Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Dora & Zamtel Inquiry - An Unnecessary Tautology?

Well, just when I was about to let my brain enjoy its stay outside my body, a perusal of the country's news media made me decide it is better solemnly admiring me from the outside. That way, I wont have to hit the keyboard with musical reason. Although, my brain is scary when outside my head, I am safer that way as I am protected from the many unreasoned innuendos friends make about my opinions. Hey, but do I care! Their opinions are theirs and I respect them, though some appear to be a majuscule exemplification of infantile reasoning.

And I assert this because it is clear in my mind that they do not know that we should treat those that disrespected us, tortured us, or maimed us, with dignity and respect. Not because we are afraid that if we did not, we too will be treated the same when our time comes. But because it is the only way, we can show that we are more humane than them.

I have no doubt in my mind that in their infantile reasoning the recognition of the inviolability of human dignity dwells beyond the stars. They can not touch. I wonder, if at any one point in their infantile reasoning and melancholic savouring of what they deem "our time to show/get them" they do recognise that courts of law provide even the most despicable criminal the human dignity because he or she is simply a human being.

And this bring me to the subject of this blog. I read that the Commission of Inquiry tasked to investigate the sale of Zamtel and Finance Bank (see end note 1) has asked Former Communications Minister Dora Siliya to appear before it and answer allegations levelled against her over the sale of Zamtel. Unfortunately, our obtuse media has so far not attempted to provide us what these allegations are this time round. In addition, a perusal of the relevant government agencies and State House website does not also provide information on this Commission.(Perhaps, I should learn to accept that we are not yet in the digital age).

So I beg to be allowed to surmise that it is the same allegations that led to the constitution of the Tribunal of February 25, 2009 appointed by the Chief Justice under Section 13 (3) of the Parliamentary and Ministerial Code of Conduct Act, Chapter 16 of the Laws of Zambia following complaints lodged by William Harrington and a consortium of ten (10) NGOs.

The relevant allegation to today's Commission of Inquiry on Zamtel sale, I surmise is that Dora Siliya "against the advice of the Attorney General did award a contract of the sum of US$ 2,000,000 to R.P Capitals Partners of Cayman Island to value the ZAMTEL assets without due regard and / or compliance with the provisions of the Zambia National Tender Board Act, Chapter 394 of the Laws of Zambia"; and that, "she on December 22, 2008 signed a Memorandum of Understanding with R.P Capital Partners Limited on behalf of the Government of Zambia, against the Legal advice of the Attorney General’s chambers".

Further that, in so doing she breached Section 4 (a) and (c) of the Parliamentary and Ministerial Code of Conduct Act.

The Tribunal then made the following findings:
1. That allegation one which has been proved does not fall under Part II of the Parliamentary and Ministerial Code of Conduct Act.
2. That she breached Article 54 sub Article 3 of the Constitution.Article 54(3) provides that "Subject to the other provisions of this Constitution, an agreement, contract, treaty, convention or document by whatever name called, to which Government is a party or in respect of which the Government has an interest, shall not be concluded without the legal advice of the Attorney-General, except in such cases and subject to such conditions as Parliament may by law prescribe".

These allegations, can be argued to be fact and today we do not need parties to go to the Commission and sing the same dog eared song. The findings, though contested (as evidenced in the court cases that ensued) can provide a basis of today's inquiry.

Noteworthy, on the findings is that, I wrote at the time on this blog, in A Disfigurement of Political Opportunities, that it is surely a historic feat that Rupiah Banda can pick a hammer and hit the nail closing his own coffin. It is frightening that a leader can re-appoint a publicily (not legally) unaccepted person. The Dora Siliya re-appointment is amidst overwhelming public discontent with Rupiah Banda's leadership, and it surely is evidential of unfounded political arrogance. This is a time when the few good men left in our political governance institution of cabinet should show their moral mantle(if they do), by stepping down in disagreement with this one act of political foolery and arrogance... The question that begs to be answered and now left to innuendo and speculation is - Whose interests is Rupiah Banda really serving? (http://mbinjimufalo.blogspot.com/2009/06/disfigurement-of-political.html)

Today, if it is agreed that the findings of the tribunal are objective, then the question we should be asking is what is the recourse (see end note 2), and not allowing ourselves to have a circus of rhetoric. This only provides those submitting, the media space that they would otherwise not have.

In my warped perspective of this issue, I here assert that what today the country should be concentrating on, is whether Dora's actions constituted a criminal offence. And, I here hasten to assert that, this is not the purview of a Commission of Inquiry, unless, this one Commission can rationalise itself by adducing reason based on the gaps in the Tribunal and the court judgements that were made relative to this issue! To ask Dora to repeat herself, instead of seeking clarification as to what she may not have said at the time, can be argued to be a denial of rationality. So too, is having individuals submitting a dog eared repertoire of statements that are already known! And that such repetitions and dog eared repertoire of statements can be headline news is harrowing.

Thus, to ascertain that Dora's actions constituted a criminal offence, we need not look further than Section 99, Abuse of authority of office of the Penal Code Act of the Laws of Zambia. Section 99(1) provides that "Any person who, being employed in the public service, does or directs to be done, in abuse of the authority of his office, any arbitrary act prejudicial to the rights or interests of the Government or any other person, is guilty of a misdemeanour. If the act is done or directed to be done for purposes of gain, he is guilty of a felony and is liable to imprisonment for three years". And the provisions of the AC Act on Corrupt practices by,or with, public officers; Corrupt transactions by, or with,private bodies; Corrupt use of official power; and, Coercion of investor.

To which end, the reasoning that should rationalise any new inquiry or investigation in the Zamtel sale should be whether Dora acted in a manner prejudicial to the rights or interests of the Government and or whether in the Zamtel transaction there was personal gain that accrued to her. And this, is an interrogative framework for law enforcement agencies.

Thus, it can be arguable that the constitution of this Commission of Inquiry is simply an unnecessary tautology evidencing infantile fixation with the past. It is seriously time, law enforcement agencies and governance institutions in this country are allowed the professional space to provide answers to public officials behaviours deemed to be inimical to the State.

Commissions of Inquiries are quite often merely political opportunistic tools that simply serve to provide an assumption that a government is functioning. In addition, in an environment permeated with infantile reasoning, Commission of Inquiries can also be argued to serve to promote egoistic behaviours that in the long term negate the very essence of the Inquiry.

Let it not be undoubted that considering Dora's role in the Zamtel sale in a law enforcement interrogative framework will serve to enhance public confidence in law enforcement agencies, and indeed provide inarguable evidence of effective State functioning.

The bottom line, therefore, is that we should simply have let law enforcement agencies go to work and build a prima facie case against Dora!

Ciao. I can now allow my brain back outside my head. Good night.

End Note 1. Well, sale of Finance Bank has been reversed before the Commission submits its report. So I hope nobody will make submissions on this issue. Perhaps, then we will save public funds as the sittings will be brief.

End Note 2. Interestingly, in the recess of my memory there is a case of someone else signing an MoU on behalf of the State, but it was not an issue then. Wonder why?

Saturday, October 22, 2011

A Bankruptcy of Reason

Today, is yet another turning point in my attempt to understanding the African psyche, and in particular the so-called educated Zambians ability to reason. Another Task force on Corruption is emerging, and as I had said years ago, I say it again. "It is hogwash, especially if again we allow private individuals to pretend that they are the epitome of anti-corruption".

And in the normal bankruptcy of reason typic of so-called educated Zambians, I was put in a partisan box. "You are pro-RB, that is why you are against a task force".

Pity, is the only word on my mind. Pity. And deep down I ask myself, if ever in their melancholic times they remember Mukelabai Mukelabai. I guess they do not.

To argue against a failed path, does not necessarily mean one belongs to a particular interest group. Very often, I always ask myself why it is that humans can never accept that there are those that sit in the middle, and that it is these that provide objectivity to illogical derivations.

A task force with private individuals is not a panacea to corruption. It is merely a means of enriching a few non-state agents at the expense of diminishing confidence in often qualified public law enforcement and prosecution agents.

Lest we forget, the late President's Chiluba's immunity to criminal prosecution was lifted on the basis of mostly allegations that US $20.5 million dollars for arms purchases was diverted from the public coffers for personal benefit as the arms were never procured, and that in October 1997 a legally binding contract was entered into between the Zambian government and the Carlington Sales Company for supply of 100 000 metric tons of white corn at a cost of US$6 million, but the maize was never delivered!

In our dossier on corruption at that time, two interesting names had surfaced. These being Ari Beni Menashe and Katebe Katoto.

And based on our conviction that a President's alleged tango with such individuals provided adducible evidence of corruption, we marched to parliament to lobby for the removal of Chiluba's immunity.

For those that document events in our country, they will recall that they was conflict between State agents and private individuals as to how Chiluba should be charged. A conflict that was not necessary, as the grounds for lifting the immunity provided a basis on which the former President could be prosecuted.

A Task Force on Corruption was thus created. And the earlier grouping was premised on inter-agency law enforcement cooperation. Notable is that the then DPP, Mukelebai Mukelebai, initially chaired the Task Force. Qualified personnel to constitute a dedicated investigative team were seconded from the Zambia Police Service, Anti-Corruption Commission and other specialised agencies of Governments like Auditor General’s office, Bank of Zambia, Director of Public Prosecutions’ Chambers, Cabinet Office, Government Valuation Department and Zambia Intelligence and Security Services.

Unfortunately, it can be argued that an incumbent President appeared to be under siege, and thus the conflict resulted in a diligent Public Prosecutor being hounded out of office (despite an inquiry not finding him guilty of private interest alleged wrongful conduct).

A parody of anti-corruption emerged from the private interest, and indeed the pursuit of geopolitical interests from some western countries resulting in private individuals usurping Governmental functions. Individuals outside governmental frameworks even ended up signing Task Force MoUs with some Donor countries with the full knowledge that the Task Force on Corruption was not an agency that could appropriate public funds other than through cooperating agencies.

The end result was that Chiluba ended up in court being charged with crimes that were not entirely the basis of the removal of his immunity. The Ari Beni Menashe and Katebe Katoto alleged dealing never constituted cases against Chiluba!

Instead the Zambian populace and indeed the international community were treated to a repertoire of a plunder matrix (in part premised on the ZAMTROP account) that was reduced to several counts of theft by Public Servant Contrary to sections 272 and 277 of the Penal Code, Cap. 87 of the Laws of Zambia.

And of course the rest is history. However, the bottom line is the Task Force under Mwanawasa was inarguably a usurpation of State functions by the private interest, and this we today can not allow.

That there is a Task Force on Corruption to be created is not disputable, what is disputable is that Government does not necessarily need to create a Task Force in the lines of the one we experienced as a country. To even use the word Task Force on Corruption is preposterous!

The country's law enforcement agencies have cooperative frameworks defined under the National Anti-Corruption Policy of 2009. After all a declaration of anti-corruption cooperation was signed by law enforcement agencies in Siavonga in 2009.

To which end, it is incumbent on the current Government to show anti-corruption leadership by providing the political will and increased governmental support to law enforcement agencies within a governmental framework of a joint and cooperative investigation of any allegations of corruption by the ex-President and his ministers. Constituting a Task Force in the lines of the 2002 one is misplaced, and at most will merely serve to undermine the confidence of the country's law enforcement agencies in undertaking their work diligently and professionally.

Private interests and private individuals should be kept at bay, else as a country we are merely manifesting a bankruptcy of governmental reason!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Thinking about Berlusconi

I think I have always known that Berlusconi is a political reality that is envied. Yesterday, I stood on the pedestal of reason and watched how those that believe only the media can raise their standing in society kowtow before another's self-interests. They thought theirs and his were one footpath, but alas how blind they are. Today, from the pedestal of reason I see a Berlusconi rearing its head in preparedness for the ultimate reach. Many have already taken up strategic positions, and this many, only those that think can decipher it is all part of the script written by Berlusconi. Come tomorrow, please do not say I never warned you

Sunday, October 2, 2011

A tragedy of governance reason

A look at President Michael C. Sata's top ministerial appointments, when compared to the last Cabinet is foreboding.

Ministry of Defence - Geoffrey B. Mwamba [Kalombo Mwansa]; Ministry of Finance - Alexander Chikwanda [Situmbeko Musokotwane]; Ministry of Home Affairs - Kennedy Sakeni [Mkhondo Lungu]; Ministry of Foreign Affairs - Chishimba Kambwili [Kabinga Pande]. I have no apologies to make, but the names in the parenthesis showed the Zambia my forefathers fought for. And that is a Zambia without ethical and regional hegemony in key areas of the governance of my country.

As a people, let us not bury our heads in the sand, and pretend the egression of ethnic and regional hegemony does not bemock the very essence our forefathers fought the Colonialists. That we have a vice-president of occidental descent is laudable, but that ethnic and regional representation is wanting, is a parody of a people's expectations. A tragedy of governance reason.

(first posted on FB wall on Saturday, October 1, 2011 at 01:48hours)