PRESIDENTIAL IMMUNITY AND THE CONTINUED
HOLDING OF BY-ELECTIONS
BY MOVEMENT FOR MULTI-PARTY DEMOCRACY’S POSITION ON THE REMOVAL OF DR NEVERS S MUMBA- PRESIDENT OF THE PARTY
MARCH 27 2013, LUSUKA
Members of the Press
Distinguished Invited Guests
Ladies and Gentlemen
The current political trend created by the PF is detrimental to the maintenance of peace, unity and sustainable development in the nation. The fatal decision by the PF to dismantle the opposition Parties and their leaders, will reverse all democratic gains made since 1991. The PF’s decision to withdraw basic freedoms from the opposition and the instilling of fear and terror in all sectors of government and society could result into a failing state. The High handed manner in which the President is handling his opponents will only injure the peace and national pride we have cherished over the past forty eight years.
MMD is shocked at the manner By-elections are being created, and abused by the state. We are also shocked at the manner former President Banda’s immunity has been stripped without following laid down constitutional procedures.
Zambia has become unrecognizable since PF took office. The blatant violation of the constitution by the President is most worrying to many Zambians. The politics of hatred and victimization can only breed heightened insecurity in the nation. The terrified Civil Service, the traumatized investors who are now holding back any further investment into the country. These and more setbacks can only be resolved by PF realizing that politics of arrogance will not answer the many economic and social problems facing the nation
We must as a nation find a better way to govern ourselves. We must do politics of give and take and respect for one another. PF must change. The President of Zambia must change. The brutal way of treating opponents must change. We need change now, to save our nation
REMOVAL OF PRESIDENTIAL IMMUNITY
On Friday 15th March 2013, the Parliament of Zambia removed the Presidential Immunity conferred on Mr Rupiah Bwezani Banda, upon his assumption of office in September 2009. The act of removal of presidential immunity has now been done for a second time, since it was first achieved in regard to Dr. Fredrick Chiluba in 2002. The position on the current matter, In as far as the Movement for Multi-Party Democracy is concerned, was to a certain extent influenced by the experiences and outcomes obtained in the first Matter.
In understanding the national events prior to the public announcement by government, to proceed towards the removal of Mr Rupiah Banda’s immunity, and taking into consideration of what transpired in the first instance of 2002. Our position on the current matter, therefore, was consolidated and made clear to the public
THE PAST POSITION
Let me repeat the position taken by the MMD when the current matter was introduced. Firstly, we clearly indicated that the MMD fully supported the fight against corruption, and that our position on this matter was in no way intended to shield Mr Rupiah Banda or any other person from being held accountable for wrong doings that may have been committed while in public office. This is still our position today. However, the MMD was firmly against the removal of immunity for Former President Rupiah Banda on the basis that it believed that the fight against corruption was not in earnest and that it did not consist the primary motive for the removal of R.Bs immunity.
The primary motive by the PF government appeared to be in pursuance of its continued effort to divert public attention from its failures to undertake its promises made to the Zambian people. To divert attention from the important issues of the day and by ensuring that the voice of the opposition is silenced. The diversion of public attention from its failures was going to be done ‘by any means necessary’, ranging from infringements on individual liberties, freedom of speech and assembly, as well as a general assault on the democratic process by breaching constitutional norms. In this regard, a continued assault on the MMD leadership, both outside and within it, and particularly on its past, serves as a useful distraction from the current Meaile Meal shortages and exorbitant price hikes of basic food commodities. This onslaught on the MMD and its members is intended to promote the notion that people are currently suffering as a result of the alleged plunder by the MMD and Mr Rupiah Banda.
This strategy and its false accusations may have worked well for the PF before the elections, but will no longer continue to be effective towards deflecting criticism from their clear under performance. Hence one of the reasons, we were against the removal of Mr Rupiah Banda’s immunity. Secondly, it was our contention that no tangible accusations of wrong doing or subsequent evidence were put on the table.
Our view was that in the absence of such substantive matters, the discussion of removal of immunity was premature and tended to give the impression that the aim was merely to witch-hunt and persecute all perceived enemies of the PF. That in specific reference to RB, an attempt to humiliate him, take way his passport and prevent him from exercising his international responsibility, was partly the petty motive to move against him is such fashion.
Thirdly, we also took note, that the removal of presidential immunity may compromise the National integrity and security of our country. This is because the removal of immunity does not only expose RB but may expose the country as a whole as it was quite evident, from the very beginning, that some of the accusations against the former president would include inquiries on campaign finances and materials; some of which were procured with assistance, and donated from friendly sources within the region. The possibility of this action having a negative effect or unintended fallout in the diplomatic relations of our country is a matter which has to always be carefully handled.
This may amount to putting our country at risk and possibly breaching our peace and security with our neighbouring states.
Fourthly, we were aware that in the attempt to achieve their mischievous scheme, the PF were not prepared to follow the laid down procedures as stipulated in the constitution on the removal of immunity. We were completely convinced that the PF were not prepared to be guided by the principles of natural justice and fairness in this matter.
For the above four primary reasons, our firm position was that we would not support the removal of Immunity of former President Rupiah Banda. It is for this reason that our members of parliament, in agreement with our colleagues in the United Party for National development (UPND) took the position they did when the matter was brought to parliament. In this, we have absolutely no regrets in our opposition to the motion.
Mr Matabini has developed a good and sound reputation as a long serving member of the legal fraternity. His past behaviour has earned him honour and dignity to the extent that questions are now being raised as to his current reversal of behaviour. His current state of mind appears to be at great variance with his reputation as a fair-minded person of the bench. Over his grave and inexplicable behaviour in this Presidential Immunity matter, we believe, that it would be in his best interest to tender his resignation as Speaker of the House. In order to preserve his hard earned reputation, Dr Matibini must resign.
ASSESSING THE REASONS FOR REMOVAL OF IMMUNITY.
In assessing the motion for removal of immunity, it is quite clear that the charges or accusations put forward to leverage the PFs government argument, are highly questionable, berate of any tangible evidence, and are indicative of the desire by the PF to destroy the competitive nature or our democratic system. More than fifty per cent of the charges and accusations are in relation to the financing of elections and the acquisition of materials for the presidential and general elections of 2011. There is no law requiring disclosure of campaign financing in our country. It is also true that there has been no complaint adduced to the effect that any money went missing from the treasury to support campaign funding.
In the entire history of Zambia’s presidential and general elections, presidential candidates have been known to be the primary fund raisers for their respective parties. This has been the case with the elections of 1991, under Dr Kaunda, which was very lavish; the election of 1996 under Dr Chiluba and both elections preside over by Dr Mwanawasa. All of the above distributed financing and material to their respective campaigns while none of the above has been charged with money laundering as a consequence. In addition, the current president, has also been involved in raising money for campaigns, both while he was under the tutelage of Dr Chiluba in the MMD and while leader of the Patriotic Front.
THE CURRENT POSITION
We are dissatisfied and gravely concerned with the abrasive and illegitimate manner in which the Immunity of the former president was removed by parliament two weeks ago. Firstly, we are all aware that a court process to determine the constitutionality of the removal of the immunity, in as far as procedures were concerned, as well as other pertinent matters was before the courts. That this was made known to the Clerk of the National Assembly, who in her received wisdom, decided to refuse the court papers. This is a serious breach of legality and delinquent behaviour on her part. This serves to show great disrespect and contempt for the judicial process. Secondly, an attempt was made through a preliminary point or order, and the court documents placed on the table of the house, in order for the court process to be brought to the attention of the Speaker. To all our surprise, the Speaker went against his own previous rulings as it regards matters commenced in court and behaved as if instructed by the executive.
The Speaker ignored his own previous rulings and the judicial process with great impunity. We are gravely concerned that two senior office bears of the legislature, both of whom happen to be lawyers, can show such disregard to laws that are made by the legislature and exhibit behaviour that serves to promote an environment by which the court process is disrespected and diminished in the eyes of the public. This is most unfortunate and regrettable.
We all remember his attempt to recognise Taiwan as an independent state, in the hope of them financing his campaigns as well as the famous incident in which some dollar denominated amount of money was confiscated from him at Oliver Tambo International Airport. Yet, Mr Sata has never been brought to question or accused of money laundering.
The simple fact that accusations in relation to campaign financing compose the basis and the main weightage of the motion raises serious doubts as to the true motive of this entire process.
It also raises questions of credibility in regard to the other allegations put forward that are not related to the electoral process. Therefore, we cannot be blamed if we are to take the view that other accusations have merely been included in order to give a semblance of tangible wrong doing only for the sole purpose of legitimizing the process and having the public be persuaded to believe that there is a sound basis for this act. IF this is the case, then a very serious and dangerous precedent is being consolidated in the minds of our people. IF this is the case, this precedent is definitely not good for the further maturation of the democratic process in our country. IF this is the case, then it is a clever but diabolical scheme designed to create fear of prosecution and persecution by all who dare to challenge the governance record of the Patriotic Front. To obliterate democracy and return this country to the days of the one party state in which truth and wisdom is only deposited with those with power. This is unacceptable and will not be accepted by the MMD
As matters now go, former President Rupiah Banda has had his immunity removed. As expected he has now been arrested and charged and will be persecuted and prosecuted. We will continue to take the high ground in as far as the rule of law and democratic processes are concerned. We will also continue to show our support to former President Rupiah Banda, as we firmly believe that an individual is innocent until proved guilty. This affirmation of jurisprudence now holds such a significant weight, especially in the environment which has been created by the Patriotic Front; One of intolerance, infringements of individual liberties, harassment of political opponents and gravitation towards a one party state. We will not allow this to happen and we shall fight this retrogression of the democratic process and the rule of law using all our might.
BY – ELECTIONS
The culture of creating unnatural By-Elections by the PF government is a reckless style of governing a nation. It is costly to the tax payer and it is done at the expense of many attendant needs of the population.
The buying of opposition members of Parliament, the offer of Deputy Minister Jobs is all part of a crusade to create a One Party State and weaken the opposition voice. Additionally, President Sata will not stop this destructive, undemocratic style of governance until he reaches the threshold of 106 members of Parliament. This is the number needed to manipulate the constitution now under review.
These By-elections are also meant to obstruct the opposition from pursuing programmes of party mobilization. The PF government is not winning these elections but rigging them. They have also used vote fixing to determine how many votes each party gets. This system was last used in 1998 during local government elections.
As MMD, we shall place our emphasis on nationwide party mobilization. To stop Mr. Sata from creating unnecessary by-elections, we must take power out of his hands, and that power is in the hands of the Zambian voter across the expanse of our nation.
I am therefore initiating the New Hope tour across the country to mobilize our members and state our case to the Zambian people. This shall be my focus and that of our Party. Our Vice President – Political shall oversee the by-elections in conjunction with Chairman for Elections. By- elections, for the moment, shall not be a priority to me, as we want to prepare the Party for the 2016 elections.
Because of the reign of terror created by the PF, and the massive rigging cartel which now includes the police, Zambians should not be misled by the results of the By-elections which are so removed from the reality on ground. The true election result will be fought for at the next general election. Zambians shall triumph in the end. We wish to express our total loss of confidence in the ECZ, which continues to authenticate elections held under dubious conditions. We do not believe that ECZ in its current form will contribute to a more just electoral process.
We therefore demand for an independent, neutral and more credible ECZ be established which shall have the respect of all stakeholders. In the same vain we demand that the police stay out of the actual administration of elections. Their performance in the PF administration by-elections has depleted all confidence that the MMD used to have in our police service. Their role must be redefined and probably be replaced by another security wing
In this regard the MMD shall not participate in the Lukulu West and Kapiri Mposhi by-elections in order to assess further the credibility of the current process which we consider to be fraudulent. We are aware that our detractors will find many negative accusations regarding this decision. However, it has been arrived at with all due consideration and fits into our overall strategic plan. In the meantime, we shall embark on a national mobilization tour dubbed Presidential NEW HOPE Tour 1. This will be a grass root based tour to allow us to connect with and re-organize our structures in readiness for the General Elections.We therefore demand for an independent, neutral and more credible ECZ be established which shall have the respect of all stakeholders. In the same vain we demand that the police stay out of the actual administration of elections. Their performance in the PF administration by-elections has depleted all confidence that the MMD used to have in our police service. Their role must be redefined and probably be replaced by another security wing
In this regard the MMD shall not participate in the Lukulu West and Kapiri Mposhi by-elections in order to assess further the credibility of the current process which we consider to be fraudulent. We are aware that our detractors will find many negative accusations regarding this decision. However, it has been arrived at with all due consideration and fits into our overall strategic plan. In the meantime, we shall embark on a national mobilization tour dubbed Presidential NEW HOPE Tour 1. This will be a grass root based tour to allow us to connect with and re-organize our structures in readiness for the General Elections.
Our National Secretary has finalized the Presidential Programme and will in the next few days notify all provinces of this aggressive grass root mobilization programme. In this way, we shall be channeling our resources towards Party mobilization rather than the distractive dictates of the PF electoral programmes.
In the meantime, a special election and campaign team has been constituted to investigate the questionable electoral process and report back to NEC for final action.
Finally, I also wish to announce that several MPs who have been implicated for destabilizing the Party will be charged during the course of this week, as a way to strengthen discipline in the Party.
I thank you