The Lusaka High Court’s discharge of an ex parte court order granted to Rae Zambia restraining Tullow Zambia from conducting oil and gas exploration in Block 31 in Kasama raises many questions about the independence and integrity of our judiciary deserving honest answers.
Rae Zambia on August 8, three days before the Tullow launch in Kasama which was widely publicised, obtained an ex parte order restraining the latter from conducting any explorations on Block 31 already awarded to it under licence number PEL/007. But Edgar Lungu on Friday went against the court order granted in favour of Rae Zambia and launched the Tullow Zambia Block 31 Oil and Gas Exploration in Kasama.
It is hereby ordered that Tullow Zambia BV by itself, servants, employee, agents, contractors or workmen, subsidiary or associated entity or otherwise is hereby strictly enjoined and restrained from undertaking or engaging in any petroleum exploration activities of whatever nature and description with respect to the area particularly and known as block 31 located in the Northern Province in the republic of Zambia,
the court order which was stamped August 8, 2017 and signed on August 10, 2017 stated.
“Tullow Oil is therefore expected to comply with this order. Tullow Zambia BV is restrained from interfering with the appellant’s right to enjoy the benefits conferred on it under the Petroleum Exploration Licence number PEL/007 pursuant to the provisions of section 13 of the Petroleum (Exploration and Production) Act No. 10 of 2008; and that Tullow Zambia BV complies with this order forthwith. It is further ordered that this matter is heard inter-partes on the 25th day of August 2017 at 09:00 hours.”
State House says they were not served with the order before the Tullow exploration project was launched:
“The Attorney General has not been served with this order neither has Tullow [Zambia BV]. Tullow was informed by phone after the launch that a court order had been issue on 11th August. In any event the restraining order is against Tullow but served on AG who has nothing to do with exploration work! This one is a classic case of something fish, anyway we wait until 25. Under the State Proceedings Act the state can never be restrained from carrying out executive functions later on (sic) the president. In this case that order was not served on anyone before the launch.”
And on Monday, August 14, the Lusaka High Court discharged its order which was supposed to be heard inter partes on August 25. If this was the first time such a thing was happening, one would give them the benefit of doubt and let it pass without question. But this is a president and a government that has a reputation of ignoring court orders to achieve its goals.
We have not forgotten how a High Court order was ignored and got the Director of Public Prosecutions Mutembo Nchito arrested and detained in Chongwe. Edgar wanted Mutembo removed as Director of Public Prosecutions at any cost and was not ready to be stopped by a court order.
We have also not forgotten how Edgar ignored an order of the Tax Appeals Tribunal to reopen The Post and got its editors arrested and detained for trying to enforce it. To this very day, they have never been charged with any offence for which they were arrested and detained.
This is a president and a government that doesn’t accept to be limited by a court order to do anything. Whoever or whatever tries to stand in their way is crushed like a tonne of bricks.
And a very strange jurisprudence is being created by our courts to suit their desires, to justify or legalise their lawlessness. Very strange decisions, with very serious consequences, have been made by our courts just to help Edgar get rid of Mutembo. Equally, recently, a very absurd decision was made by the Supreme Court to stop the Tax Appeals Tribunal of granting stays. Imagine the consequences of this on businesses! But it is not difficult to see the purpose and target of this very strange jurisprudence.
And another strange jurisprudence was created stopping the Director of Public Prosecutions from taking over private prosecutions just to fix one litigant. Anyway, it boomerang in the contempt complaints brought by Hakainde Hichilema and the Constitutional Court had to reverse it. We are increasingly seeing special purpose judgments coming from our courts designed to give Edgar and friends what they want. This is lawlessness. And lawlessness is lawlessness. Neither necessity nor urgency is an excuse for lawlessness.
We’re in a state of crisis where our nation is literally ripping apart at the seams right now, and lawlessness is occurring in every area of human endeavour. And we’re seeing the fulfillment of the Book of Judges here in our own time, where every man doing that which is right in his own eyes – in other words, anarchy. Injustice and lawlessness are the greatest terror a government can ever enforce on its own people. Illegality will never solve the problem of political lawlessness. We need a leadership that is steered only by its conscience, not lawlessness.
The spirit of graft and of lawlessness is today the Patriotic Front government spirit. When people do not have moral principles, then their lawlessness is not controlled.
And there’s complicity of the judiciary in this lawlessness. Edgar and his minions may hate the fact that the law gets in the way of their agenda, but it’s up to us all to take bold action and stop this lawlessness. Justice suffers when people refuse to stand firm for what is right. If we don’t fight lawlessness, it prevails. If we don’t establish the truth in our nation, truth becomes foreign in the country. God says there is no person when there is nobody who stands for the truth. God gave us His spirit for us to have the power and authority to uproot lawlessness and establish righteousness. If we don’t fight lawlessness, it prevails. When a nation with a great history of the rule of law is plagued by unprecedented lawlessness, then it’s time for new type of leadership. And lawlessness doesn’t end quickly; it is a self-perpetuating, ever-expanding habit. What we need in this country is not lawlessness but wisdom, and a feeling of justice.
The end of an age is always a time of turmoil, cynicism, lawlessness and distress. But it is also an era of heightened challenge and creativity, of issues, and their broad scope, never has our nation faced a more demanding and exciting crisis. This then, above all else, is the great and challenging era to live in, one requiring fresh and vigorous thinking; indeed, a challenging time to be alive.
With the tools of democracy, democracy is today being murdered in our country and lawlessness is being made “legal” by the courts. Raw power is ruling, and its only real goal is to destroy all other powers beside itself. What can defeat this lawlessness is discipline and consciousness. If the politically powerful either practice or connive at the systematic violation of laws that seem to them to cross their convenience, what can they expect when the lesson that convenience is a sufficient cause for lawlessness has been well learned by others?