Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Rupiah wants to enjoy his loot in peace

Rupiah wants to enjoy his loot in peace
By The Post
Wed 06 Mar. 2013, 11:20 CAT

Rupiah Banda says those calling for his immunity to be lifted must leave him to enjoy his retirement. Rupiah also says that he doesn't like the idea of lifting his immunity because it was detrimental to the development of the country.

And he adds: "I think it is not good for our country that each president that comes, an attempt to remove his immunity is made. In that case, then if there is no need for immunity, then remove it for all of us, so that whoever wants to investigate can investigate."

Rupiah has completely misunderstood the whole essence of having presidential immunity. That provision was put in our Constitution to protect our president from being distracted by continuous litigations for whatever he did or he said. It was also to protect the president from being sued for legitimate wrong decisions. This was as a result of the view that leaders aren't perfect people; neither are their followers. We will never have perfect leaders.

This immunity was not put in our Constitution to give our presidents a licence to abuse their office and rape the nation, steal public funds. It was put there to protect the integrity of the office of president. And there was recognition that being human beings, like any other, our presidents may fall short of expected behaviour and abuse their offices, steal public funds.

In such a situation, the Constitution provided for the removal of that immunity and to have the abuses investigated and prosecuted. What is wrong with this?

Of course, as we have already stated, we will never have perfect leaders. But integrity doesn't require perfection.

Rather, integrity demands that leaders and followers take responsibility for wrongs done and take steps to correct or make restitution for those wrongs. And at the heart of any assessment of biblical qualification for leadership lies the concept of integrity - that uncompromising adherence to a code of moral or other values that reveals itself in sincerity, honesty and candour and avoids deception or corruption. God-given capacity to lead has two parts: giftedness and character. Integrity is at the heart of character.

Integrity is a vital piece of leadership for anyone who is serious about establishing a leadership style and legacy that will impact the nation in a positive manner. That's part of the price of leadership - to be above reproach. If a mistake is made, then integrity demands that a leader takes ownership for it and makes it right.

In this generation where everyone is a victim and wrongs done seem to be no one's fault, there is a desperate need for men and women of integrity to lead the way. We need our leaders to hold on to their values and make decisions that are consistent with who they are and what they believe. We don't want them to sell out or cut corners hoping that no one is watching. That's not the way to become or remain a leader.

The Bible counsels us to prove all things, holding fast to those that are good (1Thessalonians 5:21).

Margaret Mitchell spoke this truth: "There ain't nothing from the outside that can lick any of us." James Alien added, "You will become as small as your controlling desire; as great as your dominant aspiration." Remember this: when you don't have strength within, you won't have respect without. If a person's aim in this world is right, he or she will misfire in the next.

Too many children are afraid of the dark, while too many adults are afraid of the light. William Hazlitt remarked, "If mankind would wish for what is right, they might have had it long ago." Roger Babson added, "If things are not going well with you, begin your effort at correcting the situation by carefully examining the service you are rendering and especially the spirit in which you are rendering it."

To know what is right and not do it - this is as bad as doing wrong. Nothing costs more than doing the wrong thing. The man who borrows trouble is always in debt. The best way to escape evil is to pursue good. The person who persists in courting trouble will soon be married to it.

It is important to remember what Levy Mwanawasa said when he went to Parliament to ask for the removal of Frederick Chiluba's immunity so that he could be investigated and prosecuted for corruption. Levy made it very clear that the precedent he was setting would be the one every other president, including himself, should be judged by. Levy was not scared of setting a precedent that would be used against him when he left office. Why? It is simply because he had no intentions whatsoever to abuse his office, to steal public funds to enrich himself, family and friends.

Equally, Dr Kenneth Kaunda had presidential immunity which was ignored by Chiluba and his property was searched at some warehouse in Lusaka because he was suspected of having stolen State House books and other items. Dr Kaunda could have easily instructed his lawyers to go to court, obtain an injunction and have the search stopped. But this revolutionary, this honest man, this apostle of our independence stood there the whole day watching Chiluba's men searching through his property. They found nothing.

Chiluba brought investigators from abroad to come and probe Dr Kaunda on suspicions that he had stolen public funds. Dr Kaunda was probed and he never complained about being probed without his immunity being lifted. But they found nothing.

We have no doubt that Michael Sata by seeking to have Rupiah's immunity lifted is adhering to a precedent that was set before him and he is not scared of having his immunity lifted when he leaves office because he has no intention whatsoever to steal.

Presidential immunity was not meant to protect thieving presidents.
This position of Rupiah is not new. Rupiah started preparing for this while he was in office. He made sure Chiluba went scot-free of all the cases, criminal and civil, that he was facing. And Rupiah made it very clear that he didn't want Chiluba to go to prison because that would set a bad precedent. Wrong precedent for who? We ask this question because Dr Kaunda had no problems with this. Levy had no problems with this. And Michael is not scared of being probed for any wrongdoings.

Rupiah knows very well that his immunity can no longer be protected by his friends in UPND and MMD. Hakainde Hichilema, who is today defending Rupiah's corruption and does not want his immunity lifted, does not have the numbers in parliament to stop it. And so is Nevers Mumba who appears to be totally dependent on Rupiah for survival, politically and otherwise. He too doesn't have the numbers in Parliament to stop the lifting of Rupiah's immunity.

It is surprising that a politician like Hakainde who used to accuse Rupiah and his sons of being corrupt is today against the lifting of Rupiah's immunity so that he can be prosecuted and give back to Caesar that which belongs to Caesar, give back to the people that which belongs to the people. For Hakainde, it is okay for Rupiah to keep his loot and for the people of Zambia to lose their money. What type of leadership is this? What type of person is this?

There are no good reasons for not having Rupiah's immunity removed. There is every good reason for the lifting of Rupiah's immunity and it should be lifted. Doing so doesn't set a bad precedent, it actually sets a good precedent so that our leaders know that it does not pay to abuse public resources and steal public funds.

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