Give Edith Nawakwi and others opportunity they are crying for, send them to jail for contempt of court and clean them up
By Prof. Michelo Hansungule
Zambian politics has descended into gutter politics without any decency or shame under the current government. A serving minister of Defence and former minister of Finance describe a citizen as a ‘criminal’ to the media yet this citizen has neither been tried nor convicted of a criminal offence, ever heard of that? Isn’t this promoting lawlessness to the extreme? How can a citizen be criminal before any judicial process? Doesn’t this define the authors as unfit for public office let alone office of minister?
Yet it is an offence to take the law into your own hands and we are all persuaded to not resort to self help regardless of circumstances. Only in a few exceptions does the law permit self defence, defence of property and defence of others and in this case in accordance with strictly defined circumstances. If a citizen resorts to self help against another, they can be prosecuted and imprisoned for it.
Defence Minister Davis Chama and former Finance Minister Edith Nawakwi took turns this week lambasting opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema as a ‘criminal’ over his role in the privatisation of the public economy some thirty years ago. Could it be that it is because they are criminals themselves which is why they easily can recognise a criminal when they see one? How do we explain senior government officials so easily using the word ‘criminal’ against the grain of the law if they are not?
And what is this in terms of teaching our children how to behave in leadership, or does it not matter? In these days of social media, children are not only watching leaders behaving like toddlers calling others their political opponents ‘criminals’ and shouting bring it on, bring it on referring to court contempt threats and you are a minister or former minister?
In the week, Edith Nawakwi fed the media with serious allegations against Hakainde Hichilema regarding his role during the privation process. Though she purports to be opposition herself, she was intent on defaming her colleague to the worst possible degree and shifted all the blame to him as if he was the minister responsible for finance while she was mere consultant. Among other things, she accused him of undervaluing assets of Ramcoz, selling to himself and buying the Lima Bank house in Kabulonga using his position as chairman of the privatisation committee and failing to declare interest during negotiations for the sell of the Mosiotunya hotel in Livingstone.
Before Hakainde could respond, including KBM, Sean Tembo, YALI jumped into the bandwagon and found Hichilema guilty of the charges. KBM said Hichilema failed to disclose interest in the Mosiotunya hotel negotiations but suggested he should not be arrested to avoid chaos in the country. Sean Tembo who pretended to ‘sit as a court in the matter’ while ‘acquitting Hichilema on Ramcoz and Lima bank house, found him ‘guilty’ of failing to declare interest in the Mosiotunya hotel negotiations and sell. Interestingly he never found Edith to have defamed Hichilema in the Ramcoz and Lima bank affairs despite finding Hichilema on firmer grounds on the two issues? YALI which has always been on the side of the ruling party the Patriotic Front even described the privation process of the hotel as ‘theft’ by Hichilema whom they accused him of selling the hotel to himself.
Yet all these comments from other opposition leaders came before Hichilema laid out his case. This raises serious questions regarding the calibre and character of our politics? These are people aspiring to lead us. They can’t even as much pose so as to hear from the other side before venturing their verdicts. And as it turned out unfortunately for them, Hichilema’s response in both the letter of demand to Ms Nawakwi and in the statement of claim he filed in court demonstrated that the accusations were a cocktail of lies and using dates and names of the people involved in those transactions and the period involved, detailed the lie on each.
Of course coordinating this tapestry of lies is president Edgar Lungu, the main beneficiary of the lies. Most people do not know Edgar Lungu, those who support and who oppose him, both sides do not know him. Edgar is a complicated figure. Remember, starting from his party, his ascendancy to lead the party was controversial. There were two conventions his came after the first convention which he just ignored and organised his. Following that he ordered some judges to affirm his leadership and the rest is history. In 2016 when Hichilema dared complain against the election in which he was controversially declared loser, Edgar simply banned the Constitutional Court from hearing Hichilema’s complaints. With this history in mind, it is quite clear most of those who jumped the bandwagon and made remarks finding Hichilema guilty as charged by Edith Nawakwi did so as Edgar’s surrogates, a suggestion Hichilema made.
How do we address this problem? It is simple. Action should be taken against those who defame others. Hakainde Hichilema must sue all those that have written things and made statements defaming him. Sue YALI, sue opposition and other politicians and other leaders who have made unbalanced comments and statements against him. This is the best way to promote values in society. Sue them and if they run foul of the law lock them up for contempt, no empathy. Clean them up of all their money, let them toil for years paying court costs arising from their irresponsible careless conduct. If you use empathy and forgive them, you are promoting impunity and bad leadership will continue. You are imparting bad values on our children that lying is Ok and there is nothing wrong with defaming others. So, I am calling on Hakainde to clean them all up with hefty bills arising from court processes. Let them walk naked and turn to streets to beg food. This way, politics will move towards decency and politicking become value based.