STATEMENT BY SAKWIBA SIKOTA, SC, PRESIDENT OF ULP ON MINISTER OF INFORMATION AND BROADCASTING SERVICES AND CHIEF GOVERNMENT SPOKESPERSON PRESS STATEMENT ON MR. ROBERT AMSTERDAM
We wish to take issue with Government’s distortion of Mr. Robert Amsterdam’s statement.
Mr. Robert Amsterdam did not attack and/or insult the people of Zambia.
Mr. Amsterdam at no stage said that Zambians are idiots. All he said according to press reports is that“…The two men (M’membe and Nchito) have already allegedly abused their powers to force the government to help them avoid paying back a debt to the Development Bank of Zambia, and now, they are asking citizens to play the role of ‘useful idiots’ to support the lifting of former president Banda’s immunity without even knowing why,”.
At no time did Amsterdam say that Zambians are idiots. It is an undeniable fact that the Post Newspaper is trying to find whoever will support their agenda on the immunity issue even if the persons they use have no idea of what exact wrongs President Banda is alleged to have committed.
There is a clique of persons who want to whip up sentiments against the former President. What Mr. Sakeni and people who are trying hard to sway the mood of Zambians into calling for the removal of immunity should do is to clearly spell out the particulars of the offences that they say President Banda committed. Todate we have not been given the “Matrix” of offences President Banda is alleged to have committed in the manner that the Post Newspapers did with former President Frederick Chiluba.
Mr. Sakeni himself has admitted that the State does not have a case to present to Parliament to call for the removal of President Banda’s immunity. What would you call a person calling for removal of President Banda’s immunity in the face of Mr. Sakeni’s admission that the State is still trying to gather facts to support such a move?
We wonder why some people are panicking to the extent of using fronts such as unprofessional tabloids and compromised NGOs to insult the dignity and integrity of the Zambian people by asking them to support calls for immunity when no clear case has been articulated to warrant such a move. In mideveal Europe trial by ordeal was used where people were tried without due process and asked to clear themselves by going through some horrific and irrational ordeal.
We believe that this government has been investigating President Banda since September 2011 and to date as confirmed by Mr. Sakeni they have not found a case worthy of bringing before Parliament. If the State cannot even articulate what wrongs President Banda is said to have committed how do they expect him to “clear his name”?
Mr Sakeni says that President Banda should wait for the due process of the law to clear his name. Article 18 of our Constitution, which contains provisions to secure protection of the law, has these important principles which we wish to remind Mr. Sakeni and the tabloids and NGOs he has enlisted to do his work;
(a) the presumption of innocence. This means one should not talk of someone having to clear themselves when no competent court has found them with a case to answer.
(b) The right to be informed in detail the nature of the offence charged.
(c) The right to adequate time and facility for the preparation of their defense.
(d) The right to legal representation of ones choice.
(e) The right to a fair hearing where you do not have a compromised accuser or prosecutor.
(f) The right to be tried by a competent Court and not in the press. Our Courts are at Church Road and Chikwa Road and have not as yet been re-located to Bwinjimfumu Road.
It would appear that the State is hell bent on prejudicing the case against President Banda as everybody from the Republican President, his vice, the Chief Government Spokesperson and even NGO’s who should champion transparency and fairness are all making prejudicial statements and trying to whip up sentiments.
The former President through his lawyers requested the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) to set out what the allegations against their client were but the JIT failed to provide the information. How can the former President answer to charges that are not even disclosed to him?
This Government should demonstrate its commitment to the rule of law by upholding the principles set out in Article 18 of our Constitution. This includes ensuring that it does not deceive people with false news and attempt trials by headline.
President Sakwiba Sikota
21st February, 2013