Friday, July 20, 2007

Justifying the unjustifiable

Justifying the unjustifiable
By Editor
Friday July 20, 2007 [04:00]

We do not take pleasure in criticising others, especially those who are very close to us like our information minister Mike Mulongoti. Much as this is the case, we feel duty-bound to set the record straight by correcting the erroneous and uninformed picture that Mulongoti painted on Muvi TV on Wednesday to the effect that Southern Province minister Joseph Mulyata could have ordered the illegal release of an impounded bus belonging to MMD cadre Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba (GBM) on humanitarian grounds.

We find Mulongoti’s attempt to mutilate the truth very unfortunate. Every time he decides to open his mouth, Mulongoti will do well to remind himself that he is a chief government spokesperson and everything he says represents government position on the matter.

So when we heard Mulongoti feebly trying to justify the unjustifiable, we took it that it was government’s position on the matter that the appointing authority would exercise discretion in dealing with Mulyata’s transgression against the law because he did what he did on humanitarian grounds. We are mentioning the appointing authority because we know that when it comes to punishment, it is this authority that metes out the punishment.

Mulyata broke the law that he swore to defend, a law that he himself was promoting two months ago by asking transporters and all stakeholders to support the government in implementing it.

We have listened to Mulyata’s justification of his illegal intervention in GBM’s questionable activity. His only reason is that GBM phoned and pleaded with him to release the bus against the law. He did not talk about anything to do with humanitarian grounds, anything to do with stranded passengers because he knows the truth. He was on the ground and saw that there was no one being inconvenienced by the Road Development Agency’s decision to impound the overloaded bus in line with the law. If anyone felt inconvenienced, it must have been GBM because he was losing income as the bus had been impounded. But this cannot be said to be an inconvenience on his part. He was merely paying for his illegal activities.

That is why we find it cheap that Mulongoti should attempt to cleanse GBM and Mulyata when it is clear that the two had connived to break the law. And it is surprising that Mulongoti who is expected to be in the forefront defending the law is the one trying to protect those breaking it and justifying their wrongdoing.

If Mulongoti did not know as much as some of us do on this matter, the best was for him to say as little as he knew. Trying to pretend to have answers for everything will one day land Mulongoti in trouble. Let him just do his work as a messenger. After all, who doesn’t know that all spokespersons are just told what to say?

In saying all this, we are not insisting that Mulyata should be fired by President Levy Mwanawasa. Our only interest is to ensure that the law takes its course. We want the law to punish all offenders and acquit all the innocent.

When we expose any wrongdoing, we are just trying to cleanse our society and expect that citizens will learn to respect the law because they would have seen what happens to lawbreakers.
Even if we want Mulyata dismissed, we can only talk about it knowing that it is Levy’s prerogative to appoint and disappoint. We can call for Mulyata’s dismissal today but if Levy wants to continue working with him, there is nothing we can do about it. We can only regret that and denounce him for it.

This has happened before. If we had a choice, we would not like to see MMD national chairman Michael Mabenga and national secretary Katele Kalumba, among others, anywhere near the corridors of power for reasons that are well known to the country. But because Levy has chosen to embrace criminality and people of questionable character, there is nothing we can do about it. That is his choice and people will judge him accordingly.

The same is true of Mulyata and GBM’s case. We feel we have played our role by exposing their illegal activities. And Levy, just like the investigating and the law enforcing agencies, should play their roles. If they decide to turn a blind eye to everything that has come out so far in this matter, we will still be happy knowing that our people know the truth and they will be the judges in this matter. If Levy, like Mulongoti, tries to justify Mulyata and GBM’s illegal activities, we are confident that our people will not be swayed to take falsity for the truth. Mulyata and GBM may tomorrow escape punishment because they rub shoulders with people in authority but our people will judge them for what they are.
We have submitted our findings before the people’s court and we are sure that in their wisdom, our people have seen where the truth lies. They have concluded the case and passed the necessary sentences.
Of course, our people would like certain punitive and corrective measures to be taken against wrongdoers. But if those who are expected to take those measures neglect to do that, illegality will become the order of the day. When this happens, it will not be difficult for our people to see who is promoting or working against the rule of law.

As for Mulongoti, our advice to him is: “Play it cool and don’t be unnecessarily defensive”. When we expose or criticise, it is not our intention to destroy, even when something or someone is destroyed in the process. We want to contribute in the building of our country. That’s our main pre-occupation. We are no cynics because we know that cynics cannot build a society.

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