Criminal asylum debacle

Fri, 15 Feb 2013 13:28:02 +0000

The fabrication about Zambian opposition leaders seeking criminal asylum in South Africa is most unfortunate.

This incident is telling about the political atmosphere in the country, a situation which the Catholic Bishops warned about in their pastoral letter.

Whoever briefed the President, deliberately misled him into believing that the opposition leaders were seeking criminal asylum  in South Africa to escape their ongoing criminal charges before courts of law.

This was of course totally untrue.

If indeed the President could be misinformed about such a relatively minor matter what other more important issues is he misled about? How many people have suffered as a result of such misinformation?

Who ever misinformed the President in this case must be carpeted and disciplined because it does not bode well for the President to make serious public assertions that are false. This takes away the credibility and trust that the people of Zambia should have in their President.

Such misinformation has serious local and international ramifications. The President referred to South African President Zuma, who he said, would not offer asylum to Mr. Banda a matter which that Government had never considered..

President Zuma must be forgiven for wondering about the capacity and quality of  our intelligence gathering system, which will fail to report accurately on the whereabouts of opposition political leaders.

This is a great shame.

This all the more so that while President Sata was speaking at State House MMD President Nevers Mumba and UPND President Hakainde Hichilema were very much within the country having returned the previous day.

By yesterday morning HH was attending the funeral of former MP Sibetta, before proceeding to participate in election campaigns while Nevers held a press conference to explain their trip top South Africa.

It is disturbing, how much time we as a country are wasting on trivialities. Critics are upset that opposition leaders addressed the media in South Africa.

Nobody has spoken about the content and substance of the opposition trip. The entire opposition trip has been trivialized to dwell on the venue- South Africa, rather than the issues that were discussed or raised in the entire exercise.

It would appear that Government is not interested in studying the content of the 40 page dossier that the opposition has already presented to the Commonwealth. This is a dossier that has documented a number of abuses that have presented with evidence.

The Commonwealth Secretariat Office in that country has a document compiled by  the e Coalition for the Defence of Democratic Rights (CDDR).

The 40 page report, according to the authors, is prepared on behalf of victims of human and civil rights abuses. This was a result, they said of the “serious and persistent” violations of the principles of the Commonwealth’s Harare Declaration by the Patriotic Front Government.

The issues raised in the report will not go away by emotive and emotional language. They must be addressed in a sober manner.

The document details information on the unlawful nature of the detentions suffered by opposition political leaders who were arrested and incarcerated three times within a period of two months.

They have further charged that  abuses have not only been committed against political leaders but also against civil society and business competitors  of their allies.

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