IT has become a big shame on the image of the country that Rupiah Banda has got the audacity to implement selective justice in the nation, Kafulafuta MMD member of parliament George Mpombo has charged.
And Post editor Fred M’membe said President Banda’s government had now usurped the justice system in the country and was using it for vengeance.
Speaking when he visited M’membe to offer solidarity following his release from jail on bail at The Post offices in Lusaka on Tuesday, Mpombo asked M’membe not to be scared because those against him were just a bunch of desperate people.
“You see, it has become a big shame on the image of the country that Mr Banda has got the audacity to implement selective justice in the nation. You have cases where people still walk the streets free, killing people in Mufumbwe, others shooting people, but this government has not moved in,” he said.
M’membe chipped in saying this was not a justice system for meting out justice.
“They have usurped the justice system and they are using it for vengeance. But this is not new, that is how tyrannical regimes throughout history have operated,” M’membe said. “They have used the justice system to mete out vengeance, to mete out tyranny. Dictatorships do not survive without the connivance of the justice system. They take the justice system and use it for their evil actions, and that is what Mr Rupiah Banda is doing. The office of the DPP has been turned into an office that defends crime; that defends injustice, promotes the worst iniquities you can ever think of. When the Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) called for DPP Chalwe Mchenga to resign, they saw what was happening.”
M’membe said Zambia no longer had a criminal justice system that people could rely on to create a more humane society. He said what they were using now was to create and perpetuate injustice. M’membe said the justice system could not run away from the tyranny and vengeance that was being meted on individuals.
“The courts are being used, the office of the DPP are part of this whole criminal connivance,” M’membe said.
Mpombo told M’membe that he had passed through The Post to give him moral support. He said it was a blemish to see what was happening when people in other nations were advancing in terms of democracy.
Mpombo said the press had a critical role to play in the economic and political development of the country.
He said the amount of desperation from President Banda was unheard of.
“But it is like everybody is hiding their head in the sand because tomorrow they will be dancing to the same music. You know Mr Rupiah Banda will be dancing pelete one of these days. So I think it is unfortunate and I just wanted to say that please soldier on,” Mpombo said. “You have the whole international community behind you. Of course you are a journalist of strong image and background. So what they did is just upgrade your already vibrant image. But please don’t relent. Like one guy said, ‘be bold’. You can see the international community’s reaction.”
And M’membe said he was grateful for Mpombo’s visit, saying he had also been inspired by his works and how he had conducted himself, especially after his resignation as defence minister.
“When you resigned from government, we were all just waiting to hear what they will spill about what Mpombo did, what Mpombo stole. Days passed, weeks passed, months passed, there was nothing. But the venom was still being poured on you. At that point, personally I realised that, ‘no this man has done nothing’,” M’membe said. “And this was confirmed by the case that you are now facing in court which shows clearly that you know they had nothing that they could use to tarnish your reputation, to dent you, to vilify you in all sorts of ways. It told me one thing that if you live an honest life, you will be very free.”
M’membe said many good, very intelligent people were shackled by the evils, crimes and monies they stole from the people.
“Look today we have a very good brain like Dr Katele Kalumba. That is a brilliant individual, well-mannered, highly cultured. But look at what dishonesty has done to him,” M’membe said. “Today Katele doesn’t know whether he is going backwards or he is going in front simply because he is shackled by the wrong things he did. We are faced with a regime that governs by blackmail, that governs by intimidation, that governs by calumny. If your hands are dirty you are totally incapacitated, you cannot take them on. You cannot stand for anything. You can only say what they want you to say.”
M’membe said he hoped many politicians were learning from Mpombo’s example. He said the government had failed to find a little thing that Mpombo did wrong when he served in government.
“If they take you to court over K10 million borrowed from a friend, the state moves in to prosecute you, a debt that you have even paid, settled, they still take you to court to jail you… The intention is to jail or humiliate you over K10 million that you took from a friend. How many people owe friends money?” M’membe asked. “And also the very fact that you went to borrow K10 million just a few months after leaving government shows what type of an honest man you are. It is something that you should be proud of. People should be proud to have nothing when they were in positions they could have used to amass wealth for themselves.”
M’membe said Mpombo was a Minister of Defence and could have been involved in all sorts of arms contracts, getting 10 per cent commission here and there. He said eventually when the truth would be revealed, some people would be found to have gotten some percentage from the military contracts.
“We have no doubt. If not themselves, then their own children,” M’membe said. “We will find them being involved in military contracts and getting cuts which you didn’t get. If you had gotten one ngwee from any supplier to the military, today you would be in jail ba George.”
M’membe said each one was supposed to perform their duties with sufficient integrity and honour. He said people should take only that which was due to them and also give only that which was due to them.
M’membe said if he had stolen as President Banda alleged that The Post pocketed US $30 million, he would not be a free man today.
“So continue to speak on the affairs of your country. You have a duty to do so. You have sufficient education and political experience to do so. You have to make a contribution to the end of your days. There is no retirement from life. As long as you are breathing you have a duty to contribute to the environment under which you exist,” M’membe said. “We still see old people running around. We have the great example of Simon Zukas, an exemplary citizen of this country fighting for this country throughout his life. Simon is 85 this year but he is still engaging himself in the affairs of our country. Simon is not seeking public office. Simon is not looking for government contracts. Simon is not looking for any gain other than the fact that he is a citizen of this country which is his homeland. This is a piece of the world that he has chosen to make his homeland.”
M’membe said it was a Christian duty to look after the environment where God located individuals. He said he was grateful that Mpombo was executing his contribution with sufficient honour and integrity.
M’membe said Mpombo was contributing probably more than he contributed when he served in government.
“You have drastically altered the balance of forces. You have made virtue become a factor in our politics. People are listening to what you are saying. They have tried to make you look like a fool but people know that Mpombo is speaking sense. They are listening everyday,” M’membe said. “So please we are grateful for what you are doing for your country and what you are doing for all of us. It is a great risk to your life, a great risk to the well-being of your family and yourself. We have no doubt you must be facing serious financial problems, serious economic constraints but there you are with your head up, no baggage of theft, no baggage of crime. What you are in court for is not a crime. Whether tomorrow they convict you they are just wasting their time. It won’t take them anywhere.”
M’membe said what those in government were trying to do to Mpombo was the same thing they tried to do to him – imprisonment.
“What have they gained? They have only gained shame and humiliation which they thought they would mete on me. I am walking with my head up, with all the dignity that I can marshal on. They have only helped me to reflect deeply on what it means to be a good citizen, what it means to be a better human being,” said M’membe. “Probably I am a better human being than I was that Friday when they sent me to jail. It helped me to meditate deeply, to reflect deeply on what type of citizen I should be, or what type of a human being I should be. I am placed on this land with other human beings and I owe them a duty of care.”
In response, Mpombo said he was emboldened by the encouragement and wise words of counsel from M’membe.
“And I just want to repeat to say ‘don’t be scared. This is just a bunch of desperate people’,” said Mpombo.
M’membe was on Monday released from Lusaka Central Prison (Chimbokaila) on a K20 million bail.
Last Friday, he was sentenced to four months imprisonment with hard labour as accused number one and four months simple imprisonment as accused number two (for The Post).
This is in a matter in which M’membe and The Post were last Wednesday convicted on a charge of contempt of court arising from the publication of an article in The Post of August 27, 2009 titled: ‘The Chansa Kabwela case: A comedy of Errors’, authored by United States-based Zambian Professor of law Muna Ndulo.