Former Secretary to Cabinet Dr Sketchley Sacika says Zambia’s democracy has become a complete fuss.
And Dr Sacika says President Edgar Lungu has made himself a candidate for prosecution once he leaves office for allowing the Zambia Police Service to stop opposition political parties from holding meetings.
On November 8, President Lungu said he had no problems with police stopping opposition meetings because this was not a campaign period.
“For me, if the police think that it’s not in order to allow these gatherings to become the norm, I think it’s within their right, there is nothing to stop you from holding public meetings, if you feel that is your right. But speaking for myself, I would rather focus on serious issues by going out there to do some work as opposed to galvanizing political support from 2016 to 2021, what time are you going to work? First, let me understand one thing: don’t we have a season when we can start campaigning and gathering and holding public meetings and rallies? Really, in Zambia, are you saying we should be campaigning from 2016 to 2021? You can mobilize, yes, somehow as a political party. But you cannot have a frenzy that goes with campaigns during the last few months of election, then we have a season, maybe, we can be giving these things,” said President Lungu.
“I think that let’s focus on things, which matter, and things which matter now is the economy, the well being of this country. Yes, once in a while, you can go and hold a public gathering. But what I am saying in Zambia is that, we really like fanfare, we can’t be having fun, fun all the time! There are times when we should just say go and work.”
But in an interview, Dr Sacika observed that Zambia’s democracy had become a fuss.
“It is a cardinal principal of our Constitution that nobody is above the law, be it the President, police officers and so on. Everybody must conduct themselves in accordance with what the law says. Most importantly, the law does provide recompense to those who become victims of the misapplication of the law. As things are, our democracy has become a complete fuss where opposition political parties are not allowed to operate freely because the whole system of government has become subservient to the will of the people wielding political power. Can you imagine party cadres taking over the running of bus stations and markets illegally and nobody does anything about it? This is the breakdown of the rule of law! The most unfortunate thing is that power corrupts and the only available remedy is for citizens to defend their constitutional rights using whatever means that proves available, this is what, in respect of public meetings, this is what opposition political parties must be doing,” Dr Sacika said.
“The Constitution also provides that a member of the public, who is unfairly treated by the police, can lay a complaint to the Police Public Complaints Commission to have the offending officer investigated and punished. But although these arrangements exist, our politicians, especially those in opposition political parties, are not making use of these and other remedies available to them to deal with the present political situation. In my view, instead of just complaining about the police unfairness, the police commissioners who breach the Constitution and the Public Order Act should be prosecuted in the courts of law. They should also be brought before the Police Public Complaints Commission so that they can be sanctioned. Complaining about police unfairness will not yield any results at all. They have to take practical steps as I have indicated.”
And Dr Sacika said President Lungu had made himself a candidate for prosecution.
“President Lungu’s admission at his press conference that he is responsible for instructing the police not to allow the opposition political parties to hold public meetings is very unfortunate and it makes him a candidate for prosecution on charges of abuse of office when he is no longer President. The President cannot operate outside what the law says. When the Constitution says that the Executive powers of the State are vested in the President; what it means is that the President shall run the affairs of the country in accordance with what the Constitution and the law says. The President cannot exercise powers, which are not supported by the law, that is abuse of office and it’s a criminal offence! Under section 99 of the penal code, it is an offence for a police officer to do or to direct to be done any arbitrary act that is prejudicial to the rights of any other person,” said Dr Sacika.