Bombasa Fyapena: Why We Must Not Blame the Law When Our Politics Go Berserk
By Munshya wa Munshya
Over the issue of the lifting of Rupiah’s immunity, we are conflating too many issues and I am afraid it is becoming confusing for me. I have not said that what parliament did was FAIR. I have not even supported the action of parliament. I have not said what they said was good for the country. I have not said Kabimba and Sata are sincere about what they have done.
In my earlier article on parliament’s lifting of Dr. Rupiah Banda’s immunity, I was merely evaluating the legal and constitutional perspective of whether the Speaker was right at law to go on with the motion. I drew the conclusion that the Speaker was right taking into account Article 43(3) and the case of Chiluba v Attorney General (2003). I do understand that parliament rushed through what they did, but that is not a problem of law, but of politics. We have to agree on something before we suggest some changes we want to see in Zambia.
The removal of immunity is happening within a political and legal framework. If the argument is about politics, I would be the first to admit that the action was politically controversial, but this controversy should not be attributed to law or constitution. That was the point I was trying to put across. MPs are confusing matters and conflating too many matters. If they want to argue that the Speaker was wrong they better get what exactly the Speaker did wrong. If it is a legal wrong then they are sadly mistaken I am afraid.
I am for justice. I am for fairness. For example, I have written to defend people like Kay Figo when the law could not defend her. I have written for women’s rights and I have urged the male dominated Zambian politico to respect women like Dora Siliya. I am for Zambia. But please do not make into an enemy. I am on your side with regard to where we are politically as a nation. My legal opinion that the Speaker was right must not be taken to mean that I then support what he did. Obviously, I do not. But I am very concerned though with some positions that my colleagues have taken. It disturbs me for some of our people to treat immunity like a fundamental human right. Banda or Sata do not obviously have a fundamental human right to immunity. Immunity is a creature of our laws and our constitution. Immunity is not our master, we are its master. Immunity should not divide us.
In any case, the people of Zambia voted in the last election for a parliament that was going to bring checks and balances on the executive. Parliament is a creature of our laws and constitution. Each MP is part of the legislative arm of government. But when they got to parliament, our MPs sold out to the executive. They decided to join the other side and betray us by voting on motions that some of us never supported, those motions I am afraid could include the motion to remove RB’s immunity. Had these MPs not sold out, RB would still have his immunity intact. This issue is a political issue, why is it that we always like to fault the law when our politics go bonkers? Why aren’t we outraged at these MPs the same way you are outraged at me for just pointing out that what Matibini did was within his constitutional mandate?
Unfortunately, regardless of how we feel about the fallen politics, when RB goes to court, he will have to deal with legal questions and not political questions. Dr. Rupiah Banda cannot use political arguments to deal with legal matters. Politicians had a role to play in parliament and obviously they never helped him, instead they sold out to Sata by a loaf of bread. That is the kind of debate we need to be having. We are a nation and should be a nation of laws. But if politics betray us, please let us not for a moment heap the blame of the laws. I want to make it clear – I do not support the PF government. I am its critic. But what happened in parliament was a matter that dealt with politics as well as laws, and my position was simply one sided – the question of law.
The hypocrisy of politicians is becoming nauseating to me. Where were they when Article 43(3) was being drafted? Where were they when Chiluba v AG (2003) was being passed? Where were they when the 1996 Constitution was being passed? Did not Hichilema say Banda was corrupt in the run up to the 2011 elections? What has changed now?
I am aware of the misdeeds of Sata and his minions and I have highlighted in my small way on my blog www.eliasmunshya.org the misdeeds of this government. I have said it that President Sata has appointed the most nepotic and tribalistic cabinet in the history of our country. I have mentioned that President Sata has no proper plan for Zambia. I have struggled with issues of his political legitimacy. However, Zambia is bigger and greater and we should allow ourselves to look at issues from different perspectives. I had to answer like this because there are many other of my fellow compatriots thinking I am taking too much of a legal side.
For now Rupiah Banda is in court. But legally, I do not think he will be successful. Saying so, however, does not and should not in any way mean that I am siding with injustice. I am merely siding with a reality that President Banda’s immunity has been legally removed from him and he must now begin preparing his defence if at all he will be prosecuted. We are on the same side – let us never forget that.