President Lungu at the Freedom statue
By Dr. Munyonzwe Hamalengwa
President Lungu has literally destroyed the rule of law in Zambia in 18 months. Can you imagine what damage Lungu will do in 5 years? The behaviour of law enforcement agencies and the courts are reflective of government and state mood, encouragement, connivance and direction. There is no defence that it is the police or the ZRA that disobeyed the law. As long as there is no public sanction from the President, the action is deemed to have been committed at the direction of the state, in fact the origins of the conspiracy are directly from state house.
The following are a few examples of how Lungu has destroyed the rule of law. Many people have their own examples. If the following examples are not cogent to the phenomenon being described, let the reader explain why these examples are not indicia of the evisceration of the rule of law in Zambia.
1. There are PF cars and trucks that are being driven around by PF cadres that have no licence plate numbers. They are usually unruly and intimidatory on the streets. I was personally cut off by one of them when I had the right of way and the fellow looked at me menacingly when I protested by honking. I have been to many countries of the world including the height of the dictatorship in Nigeria and other places, including the dark days of Zambia’s One Party State System, I have never seen any car without a licence plate number. It is an offence anywhere in the world, but Zambia and only in relation to PF cadre driven cars.
The licence plate numbers perform many functions, including legal identification, to locate the vehicle that may have been involved in a crime or accident, for motor vehicle insurance purposes, for tax purposes and so on. Without a licence plate number, the driver of that vehicle can get away with Murder, crime, accident accountability and other matters. This lawless behaviour can encourage lawlessness from otherwise law-abiding individual.
The police do nothing to these lawless PF drivers. There is no way you can hold me accountable for a highway infraction when you don’t hold PF cadres who drive these cars without licences accountable. The cars still drive without licences and the government is doing nothing about it. It is because it is government action.
2. When Mutembo Nchito heard there was an arrest and search warrant for him in February 2015, he went to court to lawfully have it stayed. The police refused to obey the Court Order and went ahead and arrested and searched his house. That Order has never been set aside as of July 2016. Shortly after the police arrested Nchito and searched his house, the President suspended Nchito and instituted a Tribunal to get rid of him. There is a direct connection between these activities. It can be inferred with absolute certainty that the police arrest and institution of a tribunal to get rid of Nchito, came from State House. Don’t leave your common sense at home or office. Don’t be blinded by prejudice. Think outside the box. Don’t you see the connection. This lawlessness was created by Lungu. Nchito doesn’t know me, I don’t know him other than what I read in the papers, he is not my friend, but I am here defending the rule of law.
3. Lungu had threatened Post Editor M’membe last year. It was in the news. There was a bullet that went from the roof down into the Post offices. On the pretext of collecting owed revenue by the Post, the Post was closed down by ZRA. A revenue tribunal Ordered the ZRA to reopen the Post by handing over instruments and property that would enable the Post to operate. ZRA refused to obey a lawful Court Order. A Tribunal is a Court and its orders are as authoritative as any Order from a Court of Law. The President never reprimanded ZRA for disobeying a court Order up to now. This is because the machinations that triggered and sustained this stream of incidents is directly from State House. Don’t be blinded by hatred of M’membe or me being the messenger, I don’t know M’membe, he is not my friend, I like the Post, but I am here bemoaning the destruction of the rule of law by our President.
4. According to prominent Lawyer John Sangwa, all the Judges Lungu appointed to the new Constitutional Court are not constitutionally qualified to be on that Court. An unqualified judiciary is a recipe for the destruction of the rule of law. You don’t let a nurse do open heart surgery. If the result is successful, it is by sheer accident, otherwise you would hire someone actually trained and competent to do the job. To destroy the rule of law, you start by appointing an unqualified judiciary or a compromised judiciary. Shakespeare once said that if you want to kill democracy, kill all the lawyers first, because lawyers who are not compromised fight for the rule of law. Lungu starts from the head, the judiciary.
5. According to M’membe, all the judges who ruled in his favour in the past, have been overlooked by Lungu in the judicial appointments or elevation to the new Court of Appeal or Constitutional Court, but instead he has appointed new or unqualified judges to the Constitutional Court and Court of Appeal. This is a recipe for the depreciation of the rule of law. This is vengeful judicial neglect. This besmirches the rule of law. You can check this fact for yourself whether M’membe is lying. I checked it and I found it truthful.
6. There has been a spate of police and PF instigated killings of opposition members. Lungu has never specifically condemned any of these PF or police killings of political opponents by name. This is egregious lawlessness.
7. Which political members do you hear being arrested and constantly being brought to court? Only opposition members. Read the newspapers. Listen to ZNBC. What about PF cadres who are more violent and lawless and drive PF branded cars and trucks without licences in clear violation of the law, where are they. Don’t accuse me of political bias, I don’t belong to any political party. I am an advocate for the rule of law, regardless of who is in power.
8. The invasion of opposition offices and houses without warrant is reminiscent of the colonial and apartheid eras and the total disregard for the rule of law, but the PF lawlessness and driving vehicles without licences goes unpunished!
9. This is the tip of the iceberg. There is more where this comes from.
10. Sonta your own examples.
Lungu has destroyed the rule of law in 18 months. What will he do after five years. The damage will be astronomical.
Dr. Munyonzwe Hamalengwa teaches law in Zambia.