Lungu won’t dialogue with people who have brains the size of a rat – Amos

State House says President Edgar Lungu will not be bullied into dialoguing with people whose brain is the size of a rat.

And the Head of State has instructed Minister of Justice Given Lubinda to engage and invite representatives from the International Criminal Court (ICC) and Amnesty International to address the Opposition Alliance’s claims that four government officials, including himself, were implicated in perpetrating the electoral violence that rocked Sesheke constituency earlier this month.

Meanwhile, President Lungu’s Special Assistant for Press and Public Relations Amos Chanda has dismissed as patently false all allegations levelled against the Head of State by the Opposition Alliance.

Chanda equally announced that he has instructed his lawyers to commence civil and criminal proceedings against Alliance for Democracy and Development (ADD) president Charles Milupi for defamation of character, among other charges.

Reacting to the Opposition Alliance’s resolve to report President Lungu, some high ranking PF officials and four PF cadres to the ICC for various crimes against humanity, Chanda dismissed all the allegations against the Head of State.

At a press briefing in Lusaka, Wednesday, Milupi, who is also chairperson of the Opposition Alliance said the Alliance’s investigations had revealed that the ruling party had assembled a group of youths whose sole purpose was to perpetrate violence.

He referred to these youths as a “PF militia”, stationed mainly at Lusaka’s Intercity Bus Terminus and Kanyama Township.

But below is a verbatim report of what Chanda told journalists at State House during his press briefing.

Amos: “So, I called this briefing to respond to the scurrilous allegations made by the Opposition Alliance, dangerously desperate Opposition Alliance, I must say. They made allegations against His Excellency, the President; against the Secretary General of the ruling party; against the Minister of Home of Affairs; against myself and against Mr Kaizer Zulu, the Political Advisor. The basis of their allegations were simply that the militia unit exits, commanded and funded by the President and ourselves. The first response is that we strongly reject those allegations as totally false, containing no bearing of truth whatsoever.

The reason we say they are desperately dangerous is that it appears that there is no stop, there is no limit to how far the opposition leader Mr Hakainde Hichilema will go in his pursuit of the Presidency that he would damage and destroy the country in order to rule it. To consciously manufacture lies and give them to his shadow Mr Milupi and broadcast them in the manner they did, knowing too well is false and extremely shameful. But we know why they are doing that; in the past, it has become very fashionable for the opposition to lie in the international media space.

And because there is a decent government on running affairs of the State in the manner we think it must be run; we have normally ignored such scurrilous allegations. But if they were not so serious, these allegations would actually be laughable, but the allegations are so serious that they require a formal response, and they require a formal response in a manner that a decent government operates.

1) The opposition cannot be entertained at the ICC. It is quite clear that they have not familiarised themselves with a wrong statute that governs the ICC. The jurisdiction of that court correctly is criminal, yes. But only State parties can be heard at the ICC. So, those dangerously desperate men who paraded themselves at the Intercontinental Hotel, none of them can be entertained at the ICC! Having said that, their behaviour is like that of a foolish heads-boy who shouts “woof, woof!” “Woof, woof, one time, they go, people come, they don’t find the wolf, they don’t find the lion. Second time…the third time when this foolish heads-boy shouts “woof, woof” and the lion had come and no one from the village responded…

We are asking the ICC ourselves to come; we are asking the international human rights bodies such as Amnesty International; the Human Rights Commission (HRC) because the President told me that through the HRC, this information can officially go to Amnesty…that they can come to examine the allegations made.

But because these foolish opposition leaders do not have the jurisdiction to be heard before the ICC, we are going to do it for them by asking the ICC to come and examine these allegations. To this effect, Minister Lubinda is under instruction from the President to formally communicate to the ICC. The reason we are putting this upfront and through the international media is to clearly demonstrate that when dangerously desperate opposition leaders begin even to connive with rogue elements within the police, the international human rights regime must be able to stand up.

It is not, and I can tell you, in their limited understanding of the jurisdiction of the ICC; they think that the ICC was created to indict members of the government? They must read beyond and see that it has indicted opposition leaders elsewhere. So, if the idea is to cry “woof, woof!” Be careful what you wish for…

But we are coming clean on this one: there is no militia under the command of the President; there is no funding of any vigilante group from State House and from government. To the contrary, there is an official statement from the (deputy) spokesperson, Hon. Cornelius Mweetwa, categorically stating that the four police officers that have been disciplined are not the ones that are in charge of the policing operations in Sesheke.

Mr Mweetwa and Mr Hakainde seems to know exactly how the police were commanded in Sesheke! One, they were able to see how bullets were fired at him in the dense, thick forest; they were able to pick the cartridges and exactly tell that ‘this bullet came from this gun.’ Can these people now tell the police how they have gone to a ballistic examination and arrived at a very firm conclusion that they are arriving at?

After the opposition leader cries “wolf!” that he was shot at, and he was very clear that ‘by the police,’ then a quick enquiry is undertaken by Hon Kampyongo and his team, and they arrived at the decision that they have retired the police command in charge of the operations in Sesheke, Mr Hakainde wants those police officers reinstated; he seems to know exactly which police officer was shooting at him and who was not shooting at him! Can he provide evidence now, how he has this organic knowledge about how the police operation was done in Sesheke?

Can we have a correlation between the police van that was driving and the sporadic gun fire of automatic weapons? There’s nothing! When you fire an automatic rifle from a police van that you saw, you will see the smoke there. There’s no gun fire coming out of the police van, but you could hear the sound of gun fire. Did Mr Hakainde stage this incident again? And he doesn’t seem to learn from events of the past. But to clearly bring all these things to clear examination, can the HRC now begin an investigation; can they invite Amnesty International? But we want that invitation to be backed up by the local human rights body; there’s nothing to hide whatsoever.

As for Charles Milupi, in personal capacity, and also as a State officer, he will be hearing from my lawyers pretty soon. I also know that both civil and criminal proceedings may be brought against him. We do not know under any legal terms the Opposition Alliance; it’s a formless and headless grouping of people just desperate to get power! So, there can be no legal suit brought against such as a formless; it has no legal personality! So, Mr Milupi, who we saw in the video, will be hearing from my lawyers pretty soon. They will bring both civil and criminal proceedings against him. So, in his personal capacity, civil and criminal proceedings will be instituted against him. The Zambian people must learn that, every action must have consequences; every word you say, must mean something; you can’t just go on a platform and accuse other people of doing something.

I was not in the country during the Sesheke by-election; in all my life, I have never been to Sesheke. How can I command a militia in a district that I don’t even know how it looks? I have never been! I was not on the campaign…But even those that were performing duties like Mr (Kaizer) Zulu, Mr Kampyongo…Mr Kampyongo commands the police force as a political head of (Ministry) of Home Affairs; there are police commanders who answer to him; he does not command a militia!

I know Mr Hakainde is a clever man! He was cheering on this senseless man making those allegations without recourse to the consequences of his words. So, those are the steps that have been taken. But just in summary; it is to state that there is no element of truth whatsoever.

This is the message I wanted to give you.

I will take questions.”

Stuart: Thank you very much, Mr Chanda. Happy New Year to you! First and fore mostly, can you confirm that the allegations of live ammunition that were purportedly used by the Zambia Police Service in Sesheke District are patently false? Secondly, when are we to expect the team from the ICC and Amnesty International into the country?

Amos: We have invited them; we can’t bully them. We are not like those opposition bullies. If we invite them and they think there’s merit to come, they will come. We can’t dictate their timetable. Unlike Brian Mwiinga and Mr Hakainde, I am not a ballistic expert to know that this bullet came from this. So, they know, and the ICC investigators will take an interest to see whether those (bullet) cartridges were actually from the police. What I saw is a police van speeding! And I did not see a gun fired from that…

Stuart: So, there was no live ammunition that was used?

Amos: I did not see any gun fire from the van that was purported to be shooting at him (HH). You know, lies and gimmicks have no sustainability. You see, to sustain one lie, you must tell another! You don’t know where it ends…Did you, Stuart, see any live ammunition coming from that police van? We all know that when you fire a gun, there is smoke. If there were silent guns, then the sound would not have been heard. All I can confirm is that, I did not see live ammunition coming from that gun, but I could hear gun shots, which I suspect could only have come from these people who with specific knowledge of who shot…what they were shooting at and the actual cartridges after shooting. We’ve seen the criminality of the UPND before.

Stuart: Are you suggesting, Mr Chanda, that the Zambia Police Service has been infiltrated by the opposition UPND?

Amos: The opposition is speaking for the police. I am not even supposed to suggest; it’s in the public domain. There’ll be reinstated because they are innocent and they were maintaining law and order. Just two days after shooting at him, they were maintaining law and order. For eight hours, he was ducking bullets. You know, Sesheke is 5Km from Katima Mulilo (border post). So, if he was running westwards, he would have been in Katima Mulilo and probably into the Atlantic Ocean for eight hours! If he was coming backwards, he would have bypassed Livingstone and ended up in Nyimba. But if they pursued him inside Namibia, he would probably end up in the ocean! All these were statements from the UPND.

But because they have gotten used to lying and without a response, they actually think that the nation is as dumb as they are! The government is much more sophisticated than those cheap tactics. So, I am not suggesting anything; I am just commenting on official statements issued by the opposition leader, confirmed by his spokesperson; confirmed by the national chairperson Hon. Mutale Nalumango, there was no violence whatsoever. Then, all of a sudden, there is an escalation of violence and the UPND know exactly which police officer caused violence and which one did not?

Hanock (ZNBC): Good afternoon, Mr Chanda. When is the Minister of Justice expected to channel that formal invitation to the ICC?

Amos: Presidential instructions are very clear; when you are instructed, it’s immediate.

Stuart: Focusing our attention on Mr Milupi, I am just curious on what specific grounds are you able to disclose what those proceedings would be because Mr Milupi says quite categorically, that he has pictorial evidence of violence…

Amos: He has pictorial evidence of me in Sesheke when I have never been to Sesheke in all my life?

Stuart: Not necessarily you, but of the violence.

Amos: The civil and criminal proceedings relate to the blatant blue lies he has told about me!

Stuart: So, it’s defamation of character?

Amos: Look, there will be civil and criminal proceedings. That’s why I said that he’ll be hearing from my lawyers pretty soon. It’s not just defamation of character; my lawyers have examined the footage and they have seen criminal and civil liability in his reckless statements.

Stuart: And then, given the fact that we seem to be in a very toxic political climate where there isn’t much dialogue going on, where does this leave the national dialogue?

Amos: You can’t engage in dialogue with rogue elements! A government has been elected with a clear mandate within the provisions of the Constitution; the President will carry on with the business of governing, and he cannot be bullied to go onto a table with people whose brain is the size of a rat! He cannot be bullied into a conversation with people like that. On the same table with a criminal? What sort of dialogue can take place?

Stuart: So, the prospects of the national dialogue is looking bleak?

Amos: Look, Hon Lubinda has issued a statement in Parliament today (Friday). We’ve waited all along to bring the Constitutional Bill, Public Order Act, to the dialogue table. You are not going to govern from outside. The Bills will be presented to Parliament, the President will continue to govern, he has Executive powers. Where criminal elements begin to disrupt law and order, the law will take its course. The President can govern without those rogue elements.

Stuart: And if we turn our attention to the upcoming Bahati by-election, are you able, as the Presidency, to confirm the safety and security of voters in that constituency?

Amos: The President has ordered the police to tolerate no form of violence whatsoever from any quarters. Whether the rogue elements in the police are UPND, the law will take its course so there will be no entertainment of any form of violence whatsoever.

That’s it. Thank you very much.

         

Stuart Lisulo

About Stuart Lisulo

Stuart Lisulo is an experienced Zambian journalist with a focus on business news.
Email: stuart [at] diggers [dot] news

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