MMD president Nevers Mumba has suggested that Republican presidents only be given partial immunity, which should not cover criminal activities while one is in office.
This is contained in his tribute to late Republican and MMD president Frederick Chiluba who died eight years ago.
Mumba stated that Chiluba was God’s instrument to beat a brand new path for Zambia.
“A path to new freedoms. Freedoms which would later unleash the amazing potential of the Zambian population,” Mumba noted.
He stated that Chiluba “was neither an angel nor was he perfect, but he was a ready instrument in God’s hands.”
Mumba stated that Chiluba gave to Zambia and to its future the virtues of democracy and the declaration of Zambia as a Christian nation.
“In fact, he believed that democracy which is not undergirded by Christian virtues was a destructive ideology,” Mumba, a former Republican vice-president, stated.
“He understood that without democracy, there would be no individual freedoms and without freedom, there would be no innovation and without innovation, there would be no meaningful development. But he also believed that only the virtues of Christianity would tame such a permissive system of government. So, today as a party, we join the rest of the country to celebrate a life whose courage gave us the liberalisation we see in every sector.”
Mumba, however, stated that Zambia has never had a perfect President as all the six heads of state so far have been mortal men with great human flaws.
He stated that what was indisputable was that God uses ordinary people to do some extraordinary things.
“As a nation, we have to focus on the positive contributions of every leader and highlight those positive contributions for future generations of Zambians. Most heroes have great personal flaws but God used them anyhow. I have always been against demonisation of leaders after they leave office, it’s a practice which injures our prospects for national unity,” Mumba stated.
“To cure this disruptive culture, I am of the view that we must only provide partial immunity to presidents. Immunity should only cover those constitutional breaches made in order to protect the Zambian people and the security of the nation. If a sitting President is involved in criminal activities while in office, those should not be covered by any immunity. This was well demonstrated in South Africa where President Zuma was removed from office in order to allow for the due process of the law. Going after former presidents for the sake of it is retrogressive. In most cases, it has been proved to be nothing but political witch-hunt.
“In 1994, during our annual Victory Ministries Conference in Lusaka, I was distraught at how the new MMD administration was treating former president Kenneth Kaunda. I decided to invite both Dr Kaunda and President Chiluba to come and shake hands in reconciliation and pledge to find a peaceful way to resolve the rift that had grown between them. Then Vice-President Godfrey Miyanda came to represent government. This reconciliation service was televised live on ZNBC and left tears of joy in our eyes.
“In 2003, while I served as Vice-President, I again was distraught with the manner in which President Chiluba was being treated after the removal of his immunity. Again, I approached President [Levy] Mwanawasa to see how we could handle the matter differently. President Mwanawasa was of the view that if former president Chiluba could return a percentage of what had been alleged to have been taken from the State, he would consider looking at other legal provisions to end the matter. He assigned me to meet president Chiluba and get his views. President Chiluba was grateful for my concern but advised me that, he was not prepared to be forgiven outside court as that will continue to be a black spot on his legacy. He asked me to thank the president for the thought but insisted that he would wait for the court process. The courts finally discharged him. At this point the court restored his legacy. This is the legacy we are eulogising today.”
Mumba also stated that Rupiah Banda was also committed to a long court process.
He noted that the only presidents who survived the deadly “end of term” humiliation were late Mwanawasa and Michael Sata, who both were saved by death.
“While I am of the view that anyone who commits a crime must be committed to the court process, I am of the view that we can manage this practice by limiting the immunity of presidents to only matters of national security so that cases of a criminal nature are prosecuted freely when one still holds office,” Mumba recommended.
He stated that every president had a summarised legacy and Zambians should honour them accordingly.
Mumba stated that Chiluba used the MMD as the vehicle to transform the country into a multiparty state and a Christian nation.
He stated that as MMD leader, he remained humbled to lead the party, which had a strong and rich history owing to sacrifices of Chiluba and all his colleagues who fought alongside him.
Mumba stated that the failures of MMD along the way, “which are many”, were human and common in all political parties.
“Mr president, since you left us eight years ago, your organisation has faced several setbacks. In 2011, the party experienced the first electoral loss since its founding. I was given the charge by the general membership to steer the party in the opposition waters. Most of our members had never been in the opposition since they joined politics, so the journey has been tumultuous for some of them. Today, your party is in court to resolve an infringement on the constitution you had crafted for us,” Mumba stated. “Amazingly, this difficult journey has brought us so much strength to face the future with great expectations. In my personal meditation, I am reminded that our party has fought more vicious battles than the one we currently face. The split of the party in 1993 which resulted in the formation of the National Party and again in 2000 during the third term debate which resulted in a further split with FDD and Heritage Parties being formed. These were dark moments for the party, but under your leadership, you fought to keep the party alive until you handed it to the next president who helped to keep the party in government. With this history of resilience, I am encouraged that our current temporary setback shall soon be overcome. I am sure that as we celebrate your 9th anniversary next year, we shall have a great testimony for you, as one strong and vibrant family again. The God you served cannot fail.”
Mumba stated that the legacy Chiluba hands down to the nation are three great gifts of democracy, economic, social liberalisation and a Christian nation.
“These three gifts are the ones that are about to set Zambia apart and place her on top of the list of nations,” Mumba stated.
“The challenge before us is to find a way to combine these three and create for ourselves a unique, prosperous and God fearing nation. Unfortunately, democracy on its own is the most permissive system of government susceptible to abuse by the powerful and the corrupt. It usually diminishes the moral voice and magnifies the immoral voice. It gives an advantage to those who do not mean well for the nation and stifles those who are passionate about the nation. This is why the second gift of a Christian nation is critical. It remains for us now to infuse Godly values and virtues into the life blood of democracy. We have to create a new system of selecting leaders and governing ourselves which is peculiar to us. We must not copy and paste democracy.”
Mumba stated that Zambians must use democracy to produce home-made results of a moral and passionate leadership at each election cycle.
He noted that America, the greatest crusader for democracy, had to amend its democracy to suit their needs.
“The President of the United States of America is not elected by popular vote but the electoral vote. This is called domestication of democracy. Zambia must domesticate her democracy by insisting that Godly values guide the destiny of our great nation,” stated Mumba.