Tuesday, May 28, 2024

UPND Using loopholes in Law to try and exterminate their political opponents

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By Sean Tembo – PeP President

1. When Hakainde Hichilema won the presidential election last August, there was total euphoria among his supporters. However, for me, I decided to utilize the opportunity of the celebrations to warn him of the potential pitfalls of his impending presidency, much to the chagrin of his supporters. At that particular time, most Zambians did not want to hear about what could go wrong with an HH presidency, they wanted to only hear about what will go right.

And so they labelled me a prophet of doom, a bitter man, a jealous man. But I was undeterred in my counsel to then-President-elect Hichilema, because I saw it as my duty, responsibility and obligation. However, other people have a talent of couching their counsel in layers of diplomacy, but unfortunately, God did not bless me with any such talent, and so I just often say it as it is. The naked truth.

2. The first piece of advice that I extended to then-President-elect Hichilema was on how to turn around our ailing economy, reduce the cost of living and potentially create jobs. I told the President that it is better to be inward-looking rather than outward-looking. That his focus should be on three things; firstly creating a conducive environment for Zambian businesses to thrive by reducing barriers to trade such as high costs of borrowing, unreasonable regulatory burdens, etcetera.

Secondly, he needs to seal revenue leakages in tax as well as non-tax revenue so as to boost domestic revenue mobilization which he would then use to meet our debt service obligations. Thirdly that he needs to avoid an expansionary budget until such a time that the economy stabilizes. That you cannot go on a spending spree if you don’t have the money.

3. The second piece of unsolicited advice which I extended to then-President-elect Hakainde Hichilema was on the impending fight against corruption which he would obviously subsequently launch against the outgoing regime. I advised the President that since the outgoing PF regime also happens to be the main opposition political party now, there will be a thin line in the eyes of the observing public between a genuine corruption fight and retribution and vengeance aimed at weakening the main opposition political party so as to elevate himself from President to King. I further advised the then President-elect that in order for his impending corruption fight to have credibility, he needs to do two things; firstly ensure that he does not rush to arrest people without evidence and secondly that people who are arrested are prosecuted on a timely basis so that they can be acquitted or convicted.

4. With regard to my first piece of advice on the economy, of course, it is common knowledge now that the President did not only disregard it but proceeded to do the exact opposite. Instead of being inward-looking and focusing on creating a conducive local business environment as well as sealing revenue leakages, the President decided to be outward-looking and proceeded to solicit for an International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailout loan.

When I told the President that IMF conditionalities would make the lives of our people unbearable, he and his supporters including quasi economists like Chibamba Kanyama vehemently argued that the IMF of the 1990s is not the IMF of now. That the Fund had ceased to impose harsh conditionalities such as removal of subsidies and austerity measures. That I have nothing to worry about. Of course, what followed is the largest fuel increment and impending increment in electricity tariffs. Energy being a key production input, the subsequent trickle-down increase in the cost of living has been unbearable for most Zambians.

5. Additionally, instead of creating a conducive local business environment by reducing the cost of borrowing and increasing liquidity, Bally has done the exact opposite. He has increased the Monetary Policy Rate (MPR) thereby increasing the cost of borrowing and has also increased the amount of Government domestic borrowing (treasury bills and government bonds) by more than 40 per cent over the past 7 months, thereby crowding out the private sector as banks, pension funds and insurance companies prefer to lend to the government than to an SME.

He has also halted payments to local suppliers and contractors, under the guise that he is doing an audit, thereby wiping out liquidity in the economy and causing huge job losses. Instead of sealing revenue leakages in tax and non-tax revenue, he has decided to legitimize tax revenue leakages in the mining sector by extending a de facto tax holiday, such that despite copper prices being at an all-time high at the moment, we as a country have nothing much to show for it.

6. With regard to the second piece of advice which I extended to then-President-elect Hakainde Hichilema, on treading carefully with regard to the fight against corruption as well as any other alleged crimes committed by the previous regime, it is evident that the President and his Government have no regard for finer issues such as credibility. They have gone on a spree to arrest all-vocal members and supporters of the previous regime even when the charges that these individuals are slapped with do not make sense.

For instance, how can Mumbi Phiri and Shebby Chilekwa both be charged with murder when the murder in question involved a firearm and the victim is said to have only been shot once? Did they both put their fingers on the trigger and pull at once? The most that one of them can be charged with is perhaps accessory or conspiracy. But these lesser charges are bailable and it is clear that the ploy is to keep these individuals behind bars as much as possible even if the State will eventually amend the charge sheet. That is not justice. That is vengeance and retribution.

7. And then we have this new infestation of the charge of being in possession of property reasonably suspected to be proceeds of crime. When you look at section 71 of the Forfeiture of Proceeds of Crime Act No. 19 of 2010, you can clearly see that this law contravenes the Constitution. Specifically, when you look at sub-section (2) which says that it is not necessary to prove that a crime took place for you to be convicted of the charge of being in possession of property suspected to be proceeds of crime. There just has to be suspicion, that’s all. Additionally, the law does not define what constitutes legitimate suspicion. It just says suspicion. So all the State has to do is suspect, and then the burden is on you the accused to prove your innocence! Clearly, this section of the Act also contravenes the constitutional presumption of innocence until proven guilty.

8. But instead of the new dawn administration amending this section of the Act so as to make our laws fair and equitable, they are instead utilizing it to try and exterminate their political opponents. Suffice to mention that this law was actually enacted by the MMD regime in 2010. This law was in place when the PF were in power, and we all know that the PF was quite a vengeful regime as well, but they did not abuse this law to the extent that President Hichilema and his administration are abusing it today.

Take for instance the recent charge laid against PF Acting President Given Lubinda under the same section 71(1) of the Forfeiture of Proceeds of Crime Act No.19 of 2010. Given Lubinda is being charged for having reasonably small amounts of $100,000, $50,000 and a house in Kingsland. Suffice to mention that Lubinda has been in gainful employment as an MP for Kabwata for the past 20 years, during which time he obtained 4 gratuity payments from the National Assembly.

Lubinda has also been a Cabinet Minister for the past 10 years during which time he earned various amounts of per diems during his many travels out of the country. Additionally, Lubinda was an accomplished businessman even before he became an MP in 2001. Are we saying that it is unusual for such a person to have $100,000 in their bank account? Not under their bed, but in a bank account? How many new dawn ministers have houses in Kingsland City? If Lubinda had $20 million in his bank account, then even my eyebrows would be raised. But $100,000? Come on.

9. If the previous regime wanted to abuse section 71(1) of the Forfeiture of Proceeds of Crime Act, President Hakainde Hichilema would have been the first target when he was in opposition because nobody understands how he accumulated his wealth. Between the two main economic activities which President Hichilema undertook; which is privatization and cattle rearing, it is unlikely that cattle rearing can explain the source of his wealth. I mean, how many other people keep cattle and how many have so far become filthy rich out of it? My point here is that the previous regime had a stronger basis to apply section 71(1) of the Forfeiture of Proceeds of Crime Act on Mr Hichilema but they chose not to. Hopefully, because they knew that it was a bad law. Of course, the PF should also take the blame for not making any attempts to amend this law.

10. My submission is that if President Hakainde Hichilema’s corruption fight is going to earn credibility in the eyes of right-thinking members of the public, it needs to be premised on more than a loophole in the law. If the previous regime stole money, we want them to be brought to book. Isn’t it a wonder that almost everyone in the previous regime who has so far been charged, has been charged under the loophole of section 71(1)? Malanji, Bowman, Max and now Lubinda? They fail to prove any crime committed, but they want to take away people’s property on the basis that they are proceeds of crime?

Tell us what that crime is first then prove that crime in court and then it will be morally right to take away people’s property. If a cattle farmer was able to build a multi-million dollar mansion and no one took it away from him, then why do you want to take away a $260,000 house in Kingsland City which is owned by a 20-year Member of Parliament and a 10 year Cabinet Minister? President Hichilema must stop this vengeance and retribution immediately. I for one will support any genuine fight against corruption by the new dawn administration. But what I will not do is to allow HH and his Government to continuously exploit a weakness in the law to try and decimate and destroy the opposition so as to elevate himself from President to King.

28 COMMENTS

  1. There is some sense in what Sean is saying. I personally have a problem with how our Police operate and HH regime doesn’t seem to be in a hurry to correct many anomalies created in last regime. We still have to deal with the same individuals who were harassing us in the last regime. There are ‘quick win’ actions that New Dawn govt must have embarked on to set the new foundation for a new order. You need a crack squad of untainted professionals to set the stage for good.

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  2. When MMD came to power I so enthusiastic on eliminating Unip completely. By the time I realized that this was a mistake, it was too late Unip was no more. Mwanawasa ensured that the only party that posed a credible threat was the HP was buried alive. We are where we are because we follow blindly. Some people are so happy to see PF being threatened with extinction not knowing that they are supporting totalitarian governance. By the time you realize that, it will be too late.

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  3. ST………..

    Now you are sounding relevant after stopping you silly cader like unwarranted incessant attacks on HEHH…………

    Speak when you need to be heard as in this case……….

    On your economic advise to close tax loopholes , the PF managed to tax zambians to the bone, unless you mean pursuing PF tax dodges because every one else was taxed out including the mines , than that will be persecution in your eyes.

    On the pursuing proceeds of crime that is the law , if UPND use it , so be it…….

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  4. Zambians let’s wake up and keep eyes on the ball and stop being praise singers.Some people call Sean Tembo Mr Zeros but the man does try to give proper checks and balances.Our President should declare his assets and then his Corruption fight will be respected otherwise it will be just Hypocrisy

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  5. How things change, politics really is a dirt game. PF is now crying and able to see the wrongs other political parties are doing

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  6. I conquer withe these two statements,
    1. PF should also take the blame for not making any attempts to amend this law.
    2.it is not necessary to prove that a crime took place for you to be convicted of the charge of being in possession of property suspected to be proceeds of crime. There just has to be suspicion, that’s all. Additionally, the law does not define what constitutes legitimate suspicion. It just says suspicion. So all the State has to do is suspect, and then the burden is on you the accused to prove your innocence!
    We await on ACC to take these guys to court so that they can prove their innocence if not convict them.

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  7. #9 The burden is on the accuser to prove the case. The suspect didn’t announce that he was a suspect. The accuser started the whole thing and has to finish it. Nshima doesn’t invite you to cook it. You start it and must ensure all the ingredients are available, it’s not the Nshima that must look for them.

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  8. #Deja Vu
    The ACC has already presented its findings and accused someone of been in possession of proceeds of crime so the burden on the person been accused that the said property was genuinely acquired.
    Therefore, since Given has refused owning $539,000 but only $269,000 and a receipt deposit payment to the property been accused of in Kingsland City surely tells you something. He could have genuinely denied or accept all. So it’s now on him to prove them wrong in the courts of Law.
    Lets watch and see what happens.

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  9. Lubinda will be next president of zambia at the next election. First thing we will do is commission an inquiry into privatisation. Apusa hh

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  10. Your analysis of the economic trajectory is very shallow Sir. I would appreciate if you said, assuming all things are kept constant… On murder charges against Mumbi, you speak from a mathematical logical thinking that two people cant pull a trigger of one fire arm at same time. Am afraid law does not always follow that line.

  11. What Mr Sean Tembo has uptly outlined in this article are some of the reasons why sata labeled HH an under five politician. HH does not have the capacity nor the know how to perform and deliver economic development as he promised. Those where just words uttered by a new entrant politician. As usual the electorate believed and supported the rhetoric and there we are. Of course they where cultaported by the insensitive and thuggish PF cadres who could not be tamed by their leaders as well as the rampant corruption. This is a timel lesson for every political party in Zambia.

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  12. BMW is a missed call! I’ve never endeared myself to him because all along I’ve known him as a shifting shadow depending on which side the sun is. I couldn’t even waste my vote on UPND Alliance.

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  13. Sean, you have written that Lubinda was an MP for twenty (20) years, a cabinet minister for ten (10) years and a BUSINESSMAN before that. Equally, if we have to play square, HH was an employee of a reputable international company which paid him handsomely. He invested his money wisely in property and ranching giving him good returns unlike yourself, who we are told, messed up in Botswana. Privatisation is but just a political sing song amplified by PF and It’s surrogates like yourself out of jealous and tribalism otherwise how do you single out only one person out of the many that were involved. I suppose he is the one who privatised Cold Storage and Mulungushi Traveller.

  14. So far we have witnessed no convictions. Zero under the new yawn and the ACC is still receiving instructions for mr fixer. He wants to squeeze every penny out of the targeted outgone individuals and label it believed to be a proceed of crime without conviction. Up to now, no conviction. Isn’t he all about blanks. We is a no show.

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  15. Obviously this PEP guy is misleading himself as usual again, he thinks investigative wings don’t have evidence, he thinks because Lubinda was an MP, he can acquire things, no that is not how it works, you must understand what is meant by money laundering, he even says small amounts, it is not the quantum that matters, it is how that same quantum was obtained

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  16. SHANI TOMBWE WANTS ZAMBIANS TO TAXED FURTHER? PLEASE NO FURTHER TAXES. IF YOU SEE A THIN LINE BETWEEN FIGHTING CORRUPTION AND PERSECUTING PF, SHOULD A GENUINE FIGHT AGAINST CORRUPTION BE ABANDONED BASED ON YOUR MISCONCEPTION OF ITS RELEVANCE? WHY ARE YOU BELITTLING $100 000 INSINUATING THAT IT IS NOT WORTH FIGHTING FOR IF IT WAS CORRUPTLY OBTAINED? OKAY GIVE US DATA ON THE 42 FIRE FIGHTERS EACH OF WHICH COST $1 000 0000.

  17. Mbuzi Meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee, next to be arrested. Remember farm you forcibly acquired is likely suspected to be from proceeds of criminal activities –
    such pf cadres like you, will be arrested ask Lubinda, Malanji, Lusambo and his wife, to name a few.

  18. I never thought that in seven months after elections one of our ‘brief case nashala neka parties’ will be defending and advocating for the criminal and Gangster Pf. Only simple and weak minds will believe the utter nonsense in this article. This demented moron is worried about Zayelo Lubinda and his tandem of thieves instead of worrying about the impact that Pf corruption, criminalitty and violence had on our people, what insanity is this. No wonder he will always get zeroes. How do you know, may be the shooter in the death of Lawrence Banda has told Police that Mumbi Phiri pulled the trigger or that Mumbi instructed him to shoot. Sean is a waste of political space.

  19. This useless article does not in any way talk about the impact pf corruption has had on our people, this meaningless, cheap and misguided political wannabe has no clue about the damage
    Lungu caused to our Country. Every day HH this UPND that, Zeros are waiting for you in 2026. Emulate Sata, when you lose go and mobilise and organise your ‘brief case’ Party not yapping rubbish every day. You are bitter because you backed the wrong stupid horse. Mr Zeroes mind does not even want to question why Lungu’s Police did not arrest Mumbi Phiri at the time the shooting took place. What does that say about your incompetent Lungu, the worst President Zambia will ever have in a 100 years.

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