PRESS STATEMENT No. 96 ISSUED ON SATURDAY, 24th NOVEMBER 2018: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
1. As Patriots for Economic Progress (PeP), we are astounded, and we wish to condemn in the strongest terms possible, the decision of the Supreme Court of Zambia to sentence one Mr. Gregory Chifire to 6 years imprisonment for alleged contempt of court, in a matter in which the Supreme Court itself was the complaint, prosecutor, judge, jury and executioner.
2. There is no question that our freedoms, rights and liberties to freely express ourselves as citizens of this Republic, are clearly enshrined in articles 20 and 21 of the Republican Constitution, and even if a citizen happens to stray in his or her enjoyment of this fundamental right, as the Supreme Court appears to allege in the case of Mr. Gregory Chifire, the punishment meted to such a citizen is supposed to take into account the fact that the particular citizen transgressed while verily believing that they were merely enjoying their constitutional right to express themselves.
3. As Patriots for Economic Progress, we strongly believe that all individuals and institutions who are vested with power and authority, within the context of our governance system, have an inherent duty and responsibility to exercise such power and authority reasonably. It is our submission that in this particular instance, the Supreme Court failed to exercise its power and authority reasonably, in meting out a sentence of 6 years against a bonafide citizen of this Republic, for merely exercising his constitutionally given freedom of expression, which in the eyes of the Supreme Court constituted contempt of court. It is further our submission that in this particular instance, instead of dispensing justice, the Supreme Court misdirected itself. The only question that now requires to be answered is whether such misdirection was inadvertent or deliberate.
4. As Patriots for Economic Progress, we wish to take this opportunity to remind not only the Supreme Court, but all the courts of law in this Republic, that they do not exist in a vacuum but they exist for the sole purpose of serving the public. It is for this reason that judgements that are given by courts of law must be generally accepted by the general public because the real power is vested in the people and not the courts of law, or indeed any other institution of the state. It must always be remembered that we, the people created the state and its various institutions such as the judiciary, for the mere purpose of convenience in the manner that we govern ourselves. None of the organs of the state, including the judiciary, must deem itself too powerful to the point of terrorizing us, the bonafide citizens of this Republic. It must be particularly noted that the citizens of this Republic decided to vest certain powers and authority to certain individuals and institutions in the Republican Constitution, under the assumption that these individuals and institutions shall always exercise such power and authority in a reasonable manner. Unfortunately, in this particular instance, the Supreme Court decision does not seem to pass the reasonableness test.
5. As Patriots for Economic Progress, we wish to reiterate calls that have been made by other sections of society, that the administration of our country’s justice system has significantly deteriorated over the years. Our view is that much as there are plenty of honourable men and women who are committed to the fair and equitable application of the law within our nation’s Judiciary, there are also numerous men and women of questionable moral standing that form part of our Judiciary, and who want to use the respectability, power and authority of their positions to terrorize innocent and powerless citizens. As a political party that is duly registered in this Republic, we want to categorically state that we shall always stand up, step forward and point out whenever and wherever any of our State institutions, including the Judiciary, develops a misconception that it is too powerful and untouchable to the point of terrorizing our innocent and powerless citizens.
6. As Patriots for Economic Progress, we wish to provide clarity that as citizens of this Republic, we do not need the permission or endorsement of the Judiciary or indeed any other State institution, for us to enjoy our rights, freedoms and liberties as enshrined in the Bill of Rights of our Republican Constitution. Our fundamental rights are inherent in us by virtual of the fact that we are bonafide citizens of this Republic. Suffice to mention that we find it regrettable that institutions such as the Judiciary in general and the Supreme Court in particular, which are supposed to exist for the purpose of protecting our fundamental rights, can now be the same institutions that are in the forefront in violating the fundamental right of our citizens to freely express themselves, as enshrined in articles 20 and 21 of the Republican Constitution.
7. As Patriots for Economic Progress, we wish to further state that this Republic, the Republic of Zambia is a nation where the majority of our citizens live in absolute poverty and squalor. However, despite our high poverty levels as a nation, we have decided to sacrifice the few financial resources that we have, to ensure that our judges and justices alike, can be accorded good conditions of service, which even Cabinet Ministers can only dream about. Our judges are given mansions to live in, with a litany of servants. They are allocated top of the range luxury vehicles and out of this world salary packages which they enjoy in full even after retirement, and which in case of their demise, are enjoyed by their spouses. The reason why this nation decided to accord such high levels of opulence to our judges is because we understand and appreciate the importance of a competent, fair and equitable justice system. It therefore follows that we, the bonafide citizens of this Republic, hold a legitimate expectation that the Judiciary will deliver decent judgements. Not perfect judgements, but just decent judgements. It is our submission that the decision of the Supreme Court in the Gregory Chifire matter is far from decent. To the contrary, it is merely designed to assert the self importance of the Court itself. In other words, it is a self-serving decision which totally and completely ignores the public interest.
8. As Patriots for Economic Progress, words cannot adequately express our level of disappointment in the Supreme Court, as regard this case. Our only prayer is that; may devine intervention reign on all those who are bestowed with power and who are tempted to abuse their power to harass innocent and powerless taxpaying citizens of this Republic, the same poor citizens whose tax Kwachas are actually used to fund the opulent state-sponsored lifestyles of the abusers.
9. Last but not least, as Patriots for Economic Progress, we wish to make an enerst appeal to the Republican President, His Excellency Mr. Edgar Chagwa Lungu to consider rendering a Presidential Pardon to Mr. Gregory Chifire, in accordance with Article 97(1)(a) of the Republican Constitution as Amended by Act No. 1 of 2016. This is because the 6 year prison sentence that was meted out to him is not only harsh but also an affront to justice.
Thank You and May God Bless the Great Citizens of the Republic of Zambia and Our Ailing Nation.
SEAN ENOCK TEMBO (SET)
PATRIOTS FOR ECONOMIC PROGRESS (PeP)