VETERAN politician Vernon Mwaanga says ‘illegal ministers’ not paying back and dragging their feet is creating an impression that there are two sets of laws – for them and for ordinary citizens.
“This is wrong,” Mwaanga said in statement on Sunday.
“Yes, President Edgar Lungu is the one who told the ministers to stay on in office after Parliament was dissolved. But this is an internal party matter which they should resolve; but to pay back the money is a must. It is a choice-less choice for them.”
He stated that one of the important basic concepts underlying the rule of law was that the rights and responsibilities of Zambians should be subjected to a set of rules: “which must be enforceable and not to arbitrary actions by those in power.”
Mwaanga stated that the rule of law also required a fiercely independent and just legal system, which must protect citizens from unjust actions and punish the aggressors for their acts of aggression, without fear or favour.
“Once courts of law have passed judgment, as they did in the case of ministers who were made to overstay after Parliament was dissolved in 2016, they have an unfailing obligation to obey the court by paying back public funds they earned unlawfully during that time,” Mwaanga stated.
On politically-instigated violence in the country, he said the vice was primitive and evil.
Mwaanga said the vice destroyed countries or reduced them to failed States.
Last week on Thursday, Catholic Bishops warned that if political violence was not tamed, it would consume every Zambian.
Mwaanga stated that those in the government and leaders of opposition political parties should not trivialise the Bishops’ warning.
“We should not allow our country to degenerate to that level, simply because this new crop of political leaders has clearly failed to deal with violent elements in their political parties by punishing them,” he stated.
“A grim peep into the report of the commission into voting patterns and violence during the 2016 tripartite elections clearly points an accusing finger at political parties. This is totally unacceptable and our leaders, particularly our Republican President Mr Edgar Chagwa Lungu, must show the way by stamping out violence in his party, PF, and the nation as a whole.”
Mwaanga recalled that president Levy Mwanawasa: “walked the talk” by warning MMD members to desist from violence and other lawless acts.
“[He] vowed not to protect them in the event that they got involved in any of the obnoxious activities,” Mwaanga stated.
He also welcomed the call by UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema for dialogue with President Lungu, “to address the many problems facing our country.”
“I equally welcome the response by President Lungu’s spokesman (Isaac Chipampe). Let the dialogue begin because we are sick and tired of empty talk.”
He added that dialogue should be inclusive of other political parties, particularly those represented in Parliament.
“Our political leaders must show maturity for a change and put our country first and not their personal egos. Zambia is facing many serious problems ahead of the 2021 general elections, which require urgent solutions. Meaningful dialogue is absolutely essential in a nascent democracy like ours,” he stated.
“It has served our country well in the past. As the old adage goes ‘those who ignore history become blind to the future’.”
Mwaanga further observed that it was evident that the benefits of dialogue were being underestimated by those who did not believe in it.
“This is made worse by reluctant democrats who are being dragged into the 21st century kicking and screaming. It is these elements who more often than not are confused about their own roles,” Mwaanga stated.
Meanwhile, Mwaanga lamented that more recently, “we have had some misguided misfits engaging in hate tribal utterances, which must not be given any credence in our country.”
“The disappointing part is that the perpetrators of this tribal hate speech are not being punished. Hate speech in whatever form or shape must be crimilalised because if it is not dealt with firmly and decisively, our country could degenerate into an unwanted civil war,” warned Mwaanga.