PF thief-thug ‘masholi’: you must return and explain what you stole, HH has given you last warning

Pf Thief-Thug ‘Masholi’: You Must Return And Explain What You Stole, Hh Has Given You Last Warning

PF thief-thug ‘masholi’: you must return and explain what you stole, HH has given you last warning

Dr Austin Mbozi
Dr Austin Mbozi

PF thief-thug ‘masholi’: you must return and explain what you stole, HH has given you last warning

‘Here is my take’, to use the expression of CNN’s Fareed Zakaria.

The first advice is that President Hakinde Hichilema (HH) should not again remind you the PF thief-thugs to return what you stole in exchange for freedom. The President was politically and legally correct in promising your freedom in exchange for repaying and confession of your sins. But he will not remind you again because you have abused his approach to get away with crime.

My second advice is that you PF thief-thugs must come forward to Zambia Police, Anti-Corruption Commission and/or Drug Enforcement Commission (the law enforcement agencies) and meet four conditions: (a) hand in the list of everything you have ever stolen, (b) tick from that list which ones you have already ‘eaten’ and which ones you have not yet ‘eaten’, (c) sign a civil agreement with the state how you will repay what you have already eaten and (d explain in detail how you stole, who you stole with, who helped you steal and how much benefit your theft associates got. My third advice is that when a thief-thug meets all the above four conditions the law agencies must (a) get clearance from the Office of the President which of these details should be media-given, (b) grant immunity to such a thief-thug and (c) turn that thief-thug as state witness against his/her theft associates.

This seems to be what President HH had in mind when he was announcing his declare-and-be-forgiven policy. He was right at his press briefing that the law he found allows for this. It is not true that this law applies only to big politicians. Suppose ‘mbeba ndiyo’ (relish of rats) are stolen daily in Petauke and police have problems catching the thieves. The law allows the granting of immunity to any of the thieves who will go to police and meet those four above-mentioned conditions. This thief’s cooperation is in public interest because all his theft-associates will not only be caught, but all uneaten stolen mbeba will be returned to the owners and police will destroy the entire ‘kuba mbeba’ network. The problem in the case of PF thief thugs is they want to meet only a part of condition (a) and expect freedom. They want to handover only what is remaining of what they initially stole, and even then not voluntarily but after they are caught. Then keep what has not been discovered and not pay back what they have already eaten. Supposing a PF thief thug confesses that he used all his stolen millions to enjoy Swazi women (ikukunhya)? You let them free?

The Faith Musonda deal was an abuse. Faith did not volunteer, she was caught. She has not told us what else she is keeping, who she stole with, when and how much of the wealth initially stolen she had eaten. And the state agencies are also not following the principle behind the policy. They have not given us details of who Faith stole with etc. This is why the general public is against any more declare-and be- forgiven policies. If Faith had given us so much detail, so many PF thief-thugs would have been implicated by now and the corruption fight would have made a lot of headway. So, why was Faith forgiven without her giving these details? Or did she give details but the agencies are hiding them? Imagine that News Diggers claimed that Faith’s money came directly from Bank of Zambia! Why are details hidden?

The reason why there seems to be differences in policy/opinions between the presidency and the media, particularly News Diggers, is because they are referring to the same laws but emphasising different philosophical reasons that guided formation of those laws. The law allows for some level of declare-and-be- forgiven policy, on condition that the four conditions are followed. The philosophical principle behind this is because Zambian laws try to reconcile two moral principles: The deotological principle of retribution and the utilitarian principle of public good. The retribution principle is what Jesus of Nazareth referred to as an eye for an eye. You must pay for your crime for punishment’s own sake. But the utilitarian principle holds that you must be punished in order to deter you or other potential criminals from harming the public. The law permitted the declare-and-be-forgiven principle to serve the deterrence goal. Since fighting corruption is costly to the state, it is permitted to consider how the public might suffer should there be more costs than benefits in its fight. A president is a custodian of public interests. This is why top leaders, not just HH but all leaders including Nelson Mandela, Frederik de Klerk and Desmond Tutu who created South Africa’s Ubuntu-based Truth and Reconciliation Commission, have been extremely sensitive when it came to fighting politically-motivated crimes. Remember that Oliver Tambo asked then Zambia’s president Kenneth Kaunda to imprison innocent man Katiza Cebekhulu to prevent him from testifying against Winnie Mandela for murdering Stompie Seipei! Political crimes might implicate associates of ruling leaders.

But News Diggers’ point is that from experience, Zambian crooks abuse the public good approach. And retribution does not stop asset recovery. You can imprison Petauke mbeba thieves, then return to owners of the mbeba that were exhibited in court, as happened to former minister Austin Liato when K2.1 million was hidden in his farm.

President HH himself so far seems not interested in stealing. But PF thief-thugs have abused his public good approach. So, the only option is to resort to the retribution approach pressed by News Diggers. So, from today onwards, even if a PF thief thug volunteers’ property, do not immideiely forgive. Let them fulfill all the four above-explained stages. If not let them go to jail but still give us back what they stole.

The author invites jurisprudence lawyers like John Sangwa or Munyonzwe Hamalengwa to respond to this article. Phone +260 978 741920. Email: [email protected]

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