Friday, 19 October 2007


By Gershom Ndhlovu

“During my years of practice, many of my clients were mostly those fighting for their fundamental human rights, a fact that was very dangerous during this time of Zambia’s history. People were being detained for expressing themselves. And for or not associating with certain individuals, friends and relatives,” President Mwanawasa is quoted as having said when he received his honorary Doctorate of Laws degree at Harding University recently.
He is also quoted as having said that people were detained on flimsy grounds and that he could not withstand the injustice that prevailed then.

For a man projecting such profound and noble principles, it is strange that he should now threaten to do exactly the same things against those opposing his dubious National Constitution Council (NCC) in the constitution amendment process. Stranger still, one of his trusted lieutenants, MMD national chairman Michael Mabenga, using language akin to that of the Second Republic, is now labelling those who, and rightly so, think that the NCC Act is a bad piece of legislation, as aliens.

Mwanawasa as a lawyer who even defended treason suspects in the past, but as someone now in a privileged position of Republican President, should be able to see and detect the signs that bring about dissension in the nation such as the enactment of bad laws which bring about widespread dissatisfaction among citizens.

He should not be cheated by those supporting the NCC now as being in genuine support of it, but rather just after the money for sitting on it and in some cases, for publicly supporting it.

Most of the people in the forefront of supporting the NCC are exactly the same lot that supported former President Chiluba's myopic and unconstitutional third term attempt. All they have done is change the names of their NGOs and sing aloud in support of Mwanawasa. A few years from now, the same people will, chameleon-like, change their colours to demonise the good old Dr Levy Mwanawasa for "misleading" them in the amendment of the "unsuitable" constitution when he will be living in isolation and supporting an opposition party if the MMD will still be in power.

But maybe these are the consequences of poverty which makes the ingenious survive by the use of their sweet tongues to mislead gullible leaders.

One does not need the memory of an elephant to remember that these same people frustrated the well-meaning citizens who fought to block Chiluba's manoeuvres and today are frustrating those that want the constitution to be amended in an inclusive and transparent manner. Their statements engender such a strong sense of deja vu as to transport one back in time to six-seven years back. And yet no one has seen through these people who are in essence, gold diggers.

Principled Zambians ganged up against President Kaunda and forced him to amend the law to allow multi-party democracy and the same Zambians resisted President Chiluba's attempt to go for a third term of office. I am sure that the same Zambians will triumph against the forces that are trying to pull wool over their eyes in the constitution making process. Tragedy though, is that President Mwanawasa, Justice Minister George Kunda & Co. may push through the document, but it will obviously be re-written just a few short years from now.

I admire Father Frank Bwalya for his principled stand to quit the chairmanship of Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Zambian Chapter over the same issue which is seemingly tearing apart similar organizations over who should sit on the NCC and who shouldn't when they should know better about how dubious and shambolic the whole process is. But again, it is the question of allowances to be earned from it.

For lawyers and their spoiled votes at one of their LAZ meetings to vote for NCC participation, what do you expect when ZIALE had to cancel a practising qualifying exam because of "leaky"?

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