Mutembo Nchito must go, says Elias Chipimo

PRESS STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE NATIONAL RESTORATION PARTY ELIAS CHIPIMO JUNIRO FOLLOWING THE SUSPENSION OF JUDGES BY THE REPUBLICAN PRESIDENT “SUSPENDING JUSTICE”

NEARLY 4 YEARS AGO, I MADE THE CHOICE TO ENTER THE POLITICAL ARENA. AT THAT TIME, I MADE A COMMITMENT TO MYSELF AND TO THE ZAMBIAN PEOPLE THAT NEITHER I NOR THE PARTY I HELPED TO ESTABLISH (AS LONG AS I WOULD LEAD IT) WOULD SUCCUMB TO PLAYING “POLITICS AS USUAL”.

THERE ARE ENOUGH POLITICIANS ON THE SCENE THAT ARE PREPARED TO PLAY BY THE SAME OLD RULES AND USE THE SAME TRIED, TESTED AND FAILED APPROACHES OF THE PAST AND MY INTENTION WAS CERTAINLY NOT TO ADD TO THEIR NUMBER.

I COMMITTED MYSELF TO BEING A NEW TYPE OF POLITICIAN FOR OUR NATION – A LEADER THAT WOULD NOT FOCUS ON PERSONALITY, VINDICTIVENESS OR ENVY, BUT A LEADER THAT WOULD BASE HIS POLITICS ON ISSUES; A LEADER THAT WOULD ALWAYS BE READY TO LISTEN, LEARN AND GROW. I COMMITTED OUR MOVEMENT, THE NATIONAL RESTORATION PARTY, TO OFFERING CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM TO WHICHEVER GOVERNMENT WOULD BE IN POWER. WE SET OUT TO DO THIS BY ACKNOWLEDGING THE POSITIVE ACTIONS OF THE INCUMBENT ADMINISTRATION AND POINTING OUT THE THINGS THAT THEY TEND TO DO WRONG WHILE ALWAYS OFFERING AN ALTERNATIVE APPROACH WHENEVER WE CRITICISE THEM.

4 YEARS AND ONE GENERAL ELECTION LATER, I REMAIN AS COMMITTED TO THESE IDEALS TODAY AS I WAS THEN, IF NOT MORE SO. IT IS WITH THAT SAME CONVICTION THAT I SPEAK TO YOU TODAY ON A MATTER THAT I BELIEVE COULD, IF NOT HANDLED CORRECTLY, RESULT IN THE SLOW BUT STEADY EROSION OF A VITAL ARM RESPONSIBLE FOR PROTECTING OUR HARD WON DEMOCRACY: OUR JUDICIARY.

THE APPOINTMENT BY PRESIDENT MICHAEL SATA OF A JUDICIAL TRIBUNAL TO LOOK INTO THE ACTIONS OF A JUDGE OF THE SUPREME COURT AND 2 JUDGES OF THE HIGH COURT COUPLED WITH HIS DECISION TO SUSPEND THESE JUDGES PENDING THE OUTCOME OF THE TRIBUNAL HEARINGS, IS BASED UPON A COMPLAINT FROM PERSONS CONSIDERED PUBLICLY TO BE CLOSE ASSOCIATES OF THE PRESIDENT. LET ME SAY AT THIS POINT THAT CONTRARY TO WHAT THEY OR ANY OTHER PERSON MAY BELIEVE OR THINK, I HAVE NO PERSONAL FIGHT OR ANY KIND OF SCORE TO SETTLE WITH MUTEMBO NCHÍTO OR THE POST NEWSPAPERS.

I AM SIMPLY A SON OF THE SOIL WHO IS READY TO STAND UP FOR THE THINGS THAT I BELIEVE IN. MY INTENTION IS NOT TO GRAB HEADLINES FOR THE SAKE OF PUBLICITY BUT TO TOUCH HEARTS AND HELP PEOPLE TO SEE THAT THE CHANGE THEY NEED LIES WITHIN THEMSELVES; WITHIN EACH AND EVERY ONE OF US THAT IS WILLING TO MAKE A POSITIVE DIFFERENCE IN THE COMMUNITIES IN WHICH WE LIVE. FROM THE CORRESPONDENCE MADE PUBLIC TO DATE, THERE CAN BE LITTLE DOUBT THAT THE PREVIOUS ADMINISTRATION (INDEED SOME OF THE VERY PEOPLE SEEKING TO CENSURE MR. SATA’S ACTIONS TODAY) ATTEMPTED TO USE THE COURTS AND OUR SYSTEM OF JUSTICE TO SETTLE POLITICAL SCORES WITH THEIR PERCEIVED ENEMIES AND POLITICAL DETRACTORS.

TO CLEAR SOME OF THE CONFUSION SURROUNDING THIS ISSUE, WE CAN ASK A FEW QUESTIONS: DID MUTEMBO NCHITO, JNC HOLDINGS (A COMPANY OWNED BY MUTEMBO AND NCHIMA NCHITO) AND THE POST NEWSPAPERS ARRANGE FINANCE FROM THE DEVELOPMENT BANK OF ZAMBIA (DBZ) – A GOVERNMENT-OWNED INSTITUTION – TO SHORE UP AN AIRLINE THEY HAD INVESTED IN AND WHICH MONEY HAS REMAINED UNPAID TO DATE? YES. WERE THEY THE VICTIMS OF A PLOT BY THE PREVIOUS ADMINISTRATION TO DISCREDIT THEM FOR POLITICAL ENDS USING THIS DEBT OBLIGATION?

THE EVIDENCE MADE AVAILABLE SO FAR WOULD SUGGEST SO. DOES THIS JUSTIFY THE USE OF PRESIDENTIAL POWERS UNDER THE CONSTITUTION TO UNEARTH THE PLOT? PROBABLY NOT. BUT IF THE TRIBUNAL IS ABLE TO CLEAR THE AIR ON POSSIBLE CORRUPTION WITHIN THE JUDICIARY, THE ENDS MAY JUSTIFY THE MEANS.

THE LONG-TERM IMPLICATIONS, HOWEVER, MAY BE THE EFFECT THIS HAS ON THE ABILITY OF THE JUDICIARY TO DISPENSE JUSTICE WITHOUT FEAR OR FAVOUR. WE MUST REMEMBER THAT THIS IS NOT ABOUT WHETHER THE PRESIDENT HAS ACTED WITHIN THE LAW. THIS IS ABOUT WHETHER HE HAS USED HIS POWERS APPROPRIATELY AND IF HE HAS NOT, THE IMPLICATIONS OF SUCH ACTION.

FOR EXAMPLE, THE PRESIDENT CLEARLY HAS POWER TO FORGIVE ANY PERSON OF ANY CRIME. BUT IF HE WAS TO EXERCISE THESE POWERS TO FORGIVE A RELATIVE OF THE CRIME OF MULTIPLE MURDER, THIS WOULD BE CONSIDERED AN ABUSE OF HIS POWER. SO BARRING A LEGAL CHALLENGE, THE TRIBUNAL WILL SIT.

THROUGH THE TRIBUNAL HEARINGS, THE PUBLIC WILL HAVE A CHANCE TO DETERMINE IF THE PRESIDENT HAS USED THE LAW TO PROTECT POLITICAL FRIENDS OR ACTED IN THE INTEREST OF REMOVING A STRAIN OF CORRUPTION WITHIN THE JUDICIARY. IT IS POSSIBLE THAT BOTH OF THESE ISSUES ARE AT PLAY (NAMELY THAT THE ALLEGED CORRUPTION HAS JUSTIFIED THE PROTECTION OF THE PRESIDENT’S POLITICAL ALLIES).

WHATEVER THE BACKGROUND TO THE PRESIDENT’S DECISION, IN ORDER TO COMPLETE THE MATRIX OF FACTS, CERTAIN QUESTIONS NEED TO BE ANSWERED:

(1) DID ANY SENIOR GOVERNMENT MINISTER OR HIGH RANKING JUDICIAL OFFICER ISSUE ANY DIRECTIVES TO THE DEVELOPMENT BANK OF ZAMBIA TO STAY OR SUSPEND PROCEEDINGS AGAINST THE DPP (IN HIS PERSONAL CAPACITY), POST NEWSPAPERS AND JNC HOLDINGS – PERSONS (OR ENTITIES OWNED BY PERSONS) PUBLICLY SEEN AS BEING CLOSE TO THE PRESIDENT?;

(2) IF THE PEOPLE LODGING THE COMPLAINT HAD NOT BEEN CLOSE ASSOCIATES OF THE PRESIDENT, WOULD HE HAVE TAKEN THIS ACTION?; AND

(3) SHOULD A PERSON EMBROILED IN SUCH A CONTROVERSY NOT BE CONSIDERING HIS POSITION TO CONTINUE TO ACT AS DPP, ESPECIALLY WHEN THE AGENCY RESPONSIBLE FOR CRIMINAL PROSECUTIONS AND OVER WHICH HE PRESIDES HAS BEEN DISCONTINUING MATTERS AGAINST THE PROPRIETOR OF A BANK THAT HE OR ENTITIES IN WHICH HE HAS SHAREHOLDING OWE MONEY; MONEY CONNECTED TO THE VERY CASE THAT HAS PROMPTED THE TRIBUNAL HEARINGS? THE INVOCATION OF THE POWERS OF THE PRESIDENT TO CONVENE A TRIBUNAL UNDER ARTICLE 98 OF THE CONSTITUTION IS A SERIOUS UNDERTAKING THAT SHOULD NOT BE EMBARKED UPON LIGHTLY. IN THE SCHEME OF THINGS, HOWEVER, IT IS PROBABLY BETTER TO WEED OUT ANY PERCEIVED CORRUPTION IN THE JUDICIARY EVEN IF THIS COINCIDES WITH THE PROTECTION OF POLITICAL FRIENDS OF THE PRESIDENT.

WE MUST NOT LOSE SIGHT, HOWEVER, OF THE OUTSTANDING OBLIGATION OF THE DEBT OWED TO DBZ AND THE NEED FOR AN IMPARTIAL CONCLUSION OF THIS MATTER. IN THE FINAL ANALYSIS, IF THIS IS THE CASE THAT HELPS ZAMBIA TO BEGIN TO CLEANSE A TROUBLED JUDICIARY, THEN SOMETHING POSITIVE MAY YET EMERGE FROM THIS SORRY SAGA.

WE JUST NEED TO BE CLEAR THAT IN THE CLEANSING PROCESS WE DO NOT END UP CREATING SUCH FEAR IN THE JUDICIARY THAT WE DAMAGE THE PARTS OF IT THAT DO UPHOLD JUSTICE WITH INTEGRITY AND COMPETENCE. AN INESCAPABLE CONCLUSION, WHATEVER THE OUTCOME OF THE TRIBUNAL HEARINGS, IS THAT THE CURRENT DPP CANNOT IN THE LIGHT OF THE CONFLICTING POSITION HE FINDS HIMSELF IN, CONTINUE HIS DAILY RESPONSIBILITIES IN OFFICE. WHETHER NOW OR IN THE FUTURE, HE MUST RESIGN. AT THIS STAGE THE VERY LEAST HE SHOULD DO IS STAND ASIDE AND TAKE LEAVE PENDING THE FINDINGS OF THE TRIBUNAL.

Share this post