I Object: Why Ms. Libongani should not come to Canada as Zambia’s High Commissioner

By E. Munshya, LLM, M.Div., MBA

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Elias Munshya, LLM, M.A., MBA, M.Div.

To all police officers, please serve Zambians impartially. Do not shoot the innocent. Do not curtail liberties of our people. Protect President Lungu just as much as you would protect others. If you do not behave well and choose to behave like monsters, note that the world is watching, and politicians will not protect you from the international backlash that will come your way.

Each pound of flesh adorning the skeletons of Zambian citizens is sacred. The blood flowing through the veins of our citizens is precious. The legs of our citizens do not need permission from anyone to crisscross the length and breadth of our sacred soils. Zambians have the constitutionally protected freedom of thought, and the freedom of association. Just as their blood flows freely in their veins, citizens must have the liberty to flow freely from Mongu to Milenge.

Those in power must be accountable to the people of Zambia. However, in a globalized world, accountability goes beyond Zambia’s geography. Leaders in Zambia who cannot be held accountable in Zambia, can be held accountable anywhere else on the planet. You cannot abuse Zambians in Zambia, and hope that you will get away from being accountable to Zambians not living in Zambia. Diaspora Zambians are not just “distant noisy makers”, they are part and parcel of the nation. Diaspora Zambians are as Zambian as those who are at home. If you mistreat Zambians in Zambia surely know that Zambians in the diaspora will hold you accountable.

Ms. Stella Libongani has been appointed as ambassador-designate to Canada after being dismissed as the chief of police. As a Zambian resident in Canada, I object to Ms. Libongani’s appointment. I would request the Canadian authorities to withhold their diplomatic accreditation for this particular ambassador designate.The government of Canada should be notified of the brutality of Zambia’s future diplomat coming to Ottawa who has presided over a police force in Zambia that has not respected individual liberties of our people.

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Stella Libongani

As Chief of Police, Ms. Libongani blocked Zambians from mingling freely. She insisted that Zambians needed permission from her in order for them to buy Chibuku at Chisokone Market. Those who did not get permission from her and her police force were allegedly brutally assaulted, shot at and grievously harmed. Armed police officers stormed into churches in April 2015 to cause mayhem and defile religious liberties. A citizen had his home searched and drugs planted on him during Ms. Libongani’s reign as police chief (she did not plant those drugs, however). While Libongani was police chief, police prevented citizens from visiting Chipata and Chingola, chasing them “nge mfuko isho bapepeka mubwendo”. When asked, Ms. Libongani used the Public Order Act as justification for why citizens of our republic should be chased “nga bakapanga”. Ms. Libongani is very educated. She ought to know that the Public Order Act in its current form does not justify police brutality. Nowhere in the Act, is it required for citizens to get permission from the state before they meet their neighbours in Chiwempala or before they go to Pick-n-Pay to buy half loaves of bread.

A police chief who was allegedly so reckless with the lives of Zambians in Zambia cannot possibly have the legitimacy to represent Zambians to Canada. The United Party for National Development (UPND) issued a statement on Ms. Libongani’s redeployment to Canada. Spokesman Kakoma hoped that Ms. Libongani would now learn from an advanced democracy like Canada how to respect liberties. I do differ with the UPND’s take on Libongani. Ms. Libongani cannot learn in Canada what she failed to learn in Zambia. UPND needs to be consistent in condemning brutality without acceding to President Lungu’s actions of passing the buck onto Canada for unrepentant suppressants of constitutional liberties.

There is nothing that Ms. Libongani will bring to Zambians who live in Canada. She cannot build or inspire confidence in the Zambians who study and work there. I do not in any way speak for all Zambians in Canada, but the thought that a police chief with a record of such grievous brutality will come to Canada should be a concern.

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Trigger happy?

Some are saying that Ms. Libongani was simply following orders in her brutality. If we are to believe that nonsense, then we must be all the more concerned. As an ambassador, she would still be getting orders. If she was not able to say no to illegal orders when she was police chief how would she be able to say no to illegal orders when she has diplomatic immunity in Canada? If she abused the Public Order Act in Zambia, what assurances are there that she will not abuse the law when she is in Canada? While I agree that President Lungu is responsible for all police brutality, he is by no means the only one responsible. Those who have control over state issued machine guns, bullets and bombs have personal responsibility for their conduct. Police officers cannot hide behind the shield of politicians to escape personal responsibility for their brutality. Those who wield guns, are personally responsible for each bullet that spurts from their AK 47s.

I suggest that President Lungu promotes Ms. Musata Kaunda Banda to full ambassador in Ottawa. That will save Zambia a lot of kwachas. Alternatively, Lungu could transfer the diplomat in Nairobi to Ottawa. She can fit in very well as she speaks French and her record at the police was superb. She is evidence that a lady can hold a huge gun but still respect constitutional liberties. Why not bring Muntemba to Canada, and then send Libongani to Zimbabwe? President Mugabe can throw a welcome bash for her.

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Suggested citation: Munshya E. (2015). I Object: Why Ms. Libongani should not come to Canada as Zambia’s High Commissioner. (www.eliasmunshya.org). Elias Munshya Blog (11 December 2015)

 

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8 responses to “I Object: Why Ms. Libongani should not come to Canada as Zambia’s High Commissioner

  1. Dont try to defade ms libongani.let other working in public offices take a leaf.surely the world z seeing u mr president

  2. Mr Munshya you are being unfair to Ms Libongani. The madam was just following what she was told. She need to protect her job as in Zambia we have scarce job available. She is responsible lady who need to care for her family. If she had gone against the wish of PF, she could have long gone and poverty would have set in. Yes right now you are being unfair to her by protesting over her appointment. She deserve it because she worked very hard to reach such level in police and she has done a lot for the good of the country and she has all rights to represent Zambia in Canada. Just because of what she was doing for PF who were and are her boss can not be reason enough to prevent her from taking up appointment in Canada. What we need to do is to deal with PF so that the learn to respect the rights of its citizen. Mr Munshya you are wrong to suggest or decide who should go to Canada to represent Zambia. It’s right of the republic of Zambia president to appoint any qualified person to such position. For to reject and suggest names for such position, you are inflinging on the rights of the president. It look like you have personal interest on this vacant position. Why can you not allow PF to whatever is right to them because at the end of the day they will be accountable to us Zambian and allow madam Libongani to take up the position because she has a family to look after and hard worked very hard to reach her level, yes she is human and she would have made mistakes here and there but that should not be reason enough to prevent her taking up that position. Pastor Munshya forgive her and let her work.

  3. Not taking away from this analysis Munshya but I find it not to be objective in certain parts. Especially when you suggest for suitable replacements. And have you ever thought about the danger that lies in letting anyone gathering or protesting any day they wish hefe in Zambia? I can tell you that even organisers of such rallies or protests themselves are not responsible. I do feel for the police here its a tough balancing act they uave to perform. The organisers be it political parties or otherwise don’t help the police in ensuring peace is maintained. The easiest and best police have found is to refuse people from protesting in order to protect everyone including the organisers or the same people wanting to criss cross the country like blood in their vains. And don’t just listen to those who cry the loudest. We who are in Zambia and see things first hand can not be duped but certain media houses and individuals who want to appear to be holier than than thou. The have selfish and hidden agendas. Today ask the person you claim drugs were planted at his residence and learn the truth. He is one of the few that have realised how they have been used by selfish individuals. I f ZP said let anyone do as they wish we are a free country Mr Munshya you would be writing about something different today. Rwanda would be nothing compared to what we can experience. I rather all rouble rousers are stopped than letting the neutral and the innocent suffer. Responsibility is lacking in most if not all activists in Zambia. First of all even the so called leaders are never at those protests. They ran away and protect themselves and their families whike innocent poor youths beat each other to pulp. They are not even there to condemn or stop the fights. But they always blame the police. Ms Libongani did the best she could under the circumstances. She is h7man and can make mistakes but not to the extent of blocking her future personal career development. If you do that then its nothing rather than hatred to the individual. Let us be objective and not subjective.

  4. A Zambian in Zambia

    Those names you are suggesting, none of them held that position, police chief so its unfair to make such comparisons. You might sound analytical but if followed, you are just hiding under those analysis. I do not support police brutality but it seems there is more to this. Do you even visit Zambia or you get your news online? Nevertheless, i will follow this issue with keen interest.

  5. Regardless; it’s very important that people, especially public officials learn that they are accountable to the people and their role is to protect the interests of Zambians.Every single person seeking public office needs to know and understand this basic fact.

  6. are you initiating a petition to the Canadian Government to not accept her credentials? that would be easier than getting them to change their minds in Zambia. If so….I’m in!!

  7. Lets just wait and see how powerful and influential you are Mr Munshya. If what you are claiming is really true that Ms Libongani abrogated the Public Order Act, surely she was going to be answerable because Zambia has its own law and no one is above the law. We are not suppose to judge others based on perception and likes. Why even suggesting the names of those you think can take up that job? Do not promote nepotism. Remember, its not in your powers to appoint so the one with such powers has already done so. I personally shall follow this issue closely and see what you will do. You can’t speak for every Zambian in Canada.

  8. Well stated. What steps do you plan to undertake?

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