Young African Leaders Initiative president Andrew Ntewewe says citizens must give government a benefit of doubt on the barring of Kenyan Law professor Patrick Lumumba from entering the country.

In an interview, Ntewewe said government was privy to certain information which could have informed its decision.

“As Young African Leaders Initiative, we want to put it on record that from the citizens point of view, you want to think that it’s regrettable that Prof Lumumba was denied entry. It’s regrettable because you want to see even people with divergent views come in the country and express themselves. We would have wanted to hear from him the merits and demerits of what he has been talking about in terms of Chinese investment on the African Continent and Zambia in particular. But at the same time, it’s very important to indicate that as much as that is the case, you want to give government the benefit of doubt in terms of why they could have denied him entry. And why we want to give government a benefit of doubt is that they have a right to determine who comes in and who does not come in the country. And there could several reasons that would actually cause a country or State not to allow someone entry into the country,” Ntewewe said.

“So it’s our belief really that we can give government a benefit of doubt that they know much more than we do. I know that ultimately there could be a lot of people who would say ‘but why is government stopping people from coming’ but in reality, there are a lot of citizens of the world out there who have been denied entry into the country where we may not even have the privilege to actually know to say this is the decision that has been made. But because Prof Lumumba is known that’s why the information has just out very quickly to say he has been denied entry. But also there are Zambians citizens who have been denied entry in other countries. And those countries do not have an obligation to indicate the reasons as to why they denied someone entry. So for us from the YALI point of view, we want to give the benefit of doubt to government because probably they know much more than what we may know.”

Ntewewe, however, said it would have been better if government had communicated its reservations with Eden University, which invited Lumumba.

“Secondly we would like to call for the bridging of the information gap because we think that the Zambian government was aware that Prof Lumumba had been invited by Eden University. So given the fact that they were aware, probably the communication between government as well as Eden University could have been on top of the game so that we don’t have a situation where this University spends a lot of money and they get money from participants and then government makes that decision. So maybe that communication can be improved but ultimately the truth of the matter is that government has the right and truthfully speaking, we may not have and we are not privy to all the information. And the way the State operates is that sometimes they may not give you that information as to why they have actually done it. But ultimately they have to protect the livelihood of the people of Zambia. Imagine for arguments sake if government allows someone to come into the country and then something goes completely wrong, who is going to be held accountable? it’s the State who will be held accountable. So at this particular time I think we can give government the benefit of doubt,” said Ntewewe.