IF only President Edgar Lungu acted with such lightning speed when firing corrupt ministers in his government, as he has acted on the obscene viral video involving the General Education Minister, Zambia would be a far better place to live in. The decision to fire Honourable David Mabumba over an obscene video looks reasonable from a distance, but when you look at the list of scandals involving other ministers that have been ignored by the appointing authority in the past, it raises a lot of pertinent questions.
Firstly, we must say that what has happened to the Honourable minister makes very sad reading. What is worse is that Honourable Mabumba stood out as one of the few reasonable and steadfast ministers in the PF government since the time of Michael Sata. If he made enemies during his time in office, it must be those whom he stopped from engaging in illegalities. So when great men fall, only the insensitive few take pleasure. We sympathise with the minister and we hope and pray that he will find the relevant strength to weather the storm and soldier on. In our view, he served government and the people dedicatedly and his scandalous departure from public service is unfortunate.
Now, this is not to say those who have remained are clean. There is nothing that Honourable Mabumba did that those who have remained in Cabinet don’t do. In fact, the reason he has been forced out is not because he was the only one doing this, but because they feel embarrassed that what they do in these public offices has been exposed. Issues of morality are a very sensitive topic, and there is not one person who can claim to be as clean or pure as an angel. Even the most holy go out of their way and find themselves falling short of the glory of God. It is human nature to make mistakes.
What has shocked us is that Honourable Mabumba has not been given a chance to face justice first. It has taken the President very few hours to make a decision of firing the minister and replacing him. It is almost as if the President didn’t like this minister for some reason and he was looking for an opportunity to get rid of him. We say this because other ministers who have been accused of committing more serious crimes against the people have received utmost protection from State House. Everyone else is innocent until proven guilty by the courts of law, but Honourable Mabumba has been sentenced without trial. Why?
The people are asking. Does it mean that only nudity is a crime in the PF government while corruption is not? Does it mean that only nudity is embarrassing to the President while theft of public funds is not? The government needs to come out clean on its justice agenda. It seems to us that the law is what the President says it is, not what is in the statutes, and this is very concerning. What is more damaging to the economy between corruption and obscenity?
From our point of view, that obscene video does very little or no damage at all to the economic prosperity of this country. Apart from injuring his own person and family, very few Zambians have remained affected by what can be described as the immoral conduct of the minister. But when you go to a hospital near you, there is no basic medicine. Even Panadol is out of stock because money meant for medical supplies has been diverted to private pockets. Companies that used to provide medicines to the government have stopped, because they are owned hundreds of millions.
The looting of public resources in these critical sectors is what is killing the economy, it is what has caused our country to be heavily indebted, not pornography. Sharing obscene materials is immoral, but stealing from the poor is tantamount to murder. Those who steal from the poor must be the focus for punitive measures, not those who engage in obscenity. There is nothing wrong in firing a minister who does what Honourable Mabumba did, but our issue is that the action smells of hypocrisy and lacks logic.
If you want to apply the law, it must be applied fairly. Even if producing obscene material is a criminal offence, Mabumba remains innocent until the courts of law prove him otherwise. He has the right to appear in court so that he can exculpate himself. It is wrong for the President to sentence him without trial. It is even worse that the President is protecting hard core criminals, while punishing those who engage in erotic entertainment.