Mongu commission’s recommendations are not mine alone-Rodger Chongwe
Rodger Chongwe has fought back to put the record straight in the wake of a Wynter Kabimba dressing down on Monday. The Patriotic Front secretary general, in a television interview with veteran broadcaster Frank Mutubila, did not mince his words when he referred to the chairman of the Mongu riots commission of inquiry as an interested party in the matter.
Dr Chongwe’s commission proposed in its report that the 1964 Barotseland Agreement should be restored to which the PF chief charged that the commission went beyond its terms of reference. Dr Chongwe yesterday said Mr Kabimba should not accuse him of being an interested party in the matter because he was not the only lawyer representing the victims of the Mongu riots.
He said he was merely the lead counsel, voluntarily representing 26 people who were charged with treason after the riots.
Dr Chongwe said Mr Kabimba was in fact one of the lawyers who had equally volunteered to represent the accused.
He punched further: “Mr Kabimba is very much alive to the fact that there was no money attached and therefore, there would be no emotional attachment.”
He added, proudly: “As a Senior or Queen’s Counsel in that matter, I did not receive any money and in fact the matter was never argued in court as the case was withdrawn.”
He even added that his commission was within its terms of reference to recommend the restoration of the Barotseland Agreement.
“There is no evidence that we went beyond the terms of reference which the head of State gave us and besides, we have not yet been told by the appointing authority and Cabinet that we went beyond our mandate,” Dr Chongwe said.
Mr Kabimba, in an interview on Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC) had goaded Dr Chongwe, saying he was emotionally involved in the matter as he was one of the lawyers who represented some of the victims of the Mongu riots.
The commission presented its findings to President Sata last Thursday, and the President said he would be reluctant to restore the Barotseland Agreement.
And on Monday Mr Kabimba added a rejoinder: “The issue of the Barotseland Agreement is nowhere in the terms of reference as given to the commission by President Sata.”
To which Dr Chongwe retorted yesterday in an interview: “We have done the work and it’s up to the authority to accept or reject the recommendations,” and that, “there’s no question that one must bear the blame but it’s really best that we wait for Government to state its position.”
He said the role of the commission was only to make recommendations and the decision to accept or reject the report lies with the appointing authority, who in this case is the President. He said the recommendations are not binding and can easily be dismissed if Cabinet and the President felt so.
Dr Chongwe also said the recommendations are not his alone and that it is wrong to attribute the recommendations of the commission to his persona, as there were nine other commissioners.
“Yes, I was and I am still the chairperson of the commission but the decisions and recommendations were not for Rodger Chongwe. All the nine commissioners collectively made the decisions,” he said.
He was speaking from Luangwa.