Lies – a Response to Post newspaper’s editorial comment- “MMD and constitution”

Dear Mr Fred M’membe

People Driven Constitution- PF’s Top Priority  

It is your ill conceived argument against a new constitution, that it is a bad idea to prioritize it because only those who are seeking power and realignment of forces are in a hurry to enact it. “That what matters to them is the 50 percent plus 1, the running mate clause and all such matters that have to do with power or facilitating their access to power.” According to you, the omnipotent one-who can read other peoples minds, our demand is not even about what the constitution will do for the Zambian people. This is indeed the view of a charlatan standing on the shifting sands of evasion.

I Confession- Am Guilty as Charged

As for me, let me clearly put it on record and boldly admit it; Yes, you are right that this is about power and access to power. But not for me or for the MMD or for any other member of the opposition. This is about limiting the enormous power that Presidents and their lieutenants have and tenaciously hold on to under this constitution. It is about providing greater checks and balances to those that seek and abuse power in order to prevent their countrymen and women from freely assembling; exercising their freedom of speech and expression and denying them equal protection under the law. The enactment of a new constitution is about strengthening the other two wings of government (the Legislature and the Judiciary) so that the executive can be restrained from being preoccupied with compromising the Judicial system and holding both parliament and traditional rulers hostage.

Yes, this constitution is important because it will ensure that we have in place a majority elected president who does not get into State House with a sliver of 29, 30 or 41 percent of the popular vote. Yes, this is important because it is about a running mate who cannot be fired simply because he or she takes a contrary view to the President, either in cabinet or in parliament. Yes, this is about access to power by the rightful owners of that power and not self appointed Emperors, conspiring with their courtyard jesters, who are constantly urging them to do the wrong things. No Sir, there is no longer room for perceived egotistic  little tin pot dictators, abusing their media influence to lend credibility and legitimacy to a government bent on denying its Citizens the much awaited Bill of Rights and rights towards economic emancipation.

It is, therefore, shameful that you can create a justification and advise President Michael Sata that the current constitution is for the moment acceptable. I find it most disturbing when you state as follows; “We urge the Patriotic Front Government and its supporters not to be swayed by noise but to rationally set priorities in accordance with the needs and demands of the poor and the most disadvantaged of our people. If the opposition and its supporters want to make the constitution review process their key campaign issue, then the Patriotic Front would be wise to just put everything on hold until the 2016 elections.”

Firstly, you need to be reminded that this was one of the key campaign issues of the last elections of 2011 and one which rallied all the Church mother bodies and their flocks, the Civil Society and the NGO’s, the Law Association of Zambia (LAZ), the trade unions and the youth movement to shift their support away from the MMD to the PF. You need to be reminded that the PF used this as a campaign issue that played a significant role towards their victory in 2011. I would like to believe that this is the reason why President Sata repeated this promise while he was taking his oath of office; unless you are suggesting that President Sata is beyond understating the implication of holding a bible in his hand and swearing to deliver upon this promise. No Sir, this matter was already clearly decided upon and can therefore not be another election issue for 2016. Ikona Man; IKONA

Wake Up and Smell the Coffee

You need to wake up to the reality that as things now stand, all the above groups, together with the opposition, who obtained more then 51 percent of the popular vote, have all demanded that they want their people driven constitution by way of a referendum in this Jubilee year of 2014. Who are you to suggest that all these groups are noise makers of ill intent and are ‘dubious people who want to hijack the constitution?  The majority can never be hijackers. On the contrary, however, the PF with a hand full of its supporters and you as their chief Vuvuzela; can correctly be labelled as pirates and hijackers of ill intent. What sort of backwardness and malice do you want to propagate in this country?

Catholic Bishops /Option for the Poor.

 As for you pretentious argument on behalf  of the needs and demands of the poor and most disadvantaged of our people,  please be remind that at every turn when the Catholic Bishops have voiced their opinion, through their pastoral letters, towards bad governance and bad economic policy direction, you have hailed them as the voice of the voiceless. The champions of the great majority of the disadvantaged. Yet, in the current set of circumstances, you have attempted to dismiss the same Bishops due to the fact that the Bishops held a press conference in which their concern was strongly expressed about the arrogance of the PF government and their inability to be truthful in regard to the Constitutional making process. The Bishops expressed concern at the deteriorating situation in the lives of the ordinary Zambian citizen in regard to their Social, economic and governance situation. Your reaction has been, first, to attempt diluting the message of the Clergy in general and subsequently to condescendingly lecture to them about what type of dialogue you think they should be promoting.

This is indicative of a pathological problem emanating from a delusional sense of self importance. It is my contention that the position you have taken on this matter on the constitution is a danger to this country’s progress and that you should seriously reconsider your most unsolicited arrogant stand. Why don’t you do something positive with your influence over President Sata and encourage him to begin the process of reconciliation and dialogue with all the other stakeholders. This was the primary message of the Catholic Bishops.

We, the People of Zambia, want the Draft Constitution to be released immediately, a Referendum Commission put in place and a people driven constitution delivered as a well earned gift for our jubilee celebrations in October 2014. Please communicate this message to your Masters. Our patients has been overstretched and tested by the shifting sands of evasion, on the part of the PF government. Our pragmatism has been overpowered by empirical evidence indicating that the President does not want a new constitution and our prudence has been challenged by our moral intuition indicating bad faith on the part of those given the instruments of power to govern us properly.

Like a Spiders caught in its own web

Let me now turn to an issue of exercising my moral obligation to correct the impression you are attempting to create by insinuating that the law removing bail for theft of motor vehicles was enacted to target President Michael Sata. You state as follows and I quote;

And we shouldn’t forget that it is this same MMD that enacted a law just to fix one person-the law removing bail for motor vehicle theft. And today, they preach to the Zambian people about their opposition to draconian law! What type of Hypocrisy is this? What type of dishonesty is this? 

 Quite clearly, you have deliberately left an open ended statement in the above accusation in order to imply that ‘the one to be fixed person’ was President Michael Sata. You attempt to achieve this by cleverly crafting a statement in which you ‘give information or withhold information, or in fact give disinformation to the extent that it helps your conclusion. In fact in one of your editorials you actually do state that Michael Sata was arrested and victimized by Levy Patrick Mwanawasa. You make it sound as if it was just an accusation when in fact the famous 100 days incarceration of President Sata was on a specific charge of theft of motor vehicle.

The fact that the law was changed is not in dispute. What is in dispute is the insinuation of the possible perpetrators of this abuse of human rights and who the possible target was? So, let us try to untangle this accusation by providing the official argument given by the government at that time. The historical context was that there was a spate of motor vehicle thefts, accordingly, being perpetrated by a cartel of East African business men of Asian origin.  These businessmen were in the habit of using Zambian small time crooks, who would quickly be granted bail upon being apprehended and arrested by the police. Investigations had revealed that their wealthy ‘Pay Masters’ (the Cartel) could quickly raise the money to meet their bail conditions. Accordingly, these individuals, and while on bail, would go right back into their old ways and steal some more vehicles. It was argued that the only way to slow them down was to punish them and let them languish in jail by denying them bail. The hope was that theses detained individuals would then be forced to expose their pay masters. This was the official version.

However, there was an unofficial and more succulent version of events. This ‘juicy’ version was fanned by the private media, including the post newspapers. As most people would recollect, this version propagated that the law was actually amended in order to deal with a local business man known as Duncan Mallie, alias Archibald Macriboy, who was said to have personally offended the then holder of the highest office in the land. It was alleged that since he could not be incarcerated openly on suspicion of an offence regarding a matrimonial matter, levelled against him, the only solution was to punish him by arresting him for motor vehicle theft and subsequently denying him bail. (Macriboy-being a know motor vehicle dealer) A clean way to exact a Machiavellian revenge in a tall tale told in Shakespearean Pros.

Secondly, it is important to note that this law was passed some time in the year 2000, when President Michael Sata was a member of MMD Cabinet, then holding the position of Minister without Portfolio. Although, the Minister of Justice then, Honourable Vincent Malambo was against this law, as being against human rights, President Sata was in full support of it. When Vernon Mwaanga aired his views against the law, and was subsequently accused of trying to defend a known relative of his, President Michael Sata, was in full support of the proposed amendment.

The Minister without Portfolio never raised any objections on the enactment of this law until he was snared by it, much later,  on the accusation that he had converted two vehicles from the Ministry of Works and Supply to his personal use; a matter of poetic justice indeed. You and your Post newspapers are very much alive to these circumstances but lack the backbone, during the current dispensation to tell the truth to power. Instead you chose to use part of the truth to cast blame on the wrong people.

It must be noted, that President Mwanawasa was not a member of Cabinet at the time the law was enacted. According to Mwanawasa, by that time, President Sata, had already provided a unique solution towards assisting Levy’s departure from the Cabinet. It also must be noted that neither Rupiah Banda nor Nevers Mumba were part of this Cabinet or were even members of the MMD at that time. Equally, Dr Michael Kaingu, Dr Brian Chituwo and the vast majority of those now serving in the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the MMD were neither in Cabinet nor the NEC.

Your expectations that those who were responsible for breaching people’s human rights and later becoming victims of their own machination should be exonerated, while the men and women who were nowhere near the scene of the injustice should now be held responsible, and  told to shut up, is a total affront to justice. This is an insult to the concept of probity and accountability. How can you attempt to make the victimizer into the victim, the offender into a Hero? What a rewrite of History your editorials are? Incredible?

 In conclusion, Sir, you and the Post Newspapers, having known and reported on all these events, can equally be interrogated and asked the same question you throw at all of us: What type of Hypocrisy is this? What type of dishonesty is this? What type of lack of shame is this? What kind of opportunism is this?

 Mr Editor in Chief of the Post Newspapers, are you the type of person we should all be listening to? I think not

I thank you for taking time to read my letter and please expect my third letter to you on “Why is MMD opposed to Sata’s INDECO idea”

Muhabi Lungu-Concerned Zambian Citizen

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