Jan 13, 2012

What is fair?

There’s a not-so silent minority of Zambians baying for the blood of former ruling party members. I typically wouldn’t pay much attention to this but when I see young people caught up in it, I get a weird sensation at the back of my neck and start to squirm. This worries me for a variety of reasons not the least of which is that I do not advocate the use of political power to annihilate and silence political opponents.

Yes, the former MMD government has a lot to answer for with regard to the economic plunder perpetrated by its operatives but this is has to be done using the rule of law. We cannot continue to have people picked up and thrown into jail without charge on the word of one or two people. The police need to investigate, gather evidence, forward it to the prosecutor’s office and the matters should play out in court.

It scares me to see people cheering detentions when no formal charges have been made. If we continue down this path, what’s to stop the same police officers following orders to detain other citizens who may be vocal in the oppositions of today’s rulers and their policies? Really, it doesn’t take much to take that next step.

As much as some would like to portray our former president Kenneth Kaunda as an aging lion who did nothing but good things for Zambians, let’s not forget how his operatives acted on the stroke of his pen and the utterances of his mouth to detain those who chafed against his autocratic one-party state and the failed socialist experiment. The same also happened in the regime of the late Frederick Chiluba – first it was political opponents, then journalists and others. Is that the Zambia we want 50 years after independence? No, thanks!

Let us not get sucked into this backwards mentality that every time we have new rulers, we need to purge the old by manipulating the system. We need to strengthen our institutions to reduce and eliminate the shenanigans that continue to hold us back. If we indeed have no faith in our judicial system, the answer isn’t to bypass it altogether but to give it back the authority and legitimacy it needs to operate independently of the executive and legislative branches.

We need a Zambia that offers everyone a day in court for whatever charges he or she may be facing. This starts from the person accused of stealing a pair shoes to the person accused of stealing ZMK 2.1 billion. 


Thanks for not getting caught up in the madness of retribution. I think our greatest weakness in Zambia is the desire to please the big man. To this aim we'll arrest, torture or manipulate the law with an amazing disregard for the long term effects of our actions.

I find it quite unsettling that the same police officers who would've tear gased a PF rally in early September at the behest of MMD leadership are now using similar tactics against their former bosses and walking the fine line between following the rules and not.

You're exactly right about the desire to please the big man. These folks will claim they're just following orders and need to keep their jobs. Sad really because the root cause lies deeper than that - there's too much power in the hands of the executive that they get to use our police force and military like their own security officers. The same goes with the continued abuse of the judiciary. We need to think and act differently!

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