By Fred M’membe President of the Socialist Party
We are witnessing a very worrying abuse of the criminal justice system by the UPND leadership, its cadres and the police under its control and direction.
In a clearly coordinated manner, some cadres of the UPND are made to launch complaints of defamation of the President in far flung areas of our country against individuals living in Lusaka. These individuals are then arrested in Lusaka and transported to these areas where they have no lawyers, family or friends. This was the case with Raphael Nakachinda who was arrested in Lusaka and transported to Solwezi and made to find his way back to Lusaka. It’s now the case with Chilufya Tayali who has been arrested in Lusaka and taken to Lukulu in Western Province. We hear there are plans to arrest Sean Tembo and take him to Ikelenge in North Western Province.
We know they are relying on the argument that the alleged defamation was committed on social media which can be accessed anywhere in the country. But this not the rule of law, which they had promised us; this is rule by law.
What is the difference between rule by law and rule of law? Briefly, rule by law indicates that decisions are forced upon a citizenry, while rule of law is to control the unlimited exercise of the power by the supreme lawmaking authority of the land. It is a just application of the law for everybody, keeping in mind that the law doesn’t go against basic precepts of humanity.
Rule of law empowers the citizens to live and work safely. Citizens will not be subjected to arbitrary laws of the government and are protected against any abuse of power by the state.
What they are doing is actually punishing these individuals before they are convicted by making them suffer unnecessarily.
What they are doing is not different from what the PF government did to them and many other citizens. In principle, this not different from what the PF government did to them in those road traffic treason charges.
This is all about ego – ‘I am the President! How dare you say such things about me? I will fix you so that you know where power lies.’ But as we have repeatedly warned, the exercise of power must be a constant practice of self limitation and modesty.
These abuses of our criminal justice system are unacceptable and must be opposed and stopped. As we have repeatedly stated, it is a well-known fact that throughout history, those who administer or control the criminal justice system hold the power with the potential for abuse and tyranny.
The statutory powers to arrest and prosecute those who commit crimes should be reasonably exercised and in good faith. By allowing people to be unjustifiably arrested, detained and prosecuted, those in power are sending a dangerous signal that the criminal justice system can used to persecute and fix opponents of the President.
There’s need to administer justice fairly and impartiality.
In Freedom under the Law, Lord Denning wisely remarked, “All power corrupts. Total power corrupts absolutely. And the trouble about it is that an official who is the possessor of power often does not realise when he is abusing it. Its influence is so insidious that he may believe that he is acting for the public good when, in truth, all he is doing is to assert his own brief authority. The Jack-in-office never realises that he is being a little tyrant.”
We should at all times uphold the rule of law, integrity of the criminal justice system and the right to a fair trial.