Wednesday, October 10, 2007

People fighting govt over NCC will be arrested -Levy

People fighting govt over NCC will be arrested -Levy
By Brighton Phiri
Wednesday October 10, 2007 [04:00]

All those fighting government over the National Constitution Conference (NCC) will be arrested and charged with treason, President Mwanawasa warned yesterday. Addressing scores of MMD cadres and government officials at Lusaka International Airport soon after his arrival from London, President Mwanawasa warned that anyone daring government over the NCC was committing treason and risked being charged with treason.

"NCC is now law. This law is now embodied, for those who did not know, in the NCC Act. I want those who are daring government to know... those who are still doubting that this is not the law and those who want to fight government and make governance impossible, that they are committing treason,” President Mwanawasa warned.

“I have come back a changed person. Let me hear no more nonsense bordering on malice, they are going to be arrested and charged with treason and bail is not available to treason.”

President Mwanawasa wondered why some people were still against the NCC even after the government amended the NCC bill in order to allow the conference to elect its own chairperson. He said he was delighted to see that the constitution review and NCC had been progressing very well. He observed that most of the organisations and individuals who had previously not supported the constitution-making process, had embraced it.

“I wish still to appeal to those that are still doubting to follow suit and accept this NCC,” he said.

President Mwanawasa further wondered why the civil society complained that civil servants and public officers were dominating the NCC and that under such circumstances the government would have the privilege, when it was public knowledge that the MMD had been complaining that the electoral officers had never assisted them during elections. He said even though MMD was the party in government, it did not mean that they controlled the civil servants.

“The opposition themselves know how we have complained, for example, during elections that we have not been supported by electoral officers.

Even in elections, at State House for example, when the counting had been done, it is found that MMD has been losing. If that is the case, what evidence is there that we are manipulating these people? These people are Zambians; there could be soldiers, police officers or teachers. We cannot exclude them because they are very important,” he said.

President Mwanawasa said the MMD government had bent forward and backwards to accommodate everything the civil society had said and complied with their demands.
“But what is the problem? You said that the President has too much power because he appoints the chairperson of NCC.

I gave in and instructed the justice minister to amend it so that the NCC itself will elect its chairman,” he said. “Despite that they changed their goal post saying the President has too much powers because he can dissolve the NCC at any time. Yes that power is there. But I invite them to look at the Act to see whether it is a power which the President in a democratic state should not have.”

President Mwanawasa said the government was not ready to spend on a process which could not produce results.

“If they are abandoning their mandate and begin clutching each other’s neck, fighting and insulting each other at the expense of the state, we are paying them allowances for doing nothing but creating chaos, as a responsible President, I have the power to dissolve them,” President Mwanawasa warned.

“When I have dissolved them, it does not mean it is the end of it because we can start the process all over again and elect other members of the NCC who are prepared to work. Do they want me to appoint Sata to be in charge of this process? Sata is not the President...let him give me time to rule.”

President Mwanawasa explained that as soon as the NCC completed its work and adopted the new Constitution, the justice minister was empowered under the NCC Act to take the bill back to Parliament to revoke and repeal the NCC.

“And it will no longer be law. What is wrong with that?” he asked.
He reminded Zambians that some countries have been on the constitution conference for as much as six years without results being shown.

“I wanted it to be different in this country at this stage. That is the reason why I was elected President of this country. I was given executive functions. And I intend to govern this country and to invoke the executive functions to the full,” President Mwanawasa said.

He expressed happiness at the warm welcome Zambians had given him. President Mwanawasa said the good welcome could only mean that Zambians loved him.
He explained that his trip to the US was extremely successful as he addressed the UN general assembly on climate change and various other issues of national development and held bilateral meetings with the international community.

“I addressed, for example, the tendency by some countries to keep on hiding property which has been stolen from the developing countries. I appealed to those countries to ensure that not only do they repatriate those funds that have been stolen from us but they should also hand to us the fugitives or culprits instead of entertaining them with red carpets in their countries,” he said.

President Mwanawasa disclosed that Portuguese Prime Minister José Sócrates had confirmed to him that Zimbabwe would be invited to the forthcoming European Union (EU) and African Union (AU) summit scheduled for December in Lisbon.

“Zimbabwe should not make us fail to sit down. So he confirmed to me that Zimbabwe would be invited. I was extremely pleased to hear this. If Zimbabwe is invited then I am going to Lisbon, so will my colleagues in the AU, SADC; we are going to attend that dialogue,” he said.

“I still appeal to the Prime Minister of Britain to consider his stance because we consider him to be too important, particularly for us in the SADC, because most of us, Britain was our colonising empire and so he is a relevant partner to discuss matters of the development of Africa with us. I repeat; we will consider it a great and exciting moment if the Prime Minister of Britain attends the summit. If he doesn’t attend it will be indeed unfortunate.”

President Mwanawasa said during his bilateral meetings, he explained Zambia’s position and that of SADC nations on Zimbabwe.

“I mentioned that it is not the answer to isolate Zimbabwe. We should engage Zimbabwe in dialogue. The Commonwealth suspended Zimbabwe, and Zimbabwe decided to quit the Commonwealth. You cannot say the Commonwealth has gained because it is the Commonwealth which has lost.”

On the honourary doctorate in law bestowed on him by Harding University of the US, President Mwanawasa said he was humbled and it was in recognition of the achievements of Zambians.

“I told them that what we have achieved as a country was not achieved alone, but by collective efforts of Zambians. So we should be proud of the fact that the international community is recognising our efforts,” he said.

“I will soon be retiring from public life and there is no need for me to look for employment. I am sufficiently qualified. I passed with merit in law at UNZA. I was admitted as solicitor of the Supreme Court of England and I have been conferred with the honour and dignity of State Counsel.

So professional-wise, what more do I need? Some people are saying they are not recognising this doctorate and I don’t invite them to recognise it. Indeed, I went as Mr Mwanawasa and I have come back as Dr Mwanawasa.”

President Mwanawasa urged youths to use his dedication of the doctorate to them to aspire to become professors.

And speaking on behalf of the youths, David Kaunda National Technical High School pupil Gideon Muzamba said the youth would cherish the honour given to them by working very hard so as to uphold the moral fibre of justice in the country

“To accept the doctorate degree which you have dedicated to us the youths of Zambia, we assure you that we will rise to your level of doctorate and beyond to be called professors,” Muzamba said.
Earlier, MMD cadres sang songs of praise and performed traditional dances.
First Lady Maureen Mwanawasa, local government minister Sylvia Masebo and Gender and Development minister Patricia Mulasikwanda joined in dancing to the traditional drums.

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