Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Hansungule tells Rupiah to consider resigning

Hansungule tells Rupiah to consider resigning
Written by Ernest Chanda
Wednesday, March 11, 2009 5:05:49 PM

UNIVERSITY of Pretoria Human Rights Law lecturer Professor Michelo Hansungule has asked President Rupiah Banda to leave public office if he does not want to be criticised by the media.

Commenting on President Banda's relentless threats to close The Post newspaper, Prof Hansungule said the President's conduct does not befit a public officer.

"From his remarks, it is quite clear that President Banda wants to be left alone to govern without any criticism from the media. He does not want the media to put him under scrutiny for his inactions and actions as a public official. I would actually agree with him that he and his officials must be left alone but then they must leave public office in order to enjoy their privacy," Prof Hansungule said.

"I personally do not understand why a person who is so sensitive to criticism should leave his or her private domain and venture into public office? President Banda should be aware of the elementary principle of governance that the public are entitled to know how they are governed by those they supposedly put in power and how those in power make their decisions.

"If you think The Post, for instance, has accused you unfairly, you have every right to hurl them before courts and let them prove their allegations. I don't think President Banda is so broke that he cannot afford to drag Fred M'membe to court to ask him to test his allegations. Why has President Banda not gone to court to challenge The Post's allegations, which have been running since the election campaigns? Could it be that there is something in the allegations that he may find difficult to disprove? As long as he will not go to the courts but choose to clear his name through rented cadres, doubts about his credibility will remain."

Prof Hansungule said The Post, like any other media, had a right to inform the public on issues of public interest.

"Fred M'membe and the young people at The Post are just expressing their views about various governance issues in the editorials of their paper. This is democracy. Based on the stories they receive from the general public, they have every right to inform the public and to comment on them as they see them. Since we have a robust system of justice, why not go there to complain on an unfair publication than threaten to close them?" he asked.

"Closing a paper does not close people from talking about the wrongs that are going on. It is just a temporary setback that a critical opinion has been silenced because one cannot close the millions of critical opinions out there, which fed The Post. Since he said it to his party cadres, can I challenge the President to make real his threats and close The Post this coming week?"

He called on the MMD to condemn their leader if they truly believed in press freedom.

"The Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) should unreservedly condemn their acting party president Rupiah Banda for issuing serious threats against press freedom in Zambia during his remarks to MMD party cadres. As the ruling party, the MMD cannot afford to be seen to be condoning acts which run counter to the letter, let alone the spirit of the constitution the party in government is obliged to uphold whatever the cost. Threats against press freedom undermine the fabric of the country's system of governance and raise questions about the fitness of those in government to govern. This is an unfortunate development which a party in government which supposedly cherishes democracy must never even appear to be condoning," said Prof Hansungule.

Labels: , ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home