasons we thought Nchito was unsuitable to be appointed DPP. One just needs to go back to what we wrote then to realise that, most of the charges Nchito is facing now were documented by us right here. In those days, those persecuting Nchito now were accusing us of lying. It was that time that we had expected the police or courts to have dealt with Nchito.
Right now what is happening to Nchito is political victimisation. It has nothing to do with the government of PF’s desire to obtain justice or punish a wrong doer. They are interested in punishing a political opponent and remove him from power. That is what this whole tribunal is all about. The Watchdog cannot be expected to support such foolishness. Was it not Edgar Lungu and his friend who ratified Nchito as DPP despite revelations that he forged a judgement? Where was Newton Nguni? He had not find someone to hire his services?
Our desire is that when people commit crimes, they should be prosecuted once the committing of that crime has been known. That way, accused persons are guaranteed of a fair trial. People should not be arrested and prosecuted when presidents and allegiances change. People should be arrested for committing crimes not for being opponents of sitting presidents.
When Nchito was DPP, he was extremely powerful. That is why we tried to examine whatever he did against citizens. When he caused the arrest of Rupiah Banda, we examined his motives. Our interest was to see if Rupiah Banda would get a fair trial despite all the evidence against him. We were not motivated by Rupiah Banda’s innocence. We do not know if he was but we suspect he is guilty. But that is for a competent, impartial tribunal to say. And despite all the lies and innuendoes thrown at us, we never got any money from Rupiah Banda. you can ask him or we challenge him to state whom he gave now that he sees us as enemies.
It is not possible to get a fair trial and therefore justice if a person is tried by social, political or other types of enemies. Nchito is today being tried by his enemies. That defeats the whole purpose of a trial. They can as well just stone him without going through that mockery they call tribunal. We all know that the judgement has already been fixed. It has been predetermined by Edgar Lungu and Rupiah Banda. Just look at the members of the Tribunal. Ernest Sakala was hounded out office by Nchito and others after he, Sakala, received stolen money from late Fredrick Chiluba. Sakala is in that tribunal to revenge. We actually find it very nauseating that those old judges who are expected to understand the principles of bias, real and apparent could refuse to recuse themselves when doubts about their bias has been so eloquently raised.
Why should Nchito be tried in dark corners? What is it that those three judges do not want members of the public to hear? It is not an established principal that an open hearing is a bedrock of a fair trial? Nchito is not an under age child whose identity must be protected by holding his trial in chambers. This is one trial that has generated public interest and it should have been held in public. Nchito should have been allowed to face his accusers in an open court. The fact that those old men want to conduct the hearing in secret just shows how dark their motives are.
Sakwiba Sikota wrote on his facebook that some individuals who opposed the appointment of Nchito as DPP are now calling for his canonisation. He finds it surprising that people who opposed Nchito three years ago are now supporting him. But Sikota cannot be expected to see any innocence in Nchito. He has vested interest. Nchito has been in the forefront of prosecuting Sikota’s biggest paying client Rupiah Banda. So Sikota’s interest is to save Rupiah Banda from Nchito. And since to save his client from court is proving difficult, hounding out Nchito from the office of DPP seems the most attractive method for Sikota. Unlike the other people Sikota is accusing of having changed after three years, it is difficult for him to change because his interest is financial. Charles Milupi and Hakainde Hichilema whom Sikota accuses of having changed after three years opposed the appointment of Nchito on principle and depending on the information they possessed. But Sikota’s opposition was purchasing at a high price. He is not free to change his mind even if he has been availed more information and circumstances have changed.
Nothing said above can be construed to mean that we are saying Nchito is innocent. All we are saying is that even if Nchito were innocent, under this current tribunal, Nchito would not get a fair hearing and will be found guilty. That is not the type of trash we support. It is better Nchito walks free than receives injustice.
Our philosophy is to scrutinise government action and policy. We stand by those who find themselves facing a brutal regime like the PF. Right now Nchito is a weak person and facing the mighty power of government. We have no vested interest in any individual. We serve the public. If that is difficulty to understand, then we have a bigger problem. When Henry Kapoko was arrested for dipping his sticky fingers in public resources, we supported his prosecution because it appeared to us that he would get a fair trial and he was not being pursued by politicians.
When Edgar Lungu and others were denying Rupiah Banda his passport to travel outside Zambia, we sympathised with him and told off Lungu and his friends. And Rupiah now thinks we are his enemies. Has he forgotten how he used to cry to us? When Fred M’membe was controlling Michael Sata, we were on him and we coined the term ‘cartel’ which some people are now championing. But M’membe is now a weak journalist and we shall not join the Judas Iscariots calling for his blood. Out interest and focus is on those people who are controlling government now. Rupiah Banda is a shadow president so he is back on our watch list. That is how we work. We watch government because government is powerful and uses public resources. It is not for us to advocate for revenge. Ours is to advocate for accountability.