‘Remove presidential immunity from the Constitution’

Presidential immunity from prosecution saves no meaningful purpose and must be removed from our Constitution. Any law that places an individual, regardless of the national importance of his or her job, above the law is no good law.

We say no one is above the law but, in truth, the presidential immunity places the individual who occupies the presidency literally above the law. No law should place any individual above the law. Presidential immunity places a president above the law. No one should have immunity to face the law.

The call by Lewis Mwape, the executive director of the Zambia Council for Social Development, for the removal of presidential immunity from the Constitution deserves serious meditation and reflection.

“Zambia Council for Social Development acknowledges that modern democracy and politics may demand that leaders become more accountable and citizens must hold them accountable at all times. When we say leaders, we mean from politics both opposition and ruling, from corporate, both private and public, from NGOs, from church leaders and spheres of leadership. As an organisation, we are of the view that no one must have immunity to face the law or to be held accountable even through legal means,” says Mwape.

“We therefore call on Zambians to demand for removal of presidential immunity from our Constitution! Criminals must not be legally protected by the Constitution of the land. For the nation to be successful in the fight against corruption and establishment of accountable governance systems, all institutions must be unanswerable to the judicial processes, including the President while in office. Presidential accountability must not be an act of harassment by incumbent leadership but by the lawful systems that would be able to hold presidents accountable whilst in office.”

Presidential immunity is today being used to shield the corruption and other abuses of the president. If you are president, you can steal with impunity; rob others of liberties and property with impunity. A nation which is incapable of punishing a criminal president is a lost one. Presidential immunity is today being used to shield the corruption and abuses of public institutions by the president and his league. The president and his minions commit crimes and abuse public assets and resources with impunity.

And in addition to this presidential immunity, the president is the appointing authority for all law enforcement officers, including judges. In this way, the president and those around him become untouchable and can get away with any crime or abuse. Look at the way the presidency has protected judge Sunday Nkonde from prosecution for stealing Tedworth money! The Anti Corruption Commission have all the evidence required to prosecute judge Nkonde but they can’t move because he is part of the criminal league of State House. Look at how quickly the Attorney General moved in to protect judge Nkonde from appearing before the Judicial Complaints Commission through a clearly corrupt consent judgment! Look at the way the presidency has protected judge Nkonde from being made to account before the Judicial Complaints Commission over his clearly corrupt liquidation of The Post in league with State House and Lewis Mosho! Look at how the presidency has abused the police to confiscate a small printing press that was being used to print The Mast and one which the evidence clearly shows who the owner is! Look at how the police has continued to hold on to a boat and an automobile they very well know are privately owned by an individual! The reason for this: the owner is an enemy of the President who must be fixed, humiliated, harassed and inconvenienced regardless of what the law says.

The police know that what they are doing is wrong and unlawful but they have to obey State House orders. The magistrates and judges are allowing these abuses to play themselves out because they are afraid of being seen to be standing in the President’s way. In this way, illegality, criminality is perpetrated. In this way, you can have a criminal in State House committing all sorts of crimes with impunity.

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