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 2010-06-19 02:20 am Back to NEWS
EDITORIAL — Musonda’s prosecution: they have simply run out of options

Finally Rupiah Banda has run out of ideas or schemes on how to continue protecting Dr Solomon Musonda from prosecution.

They have tried very hard to ensure that Dr Musonda is not arrested and prosecuted over this matter despite increasing public pressure.

Rupiah’s reluctance to have Dr Musonda prosecuted is understandable. If Dr Musonda is arrested and prosecuted, he may be denied bail and be forced to stay away from parliament long enough to force a parliamentary by-election. And a successful prosecution of Dr Musonda will certainly result in a parliamentary by-election. We don’t think Rupiah and the MMD are ready for that. Although they won the last by-election in this constituency, they know very well that it will not be easy for them to win another one because the political terrain is changing very fast and in a manner that is not favourable to them.

But there was a limit to how far they could go in protecting Dr Musonda. There are many legal complications in what they were trying to do because there are alternative ways of seeking redress from Dr Musonda. The decision by Dr Musonda’s victim, Jackson Musaka, to demand K500 million compensation and if this is not paid to commence civil action in the High Court must have forced them to do what they did yesterday – drop Dr Musonda from government and allow the Director of Public Prosecutions to prosecute him. What the Director of Public Prosecutions is doing is not in conflict with their wishes; he is simply implementing the option they have chosen. This Director of Public Prosecutions, Chalwe Mchenga, doesn’t do that which this government doesn’t want him to do. He simply fulfils their wishes. If they want him to enter a nolle prosequi in favour of anyone, he will do so and he has done so before. The Kashiwa Bulaya case is a good example of this.

And if those in power don’t want him to prosecute anyone or want him to withdraw an appeal or any action against those they favour, Mchenga will not hesitate to do so. The corruption case against Frederick Chiluba is a clear example of what we are talking about.

Some may erroneously think Rupiah has for the first time succumbed to public pressure. Rupiah has no respect for public pressure; he doesn’t care about the feelings of the people. Rupiah’s decision to drop Dr Musonda and have him prosecuted has very little, if not nothing, to do with public pressure. It has everything to do with being outmanoeuvred by those assisting the victim. Rupiah has simply been outmanoeuvred.

But this is not the end of Dr Musonda politically or this matter. Opportunities will be created for Dr Musonda to get away with crime. One cannot expect the police or the Director of Public Prosecutions to prosecute this matter in a manner that will have Dr Musonda convicted. At every turn, opportunities will be created for Dr Musonda to escape conviction.

Patriotic Front president Micheal Sata visited the PF cadre who was shot in the head by Health deputy minister Dr. Solomon Musonda. — The Post

And the argument by Mkhondo Lungu, Rupiah’s newly appointed UNIP Minister of Home Affairs, that Dr Musonda’s case has taken long because the Director of Public Prosecutions was out of the country at the time the shooting incident occurred, does not make sense. If this was the way every shooting incident in this country was handled, very few people would be arrested and many criminals would have enough time to flee. The usual way is that when such a crime is committed, the person behind it is arrested and taken to court awaiting instructions on how to proceed or not to proceed from the Director of Public Prosecutions. We are very sure that if it was an opposition politician who had done that, there would have been no issue of having to wait for the Director of Public Prosecutions to come back from abroad for him to be arrested. They would have instantly arrested him, and without any police being extended. And he would have been taken to court where he would have been denied bail and would be in prison pending instructions on the matter from the Director of Public Prosecutions.

If anyone had doubts on how discriminatory and unprofessional the police is being run, this case of Dr Musonda should help remove that doubt. It’s very clear that there is no right to equality before the law, or equal protection of the law, in this country. What matters is one’s political affiliation. If you an ally of those in power, you are treated more favourably and effort is made in every possible way to help you escape justice. If you are not an ally of those in power, you will always be subjected to instant justice by the law-enforcement agencies. If you commit a crime, you will there and then be arrested and accordingly prosecuted with all the odds weighed against you.

We are not in any way saying that the state can guarantee that life will treat everyone equally. It actually has no responsibility to do so. However, under no circumstances should those in control of the state impose additional inequalities; they should be required to deal evenly and equally with all citizens regardless of their political affiliations. No one is above the law.

No one in the police can today claim that they did not fully know what Dr Musoda had done. They are actually not claiming that because they know very well what Dr Musonda had done. This is why the Minister of Home Affairs is saying that Dr Musonda was not arrested because the police were still investigating the shooting incidence. What Lungu is saying is effectively that the investigations were completed a long time ago but the Director of Public Prosecutions was out of the country for the judicial process to commence against Dr Musonda. This shows us how those who administer our criminal justice system hold the power with the potential for abuse and tyranny. In the name of the state, they can arrest on trumped-up and dubious charges citizens those in power do not like. And in the name of the state and using all sorts of highly questionable arguments and sometimes outright corruption, they can exempt the friends of those in power from prosecution. No serious nation, no honest people can tolerate such abuses.

The state must have the power to maintain law and order and punish criminal acts, but the rules and procedures by which the state enforces its laws must be public and explicit, not secret, arbitrary or subject to political manipulation by those in power.

There is no credit or praise that Rupiah deserves for dropping Dr Musonda from his government and for allowing him to be prosecuted. The truth is he was not interested in Dr Musonda being prosecuted. Rupiah publicly stated that he felt sorry for Dr Musonda while not attempting in any small way to show sympathy for the victim. When did the change of heart occur on Rupiah’s part? Rupiah still feels sorry for Dr Musonda and will do everything possible to ensure that he gets away with it. We will not be surprised to find that Dr Musonda’s matter moves very quickly in our courts and is found with no case to answer or is totally acquitted of the crime. It will also not surprise us if tomorrow we wake up to find that Mchenga has been instructed to extend a nolle prosequi in favour of Dr Musonda. It is highly likely that this case will go nowhere. They will do something to rescue Dr Musonda and ensure that Musaka and the people do not receive justice. For now, they have to let the judicial process appear to be taking its course in the matter when in actual fact it is not taking its course but is being directed by the forces in power.

The Post

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