Thursday, September 05, 2013

Judiciary upsets the corrupt
By Editor
Mon 12 Aug. 2013, 14:00 CAT

Nevers Mumba is talking like a confused, desperate man. Indeed, Nevers has a lot to be desperate about. Things are not going well for him and his league. But this shouldn't be a licence for him to talk nonsense about other people.

It requires just a little memory, if a little is all one has, to remember that following the 2001 elections, Sikota Wina petitioned the election of Michael Mabenga as member of parliament for Mulobezi.

Indeed, the court found Mabenga to have engaged in corrupt or illegal electoral practices and had his election nullified. Mabenga could not re-contest that seat. But despite this, the MMD went ahead to elect him as chairman of the party. The Post opposed this and denounced the MMD for electing a person who had been found to be engaging in corrupt practices as its chairman. We have been very consistent on this score.

And equally, the MMD has been very consistent in its support for corruption. Today, the MMD is defending corrupt elements to continue being members of our National Assembly. This is not surprising because the MMD leadership has no problems with corruption. Rupiah Banda, who not very long ago was the MMD president, is today in court facing corruption charges. And its current president, Nevers, is also in court facing corruption charges.

Maxwell Mwale, whose seat was nullified for corruption both by the High Court and the Supreme Court, is also in court for corruption. Dora Siliya, whose election as a member of parliament was nullified by the Supreme Court, is also a subject of corruption investigations. The list is endless.

This issue has nothing to do with us. With or without us, the MMD still remains a political party that defends the corrupt and corruption.
Equally, their partners in the UPND don't have a problem with corruption. The UPND is today at the head of the column defending Rupiah's corruption. The UPND has even recruited Mwale, whose election as member of parliament was nullified by our courts of law for corruption. The UPND cannot even wait for Mwale to be cleared of his corruption cases in court. The UPND has no problem fielding corrupt individuals as members of parliament. They have always been ready to get corrupt elements from the MMD and field them as their candidates. They did this in Lukulu West with Misheck Mutelo; they wanted to do the same with Mwale in Malambo and they were courting Dora in Petauke Central. Corruption is not an issue with UPND as well.

Contrast this with the position of the Patriotic Front on this issue. There are people who tried to jump to the Patriotic Front and launder themselves. Here we are talking about people who had engaged in corrupt or illegal electoral practices under the MMD. The Patriotic Front has refused to adopt them for parliamentary seats. This is not a small feat in a country where politicians don't care much about corruption. And even if the Patriotic Front had joined the others in fielding candidates who have been found to be corrupt, our position would still remain the same. We have never hesitated to denounce corrupt elements and those who shield them whoever they may be.

Again, it doesn't require much memory to recall our position on the Patriotic Front when it gave sanctuary to Frederick Chiluba when he was being pursued for corruption. We denounced the Patriotic Front and Michael Sata for that. But this is what differentiates Michael from our other politicians: he listens to advice and changes course when necessary. Michael is not permanently wedded to wrong things. We all sometimes get things wrong. However, what differentiates us as human beings is our capacity for contrition and change. If something is wrong, it is wrong, and there is no need to cling to it.

Electoral corruption is wrong. And it doesn't matter who is involved in it or what their political affiliations are. A corrupt Patriotic Front politician is no different from a corrupt MMD or UPND colleague.
There are in our body politic many and grave ills, and there is urgent necessity for the sternest war upon them. There should be relentless exposure and attack upon every evil man whether politician or businessman, every evil practice, whether in politics, in business or in social life. We hail as benefactors every person who, with merciless severity, makes such attack, provided always that he in his turn remembers that the attack is of use only if it is absolutely truthful.

Nevers says they will ensure that Dora files her nomination papers tomorrow. How? Morally and legally, the position Nevers is taking is indefensible. If Nevers has no regard for the law as it has been interpreted by the Supreme Court, he should at least, as a pastor, have respect for morality. To try and insist on fielding a candidate who has been found to be corrupt speaks volumes of Nevers' sense of morality let alone his respect for the law against corruption. Anyway, this is understandable. This is a political party, a group of people, that had gone to Parliament to remove a law that punished corruption, abuse of public office and replace it with a law that permitted impunity when it came to corruption matters and other abuses of public office.

And Nevers is accusing the Patriotic Front of harassing MMD members through the Judiciary. How else can those in government deal with such abuses or illegalities if not through the Judiciary and the law? This is what the rule of law entails - taking matters to court and letting the courts decide.

But Nevers is also being dishonest on this issue. Wasn't the MMD government taking people to court? We want Nevers to answer this question in an honest way if there is still a bit of honesty remaining in him.

Anyway, all this is not surprising because the MMD is a party of corruption, and corruption defines the MMD's character as a political party.

Nevers is accusing us of being used by the Patriotic Front to churn out illegalities. What illegalities? We know the law a little bit more than Nevers to distinguish between what is legal and what is not. It is not legal to bribe the electorate and think one will get away with it. We are not for hire. We can never be hired out. Nevers and his friends were in government, they had state power and a lot of money at their disposal; did they hire us?

We freely choose to support that which we believe is right. And we sincerely believe that electoral corruption is wrong and must be opposed and eradicated from our politics and elections. Where there is electoral corruption and illegalities, people will not be able to freely choose their leaders. For our country to prosper, our politics should be cleansed of corruption, especially during elections.

Nevers is accusing us of misinterpreting the statement from the Judiciary. We are not clerks; we are reasonably educated people with the necessary experience required by the tasks we are performing. We have the duty to analyse things for our readers and not to leave them guessing what the stories we are publishing are about. The candidates whose elections were nullified by the Supreme Court are not so many; it is a small number of well-known people. This being the case, we have a duty to mention who these people are, and we mentioned them. What is wrong with this? One doesn't need a degree in law to realise that what we did was the right thing. There are a lot of things we know that Nevers may probably not know because he doesn't have the necessary qualifications, experience and exposure to these things. It is important for people in top political positions like Nevers not to express opinions or to give unilateral judgments on things or processes they don't fully understand or they know very little about.

Nevers says the Zambian people are upset with the illegalities we have been churning out over the last few days. Pastor Mumba, learn to be honest with yourself and others. Which Zambians are upset? Zambians don't support corruption to be upset by a campaign against corruption. It is you yourself, Nevers, who is upset and should learn to tell the truth.

We maintain that the individual does best in a strong and decent community of people with principles and standards and common aims and values. Today's politics should be about the search for a more just, fair and humane society. We must build the strong and active society that can provide that. We must work together for it. We cannot buy our way to such a society. We must plan for it together. We can't protect the ordinary against the abuse of power by leaving them to it; we must protect each other because this can only be done together.

Leaders lead, but in the end the people govern. Those who win elections should win not because their opponents are despised, but because they are better understood, supported, trusted. There should be no choice between being principled and unelectable; and electable and unprincipled.

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