30th January 2014
Mr Fred Mmembe
Editor in Chief and Managing Director
The Post News Paper
P/Bag E352, Plot No 36
Roads Park, Lusaka
RE: LIES-A Response To Post Newspaper’s Editorial Comment-“MMD and constitution”
Even though my first humble request, made more than a week ago, that you provide room in your newspaper to afford me the right of reply was completely and loudly ignored, it is still my modest request that you reconsider my persistence towards my right at a fair representation. I now feel compelled to write you my second letter, in order to respond to many of your inaccurate observations, falsehoods, propaganda statements and sometimes outright lies that are contained in many of your editorial comments. It is still my hope, although no longer my belief, that you will live up to your own words of having a ‘sense of justice or fairness in your heart’. My plea for mercy, ignored by denying me this essential right, is on your part an abuse of media power
Today, I wish to make comment regarding your editorial of Monday January 6, 2014 in which your chosen subject was “MMD and the Constitution.” It is quite clear from your editorial comment that the primary focus and preoccupation was to question the MMD’s moral right to make comment or demands. I, however, wish to put it to you, that the direction you have chosen is not only parochial, but childish, vengeful, and dangerous as it is intended to divert public debate from the important and popular demand for a people driven Constitution; A promise made by the President of the Patriotic Front (PF), Mr Michael Chilufya Sata, while taking his oath of office (With a Bible in his hands) at the swearing in ceremony as Republican President on the 23rd of September 2011. Additionally, this solemn promise was repeated by President Michael Sata at his first address during the opening of the 11th Session of the National Assembly.
In your shrewd judgement, President Michael Sata’s Biblical Oath and the right of claim on him, by the people of Zambia, for him to honour, fulfil and obey it, is of little consequential value. In you received wisdom it is by far more important, paramount and significant that you remind the people of Zambia and the MMD of their alleged failures. By any measure of comparison, within the scales of fairness and Justice, even within the purchase of goods in commercial transactions, the enormous weight of significance or price by which you tilt towards vilifying the MMD is truly incredible and astounding. It is cynical and sinister at best. Nevertheless, and for the moment, I will not put up a defence of the MMD’s record on this matter because this would be losing the plot, as you have so frequently done over the years. On the other hand, I do take issue with your attempt at trivializing the overwhelming demand by the great majority of the Zambian people for a people driven Constitution by way of a referendum.
Secondly, I believe that it is shameful and deceitful for you to exonerate members of the current PF government in our collective failures as a country to deliver a Constitution in the last 20 years. This will be the primary thrust of my second letter to you in my attempt at correcting your insidious propaganda. In the same vain, I also feel that it is my moral obligation to correct the impression you are trying to create, in this same editorial of January 6th, by apportioning responsibility to the current leadership of the MMD, while exonerating President Michael Sata in the enactment of a law removing bail for motor vehicle theft. In you continuous attempt at proving some form of unforgivable MMD hypocrisy, you state the following; 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? What type of lack of shame is this? Are these the people we should listen to?”
Sir, by the time I conclude my discourse on the more important matter of the constitution and on your twisting of events of the motor vehicle theft law, I intend to prove to you and all fair minded readers of this letter and column, that it is you who lacks shame, is dishonest, hypocritical and that no one in his or her right frame of mind should listen to you.
MMD and the Constitution
In your editorial, you indicate that MMD’s record on the constitution making process is very bad since “this is a political party which, for twenty years, failed to come up with an acceptable constitution” in total disregard of the recommendations of the constitutional review commission it had initiated. Your point out that in the process, over K200 billion was spent and wasted. You smugly fault the MMD for amending the constitution in 1996 with the sole aim of barring Dr Kaunda from contesting the presidential election of that year. “No one had a say in the changes they made. Everything was simply decided by Chiluba and those close to him. They ignored all the public criticism of what they had done.” Consequently, you arrive at the conclusion that if the MMD had any sense of justice in their hearts, they would have serious difficulties speaking on this issue. “What type of people are these?” You ask.
Hypocrisy and Dishonesty at its very best.
It is my request that in your attempt to answer ‘what type of people these are?’ that you, yourself, be sincere, honest and fair minded in pointing out exactly who these individuals were. That you acknowledge that in the most turbulent period of the constitution making process; the barring of Dr Kaunda; his attempted deportation to Malawi; the arrest of innocent victims both in the Zero Option, and the Black Maamba; the attempted assassination of Dr Kaunda; the attempt to amend the constitution for a third term; etc- that the key player and those who you refer to as being, ‘those close to him’ were led by non other than President Chiluba’s most favoured right hand man in the name of Michael Chilufya Sata.
In fact, in your zeal to obliterate the contribution of President Rupiah Banda to this country, by contrasting him with your highly placed rating of President Levy Mwanawasa, you always conveniently fail to remind us ‘forgetful’ Zambians that Vice President Mwanawasa, resigned from the Cabinet citing alleged corrupt activities of Mr Michael Chilufya Sata-then The Minister without Portfolio. These are historical facts, which in your wildest imagination and desire cannot be wished away. These facts will stand no matter how hard you attempt to change history in order to please your new master. I think, at this point, you need to be reminded that two more letters for you are coming and hence more will be said about this matter in my last letter to you on your editorial entitled ‘Sticking to the Corrupt.’
A Constant Historical Reminder
t is a fact and a historical anomaly that the current Vice President of the Republic of Zambia, Dr Guy Scott, cannot today act as President of the Republic of Zambia. This is because of the machinations in which President Sata, primarily, and others in the PF, such as Mr Winter Kabimba, were involved and should therefore have the backbone to take full responsibility. It is deceit of the highest order for you to insinuate that Dr Nevers Mumba, Dr Michael Kaingu, or Dr Chituwo, should take responsibility for these failures while President Michael Sata and his accomplices go scot free. This is just like you- wanting Rupiah Banda and Dr Kaingu to take responsibility for amending the law removing bail for theft of motor vehicle! I say unto you brethren that the evil machinations of the robber will always claim the life of the robber. ‘So are the ways of everyone who is greedy for gain; it takes away the life of its owner.’ Proverbs 1:19
As it concerns the second phase of the constitutional making process, during President Mwanawasa’s and President Rupiah Banda’s administrations, we in the MMD have taken full responsibility for the failed process. We are guilty, the people of Zambia punished us for it and perhaps more importantly, we have apologized for it. However, you should be decent enough to also acknowledge that peoples demands in regard to putting the process within a legal framework (The NCC Act) was agreed to as was the holding of a version of the Constitutional Assembly. This is by far more than what can be said for the (PF) for whom you have become the official apologist. Why are you are trying to provide excuses for them? Why are you apologizing for their failure to honour even the most basic minimum of what they undertook to do?
In as much as we accept our shortcomings in the failed NCC Constitutional process, it is only fair in God’s eyes that the PF and the United Party For National Development (UPND) should equally take some share of responsibility for either boycotting the process and expelling twenty two (22) of its members and or walking out of the House when a vote on the Constitutional Bill was called. To ask that the MMD should be the only political party to take full responsibility, while others walk away scot free, and into the sunset, is promoting national irresponsibility and hypocrisy of the worst kind. We can not build a strong and sustainable society on such blatant falsehoods; where all the dirt is thrown on one of the players while the other accomplices wash their hands clean and triumphantly work away. Solving a problem often begins with everyone concerned accepting their part in making it.
Platform for correcting our collective mistakes
All of us have to take collective responsibility, accept our mistakes and seek to collectively correct out failures. That is why I can proudly and firmly say to you, with all sincerity and honesty, that the MMD has every right to put due pressure on our friends in the PF, who have been in power for over two years now to deliver a people driven Constitution. I am completely convinced that this is a realistic demand, because President Sata and the PF promised to deliver the constitution in 90 days. It is not your call, nor do you have any appointed authority to give the PF latitude to “take their time and do their work in a manner” they please.
Consequently, it is with a sense of justice and fairness in our hearts, that the MMD claims its right to speak on this issue and help our colleagues to correct that which we failed to achieve. We ask for no more than what the PF promised. On the other hand, it is an act most treacherous on your part to seek to provide excuses by stating that “we have held four general elections under this constitution” and to subsequently proclaim that the “constitution review is certainly not a priority issue number one to the majority of our people.” Who are you to pontificate that given a choice between the constitution as opposed to schools and hospitals, people would decide the latter? By what scientific methodology have you arrived at this definitive conclusion? Please Sir; this is the type of “Habitual self deception that makes one lose touch with reality.” For I tell you that Nobody, Nobody, is asking President Sata to stop building schools. He is not the first to build schools and hospitals in this country; neither will he be the last.
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
End of Part I