NAREP president Elias Chipimo says President Edgar Lungu made the worst mistake of his presidency when he threatened Constitutional Court judges.
And Chipimo, a lawyer, says heads of investigative wings must explain why they are not taking action against culprits exposed in the Auditor General’s report.
Speaking when he featured on UNZA Radio’s Lusaka Star programme, Chipimo said President Lungu had made various mistakes while in State House, but threatening Constitutional Court judges was his worst.
“People may have issues and they may have legitimate concern about how certain things have been done in respect of the judiciary but the response is not for the head of state in a matter which involves his personal issue, in a matter which he has a personal interest, to make a statement which is tantamount to threats about how the judges are going to conduct themselves. This is unacceptable. I pray and I advise never must those statements be uttered again, not even anything close to that must be uttered again,” Chipimo said.
“The head of state should never ever make statements like that. If its not clear by now, it will be clear in the coming months, it could be the biggest and I know that a lot of mistakes have been made but this could be the biggest of the mistakes. We have separation of powers. The judiciary is the last reference point. You can’t fool all the people all the time. As a lawyer, I pledged an oath to defend the constitution and I will do that. And the stand that I have taken, the stand that our party has taken as NAREP is that we will defend the integrity of the judiciary.”
And Chipimo encouraged opposition parliamentarians to summon heads of investigative wings to ask them why they were not taking disciplinary action against individuals and institutions that have misapplied and misappropriated funds as revealed by the Auditor General.
“First of all it is sad that even though the amount is incredibly high than it has been in the past, no action has ever been taken when these revelations are made. We shouldn’t be jumping up and down because the amount is K126 versus K128, we should be jumping up even if its one million kwacha more than it should be on misapplication. But nothing is ever done,” Chipimo observed.
“The whole systems are changed in response to the clear misapplication which is taking place. Now in some instances, we have to look a little bit beyond. In some cases, it would be clear that this money was allocated and it benefited an individual. And we call upon the parliamentarians that, ‘that is your job, insist that there is an investigation. Summon the Inspector General of Police, summon the Anti corruption Commission, ask them why it it that they hare not taking action on these issues which demonstrate a clear case of impropriety’,” said Chipimo.
Chipimo observed that some controlling officers were diverting money meant for essential services towards projects in which they had personal interests.
“Instead of purchasing equipment for medicine you may find that the particular controlling officer or ministry happened to purchased air tickets to go somewhere or they purchased vehicles. Thats a misapplication. Now it may not necessarily be corruption, but it should be a warning flag to say lets look into this, why was this done instead of that, there must be some disciplinary action taken? Thats a disciplinary issue and disciplinary action must be taken,” said Chipimo.
“So we may need to summon the relevant institutions of government and ask them why hasn’t disciplinary action not been taken against this particular individual. So this is something that the opposition parliamentarians can do, the independent parliamentarians can do, my FDD friend in parliament should be able to do. And so thats the action that is required in order to get any sanity to these auditor generals reports.”