Friday, October 16, 2009

Banda is prepared to destroy the judiciary over Chiluba – Sacika

Banda is prepared to destroy the judiciary over Chiluba – Sacika
Written by George Chellah
Saturday, October 17, 2009 12:50:16 AM

FORMER secretary to the cabinet Sketchley Sacika yesterday said President Rupiah Banda is prepared to destroy the country's Judiciary, which currently stands discredited because of former president Frederick Chiluba's acquittal. And Zambians for Empowerment and Development (ZED) president Dr Fred Mutesa said President Banda's statement on Chiluba's acquittal undermines the sacred principle of equality before the law.

Reacting to President Banda's remarks on Chiluba's acquittal during a closed-door meeting in Kasama last Sunday, Sacika expressed displeasure with President Banda's statement on the acquittal.

“The Bembas have a very interesting saying. They say 'Akanwa kamilandu kalailetelela' [a guilty mouth brings trouble upon itself]. The President is merely confirming what everybody has been talking about, namely that he has manipulated the judicial system in order to secure Mr Chiluba's release,” Sacika said.

“Not for the reasons that he and his minister Mike Mulongoti gave. Mr Banda has convinced himself that Mr Chiluba is very useful to him in the presidential election in 2011.”

He said President Banda was so preoccupied with winning the elections in 2011.

“Such that he does not seem to care about the harm he is inflicting on our country, on our state institutions and apparently on his own political party, the MMD. In the MMD, he doesn't want to go for a national convention because he doesn't want to be challenged and that really is a slap in the face of the MMD, a party formed to promote democracy in the country,” Sacika said.

“He is also prepared to destroy our Judiciary in order to achieve his political ends. He has destroyed the dignity of the institution of chiefs by turning them into his political cadres and now he wants civil servants to support him because he is head of state.”

He said the future of Zambia could not be guaranteed by what he termed as 'big man politics'.

“Our future can only be guaranteed by strengthening our institutions. Mr Chiluba was our president but he is now an ordinary person and he doesn't need a special prison for his incarceration. If Mr Banda had felt for Mr Chiluba, the best thing was to grant him a pardon after the conviction, instead of leaning on our Judiciary to acquit him,” Sacika said.

“As a result of Chiluba's acquittal, our Judiciary stands discredited and this is a serious matter. It's frightening to see our President defend a man who has done so much harm and injustice to the people of Zambia. Rupiah will not be President forever, what legacy is he going to leave when he is no longer President? A legacy of confusion and destruction?”

He said a President of Zambia is elected to serve the interests of the people not to serve his own interests because that was not what the Constitution states.

“Chiluba let the people of Zambia down and the President is now doing the same. This is unacceptable,” Sacika said.

And Dr Mutesa expressed disappointment and dismay at the statement attributed to President Banda on Chiluba's acquittal.

“We are alarmed that the alleged argument by President Banda not only does it border on a serious abrogation of the oath he swore to uphold, protect and defend the Constitution, but also undermines the sacred principle of equality before the law. We have said it before, for us as a party, the issue is not about nailing or not nailing Dr Chiluba to the cross,” Dr Mutesa said.

“What is at stake is that justice must not just be done, but must be seen to be done. Statements such as the one attributed to President Banda serve only to lend credence to the widespread view that our judicial system is being interfered with by the executive wing of the state.”

He said the legal fraternity in the country had agreed that there were good enough grounds for the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to appeal the verdict of the trial magistrate.

“The Constitution does have provision for the Republican president to have his say in a judicial process, but only after the different layers of our court system have had their turn. President Banda could have patiently waited for his turn at the appropriate time and could still have saved Dr Chiluba, assuming that the Supreme Court would have handed him a guilty verdict,” Dr Mutesa said.

“We, therefore, condemn any pronouncement, regardless of who is behind them, that has the effect of compromising the principle of separation of powers, the bedrock of any democratic society. In the same country, we cannot have different sets of laws, one for the powerful and another for ordinary people. That would be building an unjust society.

“In fighting for independence in 1964 and multiparty democracy in 1991, respectively, Zambians were essentially saying no to discriminatory systems. We should be working towards empowering all Zambians, regardless of their social status and not bringing back decadent and archaic practices. Assuming Dr Chiluba had been found guilty, it should not have been a headache for the Head of State on where to put him. We have enough prison space for lawbreakers in this nation.”

He said his party believed in equal access to justice for all, without regard to one's social, economic or political status.

“We demand that President Banda's performance of national duties adhere to the tenets of the Constitution he swore to uphold, protect and defend and not be swayed by personal sentiments,” Sacika said.

Last Sunday, President Banda said Chiluba's acquittal had brought relief to the nation. He said jailing Chiluba would have brought a lot of complications to his government.

And speaking on arrival at Livingstone International Airport on Thursday, President Banda said he was not a dictator like some people allege. He said he was merely firm and would not allow outsiders to tell him how to run the MMD.

“I am not a dictator, I am just stubborn,” said President Banda. “I am not going to allow outsiders to run this party from outside pretending that they are advocating democracy when in fact they want to destroy our party.”

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