Sata and the sharks circling around him

By George Lubasi

The journey to the presidency is a long one. Those that embark on it need all the support in order to get to the top. Michael Sata is no exception. His journey to the presidency is one of admirable determination. No one can take that away from him. He has now arrived at the top. As a consequence, he is heavily indebted to so many people that helped him get where he is today. It is only right and in fact human to pay back those that supported him. It is a moral imperative.

So no matter how much Sata thinks of himself as a powerful figure, he is a captive of the people that supported him; he is a puppet who, when asked to jump, must not just jump but also ask how high he must exceed the expected limit. The Post newspaper supported Sata and offered him exclusive coverage; they even rehabilitated him from the ‘Ukwa of Zambia’ they called him a few years ago to the man they now patronizingly refer to simply as Michael. How much Sata has rewarded The Post is well known. But it doesn’t end there.
But then Sata’s debt to The Post will soon consume him.
That is a must. It may not be today, tomorrow or the week after, but it surely will.  Sata has now started playing with State institutions to please his masters at The Post. That is an excess Zambians must be alive to. The common argument being bandied around is that by appointing the tribunal to probe the three suspended judges, Sata has acted within the law. That is not what is important. You can act within the law but still commit an injustice.  In this case, Sata has used the law to protect The Post and all those connected with this case. If someone else had walked up to Sata and told him what they told him about how allegedly corrupt the judges are, would he have acted with the same speed?
The allegation facing the suspended judges is that they misconducted themselves. Fair enough.  If the judges are corrupt, they must pay for it. But judges must not be the sacrificial lambs in a bid to protect Sata’s friends. If it was misconduct to transfer the case from Judge Albert Wood to Judge Nigel Mutuna, then we can also ask whether it was not misconduct for Judge Wood not to have declared interest in handling the matter when he was well aware that Fred M’membe was his friend. We should also ask why M’membe and his league were insistent on having their case heard by Judge Wood. Since when did those dragged to court start choosing which judge should hear their case? What were they looking for? Justice or favours?
The case of Zambia Airways owing DBZ went to court when the MMD were in power. On that account alone, M’membe and his cohorts argued that they were being persecuted; that Rupiah was abusing state power to punish them. Hollow as that argument was, they sustained it. The common business principle is that those that borrow must pay back. To cry persecution when you are told to return taxpayers money is being cheeky. So is it by coincidence that DBZ made an attempt to withdraw the case only when Sata, a friend of the debtors, became president of the Republic and therefore in a position to influence decisions at that level? If, on their own, DBZ believed the case was unwinnable, why did they spend all this time in court pursuing it?
If the judiciary is rotten as The Post and their allies have made the world believe, then they are part of the rot because they, through the acts of their friends that now run state institutions, are making decisions that make the judiciary look stupid. If the judiciary is rotten because the case was moved from a judge of their preference to another, then it is also rotten because they want a justice system in which they are tried by their friends. So the rottenness of the judiciary should not be viewed from one lens.
If The Post believe in the diversity of views on this matter, they would not have behaved the way they are behaving. The newspaper is theirs and they can use it as they wish. But if they claim to be democrats they should allow other views to be heard in their newspaper. If they are interested in promoting debate about the need for judicial reforms, they cannot afford only to carry the voice of those that side with their view. All they are reporting about are what their allies say. Even people who are supposed to be independent (or at least pretend to be independent) have swung along. Read what Sishuwa Sishuwa wrote in the Tuesday edition. He sees nothing wrong with what Sata has done. The Post had an opportunity to argue their case in court. They failed. They now want to offer their defence through a newspaper. And what was that drama of publishing all that correspondence? That too will consume them.  We now know that while the case was active in court, they were working behind the scenes, writing letters to their allies to seek favours.
When this man was ratified as DPP last December, I argued on this site that he was unfit to hold that office. Even under the most trying of circumstances, why would the country’s chief prosecutor walk away on a judge? Mutembo did that. He also has a case of forgery. But the Law Association of Zambia has not said a word about this shameful conduct by Mutembo. LAZ are happy that judges have been suspended to pave way for investigation. But they are not similarly demanding that Mutembo steps aside while the tribunal investigates. Why the double standards? In the world of LAZ and The Post, the judiciary is only rotten when it involves the misconduct of other people, not their allies. Mutembo and LAZ are both discredited.
The script for this play was crafted by M’membe and Mutembo.  They then went to Sata and took him through all the drills; they told him how the play would pan out; which legal provisions to quote; they drafted his speech and pretended they had walked away from the stage and see how he would act. Sata has been assigned a role to act and so far he has not disappointed his trainers.  He must have done well during the drills they took him through. He is essentially a pawn they are using to achieve their ultimate end.  The script also extends to how the tribunal chairman must act. That show in Lilongwe was expected. Which judge in his right frame of mind would say, ‘I will be biased’? So by pledging impartiality, Lovemore Chikopa was only saying what anyone else in his position would say. Desperation can expose you to many things. Many ministers around the world are sent by their presidents on various assignments. Sometimes you don’t even hear about it. Sometimes you only hear a terse statement. But in Lilongwe, Edgar Lungu had to be pictured handing over a letter to Chikopa? Where else does that happen?
This tribunal is academic. It will produce the very outcome that the writers of the script intended.  Just wait, that is what will happen. Once that happens, M’membe and Mutembo will then turn and say to Zambia, ‘see, we told you this judiciary was corrupt. We have been vindicated.’ On that day, we will probably have three pages of an editorial. 
Sata may be eager to pay his debt to those that supported him. But what he must know is that using state institutions to pay back his friends will bring him down. Some of those that supported him are cunning. They are sharks circling around him. They know how they took him to the top; they know how to use him whilst he is at the top to achieve their goals. This tribunal is just one of them. But what he must know is that they also know how to bring him down; they know how to kick away the ladder. When that happens, it will be too late to realize how vulnerable was; how the sharks put him in the pond and left him to drown there. That will have afforded Zambians a chance to dispense with him.

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