Madam DPP, divorce the President, marry the law!

Deputy Inspector General of Police Malcom Mulenga made a very interesting statement on October 26, 2017. He said the police are not to blame for the numerous court cases that the Director of Public Prosecutions is discontinuing through nolle prosequis.

“Entering of Nolle Prosequi by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) should not be misconstrued as incompetence on the part of the police, as there are several reasons that may lead to entering of Nolle Prosequi in particular cases. The Director of Public Prosecutions is not obliged to give reasons for making such a decision, as the [DPP’s] office is protected by the law. We therefore, warn members of the public not to push the Police too far as we will not relent in bringing to book all those that come in conflict with the Law,” stated Mulenga.

When Deputy IG Mulenga made this remark, we wondered what could have prompted him to remind the public that the DPP’s office was discontinuing so many court cases. It seems the police command was warning the public that they would continue arresting citizens even if the DPP won’t have a case against them.

We feel there are many reasons why Mr Mulenga was speaking like this. On many occasions State House officials have reached out to the police command to give orders on how to grind down political opponents of those who are in power – at least there is audio evidence to attest to this fact.

This means if the Police command does not do as commanded by State House, heads roll. If citizens start walking around with placards, demonstrating against corruption or abuse of authority, without any arrests being made, the IG would become jobless. Therefore, we can understand Inspector General Kakoma Kanganja, his deputy and Provincial Police Commissioners accepting to be used by those who appointed them.

But there has to be an office that puts an end to the rot. There has to be a gatekeeper who gives political maneuvers a legal direction. Those powers are vested in the National Prosecution Authority, under the stewardship of the Director of Public Prosecutions. But in Zambia, the office of the DPP is not playing that role very well.

The DPP has a duty to ensure that the prosecution office is not used for political ends. The moment a case smells politics, the DPP should not even wait. She should immediately stand up to protect the integrity of the prosecution service. That’s her job.

You can tell from the statements made by the office of the Inspector General that the men in charge of the police command are in bed with politicians. But a good DPP must resist the sweetness of being in bed with the office of the President. We find it our responsibility to remind the incumbent DPP, Ms Lillian Shawa Siyunyi that while it could be true that she was called back from abroad to come and serve the interests of the sitting President, after taking the job, it is absolutely her choice to decide how to proceed.

Unlike the Inspector General of Police, Ms Siyunyi’s office is protected by the Constitution. If today she decided to divorce herself from the presidential puppet show, no State House official will touch her. Removing Ms Siyunyi from office would require a battalion of seriously armed paramilitary police officers to drag her to Chongwe, like they dragged Mutembo Nchito. And like Mr Nchito, Ms Siyunyi should be ready to be arrested, humiliated and stripped off her immunity before being thrown out. As long as she refused to be used by politicians, such an experience would give her joy.

But that is not what we have seen with Ms Siyunyi. We fear that if our DPP takes pride in being praised by the most powerful man in the land, she is not fit to be in that office. A good example of how Ms Siyunyi has failed to protect the integrity of the prosecution authority is the treason case. Those who doubt that the DPP’s office is being demeaned should look back at the facts in the Hakainde Hichilema treason case. Even us who have never been to law university can tell that the case was empty, a waste of time. But Ms Siyunyi was busy sending prosecutors to go and argue at the subordinate court.

One would have thought that being a good lawyer that she claims to be, Ms Siyunyi would have reviewed the evidence on the file so that she assesses the weight in the evidence provided. At that point, she could have advised the political authorities that the treason case would not last beyond a day of trial. She could have advised the President that the case would end up a humiliation to the State. But Ms Siyunyi allowed the treason accused to spend 127 days in remand prison, knowing too well that she had no case against them. Where is her integrity as a chief government prosecutor? What legal opinion did she give on that treason case?

It was very clear that the DPP’s office was used for very obvious political machinations. Her office was basically surrendered to politicians during that period. Both the arrest and release of Hichilema and five others were an embarrassment to Zambia. The arrest showed that our police officers are not professional while the release also showed that our prosecutors are not professional. They seem to be working to a political timetable.

But this is exactly what we warned Ms Siyunyi on April 18, a few days after Mr Hichilema was charged with treason. We warned the DPP that her reputation was at stake. We told Ms Siyunyi to consider the day that Mr Hichilema would take plea, as the day when her own trial would commence.

Here we are today. The police put the DPP on trial and now they have passed their judgment. They have come to the conclusion that the DPP is incompetent and everything they take to her office, no matter how nonsensical, ends up in court but discontinued through nolle prosequi. We would like to remind Ms Siyunyi that her office is not a political office. She should conduct herself in a manner that would allow her to work under any regime. Let her not take pride in bootlicking.

Yes, our culture teaches us to remain quiet when elders fart, but our traditions don’t encourage us to clap for the breathing elders. Stop bending to smelly orders Ms Siyunyi, turn the other way and pretend you didn’t hear.

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