A day before the Lusaka High Court was to make a ruling over the release of former President Rupiah Banda’s passport the government “wickedly” announced the cancellation of the same and publicly advised all border posts not to recognize the document.
And as expected the Lusaka High Court yesterday ruled that the passport should be released to Mr. Banda who was expected to leave for Tanzania today to attend a meeting of the global smart partnership where he had been invited by that country’s President Jakaya Kikwete.
The ruling by the High court was therefore totally useless, nugatory and an exercise in futility because the government had already, anticipated its release and made sure that RB would not travel. This was a throwback to the tribulations that second Republican President Fredrick Chiluba suffered long before he was acquitted.
Sadly this has become the trade mark of this government. Impunity and disregard of the law are the order of the day.
Fortunately some elements of the judiciary still remain dedicated to the application of the law as envisaged by the constitution.
Otherwise the outlook for our country would have been totally bleak with a real threat for anarchy.
We say so because the issue of the passport was in court and yet the government took it upon itself to take preemptive measures to nullify the expected verdict given the circumstances, which clearly do not support the unconscionable conduct of the government.
The government decision on RB’s passport shows the tremendous cynicism and impunity that is currently prevailing. The former president is by law entitled to have a passport and is by law entitled to travel.
These perquisites have been provided by parliament and only parliament with a two thirds majority can remove them.
The unilateral government decision to remove them is against the law as provided for by law. This is wrong, illegal and a clear abuse of the law by those who have issues with the former president Rupiah Banda as a person.
There is need to distinguish the person from the office. If some people feel aggrieved that President Banda as president offended them for decisions he took against them in areas where they transgressed provisions of the law and business conduct, this should not be extended to him as a person.
A president acts on information and advice from experts. He has no power to stop the Development Bank of Zambia from claiming money that has been fraudulently procured by misrepresentation. This is a matter for the courts.
There is no law in this country which allows individual rights to be taken away without due process even where a person is appearing in court for criminal matters. The law provides for the courts to exercise discretion in its totality.
Therefore the current vendetta against RB is not only illegal but a very clear abuse of the law and most importantly a mockery of the judiciary for the executive to pre-empt judicial decisions.