Thursday, September 05, 2013

Mutelo's anger is understandable
By Editor
Sat 10 Aug. 2013, 14:00 CAT

Misheck Mutelo, who in September 2011 was elected member of parliament for Lukulu West but had his election nullified by both the High Court and Supreme Court, and whose re-election in the by-election that followed is today being challenged, is wondering what's going on and is asking many questions.

Mutelo is also making a number of insinuations and is raising allegations against others. Mutelo is angry, and his anger is understandable.

Mutelo is a very humble citizen of Lukulu. And from selling cell phone talk-time, Mutelo made it to become an honourable member of our National Assembly. This is not a small achievement. If Mutelo had managed to remain in Parliament, he was going to be a good example to all our young people of how our doors are open for progress to all citizens.

We don't believe that although Mutelo's parliamentary seat was nullified on account of him engaging in corrupt and illegal electoral practices, he is inherently corrupt. And as he himself puts it: "What's wrong for me to represent my people? When I contested first, I was not the incumbent member of parliament for Lukulu West. Where would I have gotten money to corrupt the people? I meet the qualifications of being a member of parliament. The question is: was I really corrupt? We had gone to the High Court, Supreme Court and then another court here - the people themselves who have given their judgment. Why would you want the person to suffer?"

Mutelo's frustration and anger is understandable. This was a humble citizen earning his little commission from the sale of talk-time in Lukulu. Then in 2011, the corrupt leadership of the MMD landed on him with everything. And truly the MMD of 2011 under the leadership of Rupiah Banda was awash with money and with everything that could easily corrupt weak souls - and indeed many weak souls were corrupted. They ran the most extravagant election campaign in the history of this country. Many people in the MMD lost direction and even forgot what constituted corruption in normal life, let alone in an election campaign. They forgot their own laws, the laws they themselves had enacted.

The election petitions that we are today witnessing were not conducted under a law enacted by UNIP or by the Patriotic Front governments. It is a law that MMD itself enacted.

And the rule of law requires that everything, including elections, is conducted within what is permissible under the law. The MMD, its candidates, cadres and supporters behaved as if there was no such law. To say the least, they were politically reckless in every sense of the word. And that's why even with that huge amount of money that they had at their disposal for elections, they failed to win.

Mutelo is today paying for the recklessness of Rupiah and the entire leadership of the MMD that worked with him. They thought money was everything and they forgot that laws also matter.

It is therefore not true, as Mutelo tries to claim, that the Patriotic Front is bent on humiliating the opposition by ensuring that they lose their seats at all costs. It is the MMD, now in opposition, that created this situation for themselves. If they did not break electoral laws, there is no single petition that the Patriotic Front would win and force parliamentary by-elections. It is the MMD and its allies who created this situation for themselves.

Mutelo says it's clear that the Patriotic Front is bent on creating a one-party state. One can excuse the man from Lukulu because he doesn't seem to understand how a one-party state is created. The Patriotic Front could not have stopped Mutelo from being a representative of the people of Lukulu West in Parliament if he had not engaged in corrupt or illegal electoral practices. It is not the Patriotic Front that sent him to commit the electoral wrongs he committed.

It is not good to blame other people for the problems that we have created for ourselves. You reap what you sow. If you engage in illegalities, you can be assured that one day, you will come into conflict with the law and you will be sorted out.

Today, Mutelo is asking why they want him to suffer. It is not a question of wanting him to suffer; it is a question of abiding by the law. We have many of our fellow citizens suffering in prisons today. And it is not that we want them to suffer; it is simply a question of society not accepting wrongdoing and giving it immunity, but punishing wrongdoers in order to create a more just, fair and humane society. Even in God's scheme of things, wrongdoing is punished. Those who sin are punished in hell. Could that be interpreted as an expression of hatred on God's part?

We were taught that there was a constant struggle between good and evil, and evil had to be punished. We were also taught that those who committed crimes and were responsible for injustice, evil, had to be punished.

Mutelo should admit that wrongs were committed in his former party's election campaign. And this extended to his own election campaign in Lukulu West. And the High Court and the Supreme Court have found that to be the case. And these are courts which were to a very large extent constructed by his own party - the MMD - that sponsored him as a candidate in the 2011 elections. What is his complaint?

We understand Mutelo's disappointment but this should not lead him to careless talk because careless talk can sometimes be very costly. Mutelo today is turning his frustrations into tribalism and regionalism - the philosophy or outlook of his current political party, UPND.

Mutelo says, "No wonder the Lozis are saying, 'we are alone'. Tell me, has there been a by-election in Muchinga, Northern or Luapula? Which by-election has come from those places? So people are reading between the lines." Which Lozis is Mutelo talking about who are saying "We are alone"? Let Mutelo look at the facts objectively and manage his disappointments. There is nothing tribal about these election petitions. It is only his head that is polluted with tribalism.

And it is this tribalism that has driven him to where he finds himself today. Mutelo ran a corrupt parliamentary election campaign and he should just accept the consequences of it. Tribal arguments won't help him and his political party.

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