Presidential immunity

Sanity has finally come to prevail in the manner immunity will be removed from former Presidents. 

This was one of the most abused articles in the Constitution that saw he needless humiliation of innocent former Presidents who should not have been subjected to such degradation and inhumane treatment at the hands of a cabal that usurped State power for its own political, financial and egoistical gain and interests.

No longer will former Presidents be subjected to humiliation and ridicule championed by reckless and corrupt individuals who prey on the misfortune of others to enrich themselves and destroy the good character of others.

The new Constitution provides that any allegation of impropriety requiring the removal of immunity should be instituted in an open, transparent and legislative manner.

This time the National Assembly will then constitute a select committee to scrutinize the grounds submitted and determine whether or not there was a prima facie case established.

More importantly the former President will have the right to appear, be represented and be heard before the select committee.

It is only after this process that the committee will make a recommendation to the National Assembly where a two thirds majority vote by Members of Parliament will remove such immunity.

Another important addition is the provision that where immunity has been removed the former President will be charged with the offence for which the immunity was removed.

This effectively removes the mischief and an abuse that characterized previous immunity removals, where the cartel convicted victims in the court of public opinion through negative media coverage but prosecution was on totally different charges unrelated to immunity removal.

The new Constitution also makes a very important point by ensuring that once acquitted the former President’s immunity was restored immediately without any further proceedings.

These are very important inclusions that will stop the abuse that has characterized prosecutions of former Presidents which were based on malice and deliberate misrepresentation of the law to wreak political vengeance in the guise of criminal prosecution.

It is difficult to understand how both the High Court and Supreme Court could have rejected appeals by President Chiluba who challenged the procedure which removed his immunity without according him an opportunity to be heard.

This is a cardinal right for any individual to be heard before any action, punitive or otherwise, is taken.

It is interesting that the same people who vehemently opposed Dr. Chiluba and Mr. Rupiah Banda’s request to be heard are now themselves asking the courts to hear them before they are investigated.