Alliance for Community Action Laura Miti and her fellow fire tender protestors yesterday appeared before the Lusaka Magistrates’ Court clad in white t-shirts bearing hand-written messages demanding accountability from government.
And the case in which they are charged with disobeying lawful orders failed to take off due to the absence satirical singer Chama Fumba alias Pilato who is currently in exile following threats on his life after the release of his song Koswe Mumpoto.
When the matter came up before magistrate Mwaka Mikalile, a state prosecutor asked the court to issue a bench warrant against Pilato saying it was unacceptable that the singer had failed to appear before court three times in a row.
Defense counsel Keith Mweemba was not present in court to offer a counter argument as he had stepped out before the case was called forcing magistrate Mikalile to issue the bench warrant.
The state then applied that the court should review the police bonds that were given to all the accused persons because they had no sureties making it easier for them to skip court sessions.
At this point, Mweemba returned to the courtroom and fumed after learning that a bench warrant had been issued against one of his clients in his absence.
He told magistrate Mikalile that he had conferred with the state prosecutors earlier, telling them that he intended to raise a preliminary issue with regards Pilato.
Mweemba said he had a letter from Amnesty International explaining why Pilato had not been going to court and requested that the matter be dealt with in the chambers.
Magistrate Mikalile, the state and Mweemba then proceeded to her chambers after which the matter was adjourned to Friday September 9, 2017.
Miti appeared alongside PEP president Sean Tembo, Zambia Council for Social Development executive director Lewis Mwape, Bornwell Mwewa and Mika Mwambazi.
Speaking to journalists shortly after the court appearance, Mwape said they would continue demanding for accountability for public funds even if it meant more arrests.
“This is the time when those that think Zambians have short term memories should remember that we are not going to forget about this. We shall continue to demand for accountability and if it means that those that demand for accountability shall be arrested, we as Zambians are ready to be arrested. We are bold enough to be arrested for any abuse of resources,” said Mwape.
And Miti said they were still waiting for answers from government on numerous questions of accountability which they had raised.
“We have not received any answers from government. The last we heard was that ACC had began an investigation and we do not how far that investigation has gone. 42 for 42 represents major break down of management of resources in this country. It is not only a single matter. As Zambians, especially young people who are affected by the money that keeps sipping out of the treasury, need to begin to ask questions. Need to begin to feel the anger that is represented by us here because we want answers,” said Miti.
Meanwhile, Tembo said the issue of the $42 million fire tender scandal should not die a natural death.
“For us we believe that this issue of the $42 million fire tender scandal is an issue that should not die a natural death. To a large extent it is good that we have come here to court so that we can explain to the Zambian people why it was necessary for us to protest at Parliament on that particular day. We believe this is an opportunity for the Zambian people to realize we all have a duty to hold the government accountable. It is the duty for each one of us to stand up whenever our resources are being abused by the government of the day. And this fire tender tender scandle is the epitome of such abuse of our natural resources and our money especially,” said Tembo.
Miti and others were arrested on September 29 after they allegedly defied police directives not to go ahead with the protests over the purchase of the fire trucks during the presentation of the national budget.