Tuesday, July 17, 2007

GBM's rantings

GBM's rantings
By Editor
Tuesday July 17, 2007 [04:00]

We have said before, and we want to say it again, that no amount of intimidation or threats will deter us from performing our functions as journalists. We have a duty to perform and in doing this, we are guided by our mission statement and the editorial policy. We have a duty to maintain the highest professional and ethical standards.

We do not sit in our offices to plot how and who to attack the following day; we do not sit in our offices to scheme how and who to bring down the next day. Our editorial policy compels us to be fair, accurate and honest as far as possible. We are also obliged not to suppress, distort or censor news, unless by publication we endanger someone’s life. Further, we are under obligation to rectify promptly any harmful inaccuracies and ensure that corrections and apologies receive due prominence and afford the right of reply to persons criticised when the issue is of sufficient importance.

This is what we do on a daily basis.
We also have a mission to strive continually for higher editorial standards by closely monitoring the accuracy, balance, clarity and style of our reporting as we play our role in questioning the policies and actions of authorities and all those who wield or aspire to wield social, economic and political power over the lives of ordinary people.

But in all that we do, truth remains the central theme of our work. We want to expose the truth and nothing but the truth. However, since we are not perfect, sometimes we get our facts wrong. When this happens, we do not hesitate to rectify the inaccuracies.

And in telling the truth, we sometimes find ourselves earning more enemies than friends. This is because in most cases, the kind of truth we expose does not build but destroy people’s reputations and sometimes even their careers, especially political careers. But what can we do if we have been confronted with the challenge of reporting nothing but the truth?

Yes, we are aware that sometimes the price of telling the truth can be so high as to even cost our lives. This is not the first time we have been threatened with physical harm. We have been beaten and insulted before by enemies of the truth but that did not stop us from reporting the truth.

So even if Lusaka businessman Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba (GBM) insults and threatens us with all sorts of things, we will not be moved, neither will we stop reporting the truth because we know that GBM is just a common liar and a bully who thinks he can harass everyone the same way he harasses his employees.

The story we reported about GBM and Southern Province minister Joseph Mulyata was clear and very simple to follow. We reported that Mulyata, after receiving some representation from GBM or his employees, had harassed and used bad language against Road Development Agency (RDA) officers who impounded GBM’s overloaded luxury coach at Livingstone Weighbridge. We further reported that Mulyata ordered RDA officers to release the impounded bus against the law, without paying the prescribed penalty fee which in this case came to US $2,000.

When we contacted GBM for clarification on the matter, he said he was not aware that his bus had been impounded because he was out of the country and was admitted to hospital on return to Zambia.
But when we phoned Mulyata on Friday, he said he only intervened to help GBM after he pleaded for assistance following the detention of his bus by RDA officers. Mulyata further complained that the penalty fee was so exorbitant and that GBM had to contact him because RDA officers were not compromising.

These are the activities between GBM and Mulyata which we questioned in our editorial comment of last Sunday because we smelt something bordering on corruption or some very serious wrongdoing in Mulyata’s intervention on behalf of GBM.

If GBM had nothing to hide, why did he deny knowledge of his bus having been impounded when he was actually the one pleading with Mulyata to have it released against the provisions of the law? And what is it that really prompted Mulyata to intervene on GBM’s behalf against the law? For close to three days, Mulyata was pushing for the release of the bus against the law. At what cost?

These are the questions we had to ask ourselves before concluding that alleging corruption or any wrongdoing in this transaction would not be wrong.

If it is proved that there is nothing wrong about what Mulyata and GBM did, we will be the first ones to retract everything we have said about them and tender the necessary apologies because we are not doing anything with ill-motive.

However, we doubt if it will ever be proved or established that there was nothing wrong with Mulyata and GBM’s conduct because we have checked the law. The law is very clear. Statutory Instrument No. 28 of 2007 on the public roads Act stipulates that in case of an overload offence, any accredited weighbridge station on behalf of the Agency shall impose the prescribed compensation for the road damage to the owner of the vehicle in accordance with the Act and that the compensation shall be paid on the spot and BEFORE the detained vehicle in question can be released. The Act further states that in case of a dispute on the compensation, the vehicle shall not be released until the dispute is settled.

This is what the law provides on this matter.
Mulyata said the penalty fee was too high but the Act says in case of a dispute on the compensation, the vehicle shall not be released until the dispute is settled. As a lawmaker, why did Mulyata decide to go against the law that he enacted on behalf of the people? If he cannot respect that law he is making, who does Mulyata expect to respect or follow that law? Will it be wrong for all those whose vehicles are impounded to demand the release of their vehicles before paying compensation? These are the questions we have been asking ourselves.

And by the way, the RDA does not insist on immediate payment. They detain the vehicle and allow the owner to look for money to pay. If the owner does not pay in three days, they start charging extra fees per day until the vehicle is paid for.

As for GBM’s raving and rantings against us, we will leave them for the trash can because that is where they belong. We know that his rantings are baseless and an exaggeration of his wealth, if any. GBM boasted that he is so rich that he can pay all of us at The Post and wondered why we reported that he failed to pay what was due to the RDA. We laughed at this cheap statement because GBM did not realise that he pushed Mulyata to break the law because he was unable to raise K7 million or US $2,000 in three days to pay for his impounded bus.

In making this statement, GBM forgot that even walls have got ears. We heard him, through the walls, pleading with Mulyata saying: ‘My brother, just find a way of helping me because you know these things we buy them on credit from the banks. So if we do not operate, we cannot raise money to pay back the loans’.

This is the rich man speaking in the name of GBM, the wealthy man who can move the Queen from Buckingham Palace to Lusaka but cannot pay US $2,000 for his impounded bus.
Anyway, we will leave it here for now.



Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home