Wednesday, June 02, 2010

What respect can Chiluba claim to have for our judiciary?

What respect can Chiluba claim to have for our judiciary?
By The Post
Wed 02 June 2010, 19:30 CAT

When criminals praise law enforcement agencies, there is a big problem somewhere.
In a normal world, criminals run away from the police and other law enforcement agencies – they hate them. The reason for this is not difficult to discern. The law enforcement agencies exist to stop what criminals consider as their legitimate and profitable undertakings.

On the other hand, when a criminal criticises a law enforcement agency and shows hatred for it, then we should know that more likely than not that law enforcement agency is doing the right thing. Criminals are always trying to undermine and sometimes bribe and corrupt law enforcement agencies. When they fail, they turn to defamation and other forms of propaganda to undermine the credibility of the institution they have failed to break or corrupt.

This is something that is well-known world over. Criminals, particularly those involved in organised crime, work very hard to undermine the law enforcement agencies that work against them.

The last eight years or so have brought out something similar in our country. Frederick Chiluba and his tandem of thieves have worked very hard to cheat our people. They have engaged in all sorts of propaganda against the work of the Task Force on Corruption. We wonder whether their attacks would have been as vehement as they have been if the Task Force was ineffective in pursuing them and in bringing out their criminal deeds.

The other day Chiluba was saying that he has no respect for the outcomes of cases handled by the Task Force on Corruption because they were heavily politicised. Chiluba wants to pretend that his unhappiness with the Task Force was because of what he calls “politics”. But we all know that Chiluba’s problems were not as a result of politics.

They were a product of his criminal deeds. Yes, because he is a politician he played a lot of politics. But the charges that he was facing are things that have nothing to do with politics. Chiluba abused his political office to amass wealth. This was a problem. When he was caught, he tried to use politics to get away.

When this did not work, he now has the audacity to accuse law enforcement officers of being politicised. Our people have not forgotten that when Chiluba was in State House, he did not hesitate to use the police and the judicial process to punish his enemies, real and imaginary. For him, the judicial process was but an extension of his political arsenal. Chiluba had no qualms about having his enemies arrested on trumped-up charges.

And because this is what he did, he thinks that everybody else behaves that way. Anyway, the criticism of the Task Force by Chiluba should not surprise anyone. If we were the Task Force, we would take it as a complement. When a criminal criticises a police officer for doing his job effectively, the police officer should be happy. We would have been very worried if Chiluba was praising the Task Force. That would have been a serious indictment on their professionalism.

Chiluba and his tandem of thieves have spent eight years trying to malign the Task Force and those who worked in it, making this and that claim. What is interesting is that they always run to attacking the Task Force instead of addressing the substance of the charges that they faced.

We have not forgotten that their surrogates such as Aaron Chungu were holding press conferences at On the Run in Lusaka’s Northmead area to insult the officers who were investigating them.

The problems that Chiluba and his friends have have nothing to do with the officers but everything to do with the things they did when they were in power. An innocent person has no reason to fear or even malign a law enforcement officer. In fact, law-abiding citizens should appreciate the work of law enforcement officers. The propaganda against those who investigated Chiluba’s corruption will not take away the corruption that they were engaged in.

The problem is not who is exposing or who has exposed the wrongs that they did. The problem lies with the wrongs that they did. Who exposes what they did doesn’t matter much. If they did nothing wrong, it would still not matter much who claims that they did nothing wrong. They must start to address the specific crimes that they had committed because this is where the problem lies.

We are still waiting for Chiluba to tell our people where he got the US $8 million that he claims to have been keeping in a government account. Chiluba has even threatened to claim it back from the government, suggesting that it was not spent. But this is Chiluba for you, full of contradictions. And that is what lies do to those that rely on them.

Chiluba is not embarrassed by holding contradictory positions. In his attack on the Task Force the other day, he said although he did not respect outcomes for court cases handled by the Task Force, he respected the judiciary. How this is possible, only Chiluba seems to understand. How can you respect an institution but disrespect its actions of decisions? It is Chiluba’s usual way of trying to slither between contradictory positions and hope to get away somehow.

How can Chiluba claim to respect the judiciary but at the same time does not respect its judgments because they originate from matters investigated by the Task Force? If Chiluba’s logic was extended to all of us, none of us would respect any court decision because they usually arise from matters taken to court by people we don’t respect or like. People who take us to court are not usually our friends.

But this is what the courts are there for – to hear cases fairly and objectively regardless of where they come from or of who originated them. The same courts Chiluba says he respects have agreed – almost 100 per cent – with the work of the officers who worked at the Task Force. And in this regard, the courts have convicted almost everyone, except Chiluba himself, who was taken before them. And among the people convicted is Chiluba’s own wife who he admitted giving money.

The only decision of our courts Chiluba has accepted is his questionable acquittal – and nothing else. If truly Chiluba respected our courts, as he claims, he would have serious difficulties not accepting their decisions on the corruption cases in which his wife and many of his friends have been convicted. In truth, what Chiluba doesn’t like are the convictions of these courts.

Chiluba has also claimed that although he respected the judiciary, he emphasised that the judiciary should not be tainted with illegalities and political interference. Is Chiluba telling us something we don’t know about our judiciary?

Is Chiluba telling us that our judiciary is tainted with illegalities and political interference? If so, in which way? Can he show us some examples where our judiciary has shown to be tainted with illegalities and political interference and who is behind those illegalities and political interference? This is not a matter that should be taken lightly. It is a very serious allegation that Chiluba as former head of state is making.

But Chiluba should really be the last person to speak about political interference in the judiciary. What did he do with the former chief justice Mathew Ngulube? Paying money to a sitting chief justice for no discernable services seems okay if it is done by Chiluba. That is what Chiluba seems to be telling us.

Just in case some of our people have forgotten, it is important for us to state that even the problems that Chiluba is facing today were born out of his abuse of the judicial process. When Chiluba felt aggrieved by articles published in this newspaper, he decided to unleash the full force of our police on this newspaper’s editor, a journalist and two parliamentarians.

They were hunted like dangerous criminals and taken to court for calling Chiluba a thief. Chiluba abused his presidential powers and made the police behave so unprofessionally. It is in defending this newspaper’s editor and the other people accused with him that Chiluba’s crimes became clear for our people to see.

It is that case that led to the lifting of his immunity and his eventual prosecution. But Chiluba is incapable of learning. He forgets very easily. His arrogance denies him the ability to learn from his mistakes. Anyway, there is no way Chiluba can talk about our judiciary with any credibility. What respect can Chiluba claim to have for our judiciary?

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At 11:29 AM , Anonymous Dinah Menil said...

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