Zambian government tells off European parliament




PF Headquarters, Lusaka, Zambia

Firstly I do not recall as a Member of the Zambian Parliament tabling or indeed discussing a motion within the European Union even if there is plenty to talk about from there! It is unbelievable that the European Parliament, with all the available avenues of verifying facts at its disposal, can easily fall for lies purveyed by enemies of the Zambian people. This is so especially when they seek to misrepresent happenings of a sovereign nation. We refuse to believe that the EU Parliament would be as gullible as to be moved by half-truths and cheap propaganda emanating from desperate men and women of questionable moral standing.

We have always held the view that the EU Parliament respects and promotes adherence to the rule of law. We have always held the view that it is not for the EU to dictate to African Countries what laws to enforce and conveniently so. Our view has been that the EU Parliament places demand on all political players within the EU and beyond to respect the laws of the land in which they are found.

We find it totally unacceptable that the EU Parliament would entertain a flawed motion, devoid of truthful facts. For starters, we do not need to remind the EU Parliament that Zambia is a sovereign country having attained her independence on 24th October 1964 from Britain. We are referring to Great Britain, which exercised its right to leave the EU in a Brexit Referendum Vote. Ever since our Independence, Zambia has enjoyed and cherished her political freedom and there is no intention whatsoever to trade it off at the altar of political expediency for anything.

It would be interesting to know from the EU Parliament which debated the motion herein referred to what constitutes treason under its regime. Under English law treason was redefined by the Treason Act 1795 and the principal forms now include: (1) compassing the death or serious injury of the sovereign or his (or her) spouse or eldest son; (2) levying war against the sovereign in his (or her) realm, which includes any insurrection against the authority of the sovereign or of the government that goes beyond riot or violent disorder; (3) giving aid or comfort to the sovereign’s enemies in wartime. We seek to know if the EU Parliament holds a different interpretation of treason from that of its former member, Britain.

The EU Parliament may wish to know that in Zambia treason may be committed in several ways including preparing or endeavouring to carry out by force any enterprise which usurps the executive power of the State in any matter of both a public and a general nature. (Section 43 (1) (d) of the Penal Code).

Section 43 (2) (a)-(b) of the Penal Code tells us what “by force” means. It says:

“(a) by force used in such a manner as, whether by reason of the number of persons involved or the means used or both, to imperil or be likely to imperil the safety of the State or to cause or be likely to cause death or grievous harm or serious damage to property; or

(b) by a show of force calculated to arouse reasonable apprehension that force will be used in such a manner as is described in paragraph (a).”

Under the Zambian legal regime, it is treason to compass (plot) or an attempt to kill or cause serious injury to the head of state. From the Penal Code, it is very clear that even merely causing reasonable fear to the head of state that force would be used against him suffices as use of force.

“…or to cause or be likely to cause death or grievous harm…” It is a no brainer that the above sentence can only apply to natural person as the “State” cannot be killed or grievously harmed. Neither can it apprehend any use of force.

Of course, it is not every plot to kill or seriously injure the President that would amount to treason but any such plot accompanied by any intention to usurp the executive power.

The EU Parliament would be interested to know that there have been serious delusions on the part of Opposition Hichilema’s sympathizers including his lawyers that the human rights of their client and his co-accused are being violated. This is a political assertion and not a legal one!

In specific terms, it is being alleged that their right to be presumed innocent until being found guilty is being violated by denying them bail. His lawyers are even attempting to argue that non-bailable offences are unconstitutional.

The Supreme Court of Zambia has held that: “…there is no constitutional right to bail for an accused person except where the trial is unreasonably delayed, no doubt through no fault of the accused…” – (Parekh v The People (1995).

Opposition leader Hichilema’s trial clearly fails to meet the above test because there has not been any unreasonable delay of the trial in any sense at all. He appeared in court within a week of being charged and he has since been properly bought to court for continued trial. The due process of the law is clearly being followed to the letter.

The EU Parliament certainly knows that not all human rights are not absolute. They may be legitimately taken away where circumstances justify. Our Constitution and the International Bill of Rights all recognize this elementary fact. Therefore, where a person like Opposition leader Hichilema is alleged to have committed a crime, the law will take its course to ensure that guilt does not go unpunished not that innocence should suffer.

The EU Parliament would wish to know that as the law takes its commanding course, certain rights and freedoms may be lawfully suspended. These may include liberty, movement and freedom of association. This is exactly what Opposition leader Hichilema and his co-accused in the crime charge are going through. They can therefore not be heard to say their human rights are being violated when there is every justification for the temporal suspension of their enjoyment of the above rights owing to the crimes they are alleged to have committed.

We also wish to remind the EU Parliament that the process to consult Zambians on withdrawal from the ICC was not triggered by the Patriotic Front. The EU Parliament knows better that the African Union has called for the mass withdrawal of member states from the International Criminal Court (ICC) on 31st January 2017 at its annual heads of state of summit in Addis Ababa. Part of the resolution also said the AU would hold talks with the UN Security Council to push for the ICC to be reformed. While South Africa and Burundi decided to withdraw, accusing the ICC of undermining their sovereignty and unfairly targeting Africans, Zambia decided to consult the citizens and we expect the EU Parliament to commend the Patriotic Front Government for going this route. It is not true that the Patriotic Front wanted to pull out of the ICC because had that been the case, according to the Rome Statute, President Edgar Lungu is mandated to initiate an exit process from the ICC through a Parliamentary route but being a true democrat and leader who valued wider participation of Zambian citizens in the Country’s governance processes, he instead opted for a nationwide consultative process. If Opposition leader Hichilema opposed, he did so as part of other voices in the nation who took different sides to a debate initiated by the Patriotic Government. For the record, not even Patriotic Front argued for the exit from ICC. It is therefore malicious to bring the ICC debate into the issues surrounding the Opposition leader. The two matter are totally unrelated!

Lastly, we wish to call on the EU Parliament to respect the Judiciary of a Sovereign State as Zambia. We also remind them to consider and follow with keen interest the matters before the Courts of law. It is a misnomer to allege that Zambia has slid into dictatorship following Opposition Leader Hichilema’s arrest without considering the legal framework governing the charges he is faced with. We would be interested to know from the EU Parliament what should become of Opposition leaders who break the Zambian law. Should they be let to go scot free just because they have friends with money who can mobilize international voices for them?

We must remind the EU Parliament that it is wishful thinking to argue that the quick release of Opposition leader Hichilema will be a first step towards democracy in Zambia. We wish to remind the EU Parliament that Zambia has already made gigantic leaps towards the course of democracy and has been a shining example of democracy not only on the African continent but world over.

The EU Parliament would wish to know that Zambia is a nation of laws. There exists no lawful process of quickly releasing persons accused of serious crimes and who are undergoing trial. As has been argued before, what the EU Parliament is suggesting that Hichilema is released amounts to obstructing justice and flies in the very teeth of the rule of law.

Signed By:

*Hon. Kelvin Mutale Sampa, Member of Parliament in the Zambian Legislature,*

Fully authorised by his excellency President Edgar C Lungu

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