Saturday, August 28, 2010

It’s Rupiah who should pack and go

It’s Rupiah who should pack and go
By The Post
Sat 28 Aug. 2010, 04:00 CAT

In life it is very important to be clear about things. It is also very important to value yourself at your right worth. It is very dangerous to over-value oneself and to exaggerate one's capacity or strength. And when one is embarrassed, it is not wise to try and hide one's humiliation by blaming others for self-created problems.

It seems to be a terminal illness for troubled African politicians to always blame their differences with the international community on imperialism. Even the most pro-imperialist African politicians – like Frederick Chiluba - will propound empty anti-imperialist rhetoric whenever they are called upon by the international community to account to their people for the way they are handling their resources and the way they are dealing with governance issues.

Even politicians who at one time or another were CIA agents, whenever they fail to meet international norms, they never hesitate to rattle anti-imperialist slogans. Yet these are the same people who cherish so much any little praise that comes from these same people they are referring to as imperialists or colonialists.

They will go round basking in whatever little glory they get from such praise. They will not hesitate to vuvuzela to their people how the donors are happy with them and their programmes; how the donors are happy with this and that they are doing; and how much the donors have given them for this and that project.

We are saying all this in the light of Rupiah Banda’s renewed unwarranted attacks on the donors. It seems that whatever Chiluba has done for Rupiah or has promised to do for Rupiah is so big that Rupiah is prepared to attack the international community in defence of Chiluba.

The international community and those of our people who are demanding that Rupiah and his band of minions pursue this matter to its logical conclusion are not asking Rupiah to do something required by the laws of England or any other donor nation.

Our people are demanding the implementation of the law of this land. And moreover, Rupiah cannot tell us that the London High Court judgment against Chiluba is a colonial judgment that should not be respected or accepted by the Zambian people.

This is a judgment that was obtained by the Zambian government in a case that was initiated by the same government acting through George Kunda, the then Attorney General and justice minister for our country. And today, this same George is Rupiah’s Vice-President.

Is Rupiah telling us something we don’t know about George that he is an imperialist agent? In saying all this and in asking all these questions, we are not in any way defending or justifying imperialism or colonialism. Imperialism has been weighed and found wanting and can never be justifiably defended. And the issue at hand is not imperialism.

If imperialism threatened our country in any small way, we wouldn’t need a clarion call from anyone to join the fight against it. Rupiah’s problem has nothing to do with imperialism. And Rupiah has no problem with imperialism just as much as he has no problem with corruption, regionalism, tribalism and other very dangerous vices that bedevil our politics today.

It is important for us to analyse what Rupiah has said very calmly because that will clearly show that Rupiah’s problem with the donors has nothing to do with protecting national integrity or our independence as he claims.

It is curious that one of the first points that Rupiah makes is why people are asking his government to appeal when, according to him, the government easily accepts cases that go against it? This seems to suggest, that judge Evans Hamaundu’s refusal to register the London High Court judgment was a decision that was in favour of the government. And those who are unhappy should accept it the same way that the government accepts judgments that go against it. This may appear to be a slip of the tongue but it isn’t.

In fact, it is what one might call a Freudian slip, meaning that Rupiah said something that was deep down his subconscious. In the spur of the moment, he said something that he should not have said. It is clear from this statement that Rupiah has fully accepted the role of being Chiluba’s defender. And this is to such a degree that he cannot distinguish between Chiluba and the government of the Republic of Zambia – to Rupiah, a victory for Chiluba is a triumph by the government of the Republic of Zambia.

This also arises from the fact that to Rupiah, the government and himself are not different, they are the same – a friend of Rupiah is a friend of the government of the Republic of Zambia. And equally, an enemy of Rupiah and his friends is an enemy of the government of the Republic of Zambia. Probably one can even correctly say that what belongs to the government of the Republic of Zambia belongs to Rupiah. This is the same mentality his friend Chiluba had. Chiluba got to a point where he could not distinguish between government funds, bank accounts and his personal ones – to him, everything was the same, they were all his.

The donors are not asking Rupiah to do anything that is against our people, that subjugates our people, something that humiliates them. Our people demanded the lifting of Chiluba’s immunity and his prosecution. And this was supported by almost all members of parliament, including his own Vice-President George. It was not the donors that demanded the prosecution of Chiluba, that initiated the London High Court litigation against Chiluba. It was our people and their elected representatives that did so.
Why should the defence of a thief who has stolen from our people require insulting donors who try to help our people in all sorts of ways? The donors are certainly not angels but in this case, they are standing on the side of angels – our poor people that Chiluba stole from. There is nothing wrong with the donors asking Rupiah to explain why his government has decided not to appeal against judge Hamaundu’s judgment. The only simple reason Rupiah has refused to appeal that judgment and is so annoyed with anyone pushing him to do so is because he considers it his victory.

Appealing against that judgment would rob him of his victory. And this is not the first time he has done this. In the judgment of magistrate Jones Chinyama acquitting Chiluba, Rupiah took the same position and defiantly told everybody who wanted him to appeal to go to hell and maintained that he was not going to appeal that judgment. And things have stayed that way.

It is a well known fact that Rupiah’s personal finances and those of his family members have improved tremendously since he became President – far beyond his earned income. But this cannot be said to be true about the majority of our people who are living in abject poverty. Rupiah’s false sense of security brought about by his government resources-driven personal financial improvement should not fool him into thinking that this country can do without the donors at this stage.

Even if we did not need the donors, there is a more decent way of dealing with friends when you no longer need their assistance or when you no longer want to continue your relationship with them. It is childish to go and start telling donors at the airport, on the steps of a plane to pack and go. This type of insolence will not lead us anywhere. And it just goes to show how uncouth and uncultured someone is. Moreover, these donors are not here at the pleasure of Rupiah and his friends; they are not here to serve the interests and desires of Rupiah and Chiluba.

They are here to help address the many problems that affect our people. They are here for solidarity with the Zambian people. International cooperation is needed by every country. Only a fool can think that there is a country in this world that can solve all its problems by itself – not even the United States can solve all its problems by itself.

We all need each other; we are all passengers on this one vessel called earth. We are bound together by this common destiny. And as we have stated before, no one has the right or will have the right to abuse the resources and human rights of his people and try to hide behind national sovereignity and expect the international community to accept that and stand by and watch.

It is a fact that even Rupiah’s government has accepted that public funds that were given by the international community to our health sector, for example, have been stolen, mismanaged, misapplied, misappropriated, misused and so on and so forth. And this is not the only sector where we have this problem.

We have experienced it in our road sector and other institutions of the state. What is wrong with those who have contributed this money speaking out when things are not going well or according to agreements? The truth is that corrupt elements don’t want to be questioned about their corrupt practices. What Rupiah is doing by defending Chiluba and his corruption amounts to corruption.

Rupiah has no right to chase donors from our country because it is not him who brought them here; he found them here and he will leave them.

Rupiah cannot tell us that he does not know that Chiluba stole from our people. And also George, his Vice-President, who took Chiluba to court in London cannot tell us that he doesn’t know that Chiluba stole from the Zambian people. But why are they defending him? They may have their reasons for defending Chiluba, their political consultant, but they should not expect other people, people of goodwill to join them.

Today, Rupiah wants to make the nation believe that he is sincere about fighting corruption. What corruption? He even has the audacity to accuse the British of refusing to bring fugitive Attan Shansonga. Is Rupiah’s government ready to prosecute Shansonga?

We ask this question because Rupiah’s government has decimated the state’s ability to prosecute these types of cases. This is why they disbanded the Task Force on Corruption and lied to the nation that they were fusing it into the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) when they knew very well that no such thing would happen. They have also rigged the ACC in such a way that it is a toothless bulldog that will only act if Rupiah and George say it is okay for them to do so.

This newspaper spent years reporting about the theft of copper and cobalt monies by known persons. Is Rupiah prepared to arrest those corrupt elements and have them prosecuted? His claim that they are serious about prosecuting people like Shansonga is nothing but a diversionary tactic meant to hoodwink those who don’t know much about these matters. The position of Rupiah’s government on corruption is to try and defend them.

The only ones that get prosecuted are those who they think are their enemies or where Rupiah finds it impossible to manoeuvre. Anyway, our people are watching; they do not need the donors to tell them that what Rupiah is doing is wrong. The donors have not done anything wrong. And the one who needs to pack and go is Rupiah himself.

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