SACCORD Press statement – 28th July 2010
It’s clearly becoming evident that the MMD government of President Rupiah Banda has strong similarities with the apartheid regime in South Africa through its continuous legislation aimed at protecting few of its leaders at the expense of the majority of Zambians. The current government has continued to create farcical legislation and the intended purpose of such legislation is evidently motivated by the desire to serve personal interests of those who are part of the current establishment or support it. They have deliberately undermined or ignored well meaning efforts by citizens to institute good laws that will take into account the interests of the general population of this country just for their own sake.
There are a number of questionable laws that this government has enacted which are just aimed at frustrating efforts that will ensure that they are held accountable. There are numerous examples of such laws. The government’s enactment of the NGO law which is clearly intended to suppress and make it hard for NGOs to operate in Zambia and hold government accountable, the media regulation government intends to enact and the new proposals to remove the abuse of office clause from the ACC. All this can only be equaled to the moves by the apartheid regime in South Africa which legislated against all legal for means challenging government’s unfair practices and stifled the freedoms of assembly, association and expression for the black people of that country
It’s sad and disheartening that our leaders want to rule by law instead of the rule of law. When a state begins to make laws for the sake of ruling instead of having laws which are relevant and appreciated by all citizens, then such a government is no longer relevant. Zambia needs progressive laws that will protect the citizens and not laws aimed at protecting criminal acts like the current government is doing. Citizens need laws that will fulfill their enjoyment of their rights without necessarily having the state to be on their shoulders all the time. It is the obligation of the state to ensure that the citizen’s democratic rights and freedoms are guaranteed.
Recent actions by the government are worrying in that this government is now seeking to make what has been illegal all the time legal and thereby protect those of its friends who have continuously been accused of abusing state resources and unfortunately even the NCC is being used to squeeze into the new constitution such uncanny laws as the immunity clause.
Zambians know that the MMD government has been giving contracts to its supporters as can be seen from the revelations last year when the then MMD deputy national secretary Mr. Jeff Kaande asked the permanent secretary in the ministry of Home Affairs to pay suppliers because they were supporters of the ruling party. Today we have the Phillips contract; we had the Zamtel evaluation and sale deal as well as the radar contract at the Lusaka international airport. There are also allegations MMD officials as well as politicians in government are doing business with government which are clear violations of our current laws. Those elected in power should not make their tenure a merry making or rip off time but they should use the opportunity to meet the aspirations of the citizens.
As SACCORD we believe that there is no need for weakening the law on abuse of office rather there is need to strengthen such kind of laws as they help in ensuring that those who are given the responsibility of looking after the affairs of the country do so with the highest levels of integrity and selflessness. We find the arguments by Mr. Mulongoti and Mr. Chilembo on the removal of the abuse of office clause from the ACC act as attempts to justify and legalize theft and abuse of public resources.