Kabimba “attacks” Brig. Gen. Miyanda

PF Secretary General Wynter Kabimba

PF Secretary General Wynter Kabimba

Zambian eye Godfrey Miyanda

Brig Gen Miyanda

Zambia’s Justice Minister Wynter Kabimba said opposition Heritage Party leader Brig. Gen. Godfrey Miyanda was not qualified to his level to debate legal issues with him during a live programme hosted by a UK based Online Radio Crossfire.

The live debate Tuesday night, September 3, 2013 that was also aired on ZNBC Radio and Kitwe Flava Radio discussed the governance issues and the controversy surrounding the impending ratification of Acting Chief Justice Lombe Chibesakunda.

Through out the debate the Justice Minister who is also the ruling party – Patriotic Front General Secretary tried to evade to questions saying he was on the panel with a person who do not understand issues.

“This is a very sad debate, a debate with a man who doesn’t understand procedure,” Kabimba charged when commenting on the Parliament’s Select Committee that rejected Justice Chibesakunda saying she does not qualify to be Chief Justice.

Kabimba said Brig. Gen. Miyanda and others criticizing the appointment of Justice Chibesakunda are doing so from a point of ignorance.

“Now this is the problem we have in this country. We have people like General Miyanda here, with due respect to him who walk around this country purporting to possess the knowledge on the constitution when they don’t even qualify to interpret the law. This is very dangerous for this country and it should come to a stop,” Kabimba charged.

He continued: “I’m a qualified lawyer in this country. I spent five years reading the law and work on these matters every day, not from an academic point of view but from a practical one. This debate with a man who clearly does not understand the law will not be very helpful to the listeners.”

“We have people that know everything in this country. I’m not a solider and I cannot claim to know how to command a platoon like General Miyanda does. It is therefore important that the good General hires services of a lawyer next time he wants to comment on legal matters.”

Brig. Gen. Miyanda who kept interjecting agued saying the fact that he is a Soldier does not mean he doesn’t understand the law.

“I don’t need to be a lawyer to understand what our Republican constitution says. What you are offering here is your opinion and what I’m offering here is my opinion. It still does not make you right about these issues and this why we have the Courts of Law for correct interpretation,” said Brig. Gen. Miyanda.

But Kabimba insisted, “I am more qualified than you sir. It’s like you are more qualified in Army. I repeat the man do not understand”

Kabimba said what Brig. Gen. Miyanda had said was not true that Parliament had rejected Justice Chibesakunda. He said the HP leader may not understand the procedures of Parliament adding that the Select Committee do not have the final say over the House.

He said the Select Committee will give a recommendation which the House can either take it or not. He said the Committee may reject a certain name for their own interest hence their decision is not final or biding to the House.

Kabimba said he expected Brig. Gen. Miyanda to understand the procedures as someone who served the country to the position of Vice president under MMD’s Frederick Chiluba Administration.

But Brig. Gen. Miyanda explained that there is no need to go ahead to present the name rejected by the Committee to be debated by the House and present it to a vote. He said due to numbers in the House a certain issue could be passed despite it not meeting the legal requirements.

Kabimba maintained that Justice Chibesakunda is qualified to hold the position of Chief Justice. He said the issue of her having attained retirement age 65 being advanced cannot hold because the constitution allows one to Act in that position for a period of seven years.

“Our constitution allows her to continue in that appointment for a further seven years maximum but broken into shorter periods on contract. Justice Chibesakunda is acting, she is not the substantive CJ and for us that is what is important” Mr. Kabimba said.

He explained that the issue surrounding her appointment from stakeholders such as Law Association of Zambia is whether to have a Chief Justice who is on contract. He said the worry was that a person on contract could be compromised saying the issue of Justice Chibesakunda qualification was undisputable.

But Brig. Gen. Miyanda challenged Kabimba to state which part of the constitution that provides for a Chief Justice to act for such a period of time. Kabimba cited Article 91 to 97 which talks about the appointment of a Chief Justice. He further explained that there has been some amendments made to that effect.

On the goveranance issues Brig. Gen. Miyanda has been raising in the press, Kabimba said government do not run the country by getting what is being reported in the press. He advised the HP leader to write or visit his Office as it is always open for members who would want to discuss national issues.

“We do not run government through the press. Brig. Gen. Miyanda should have written to my office and I could have responded,” said Kabimba.

But Brig Gen. Miyanda said a proactive government acts on press statements, demonstrations. He disputed Kabimba’s assertions that the issues he raised were hearsay.

“Don’t wait for people to come to you its like when you want people to come to your office and knee before you,” said Brig. Gen. Miyanda.

He said other PF Ministers Kennedy Sakeni, Mwansa Kapeya and Fackson Shamenda had been responding to his press statements and wondered how Kabimba would say government do not run the country through the press.

On the electoral act, Brig. Gen. Miyanda told Kabimba that as Justice Minister he should be careful with the statements. He said Kabimba’s attacks on Electoral Commission of Zambia were unfortunate especially that he is Justice Minister.

In response, Kabimba told the HP leader that he must realize that he was also the General Secretary of the PF. Kabimba said he issued the statement on ECZ following a clip he was shown during a live programme on ZNBC.  He said Brig. Gen. Miyanda was not aware of what was happening on the ground since he does not participate in by-elections.

“Brig. Gen. Miyanda do not participate in elections. His party has no capacity to participate in elections so he doesn’t understand what we go through. He doesn’t even have a Councilor,” charged Kabimba.

But Brig. Gen. Miyanda said he does not need to have a councilor or participate in elections to contribute on governance issues. He however praised ECZ saying it has improved but urged PF not to interfere with the Electoral body.

Rating PF to MMD, Kabimba said the PF had done better in two years than the 20 years of MMD when Brig. Gen. Miyanda was part of it as National Secretary and Vice president. Defending the PF poor governance record, Kabimba told Brig. Gen. Miyanda that he was part of the MMD that bared First President Kenneth Kaunda from re-contesting in 1996.

Brig. Gen. Miyanda cheeped in and said, “where was your President?” Kabimba said he was not talking about his president Michael Sata but the person he was debating with whom he says was trying to come out so clean.

On the Public Order Act, Brig. Gen. Miyanda challenged Kabimba to explain why the PF had continued to bar the opposition from holding public gatherings. Kabimba said he had not heard of anyone denied to hold public meetings during by-elections. He said in other incidences it is normal that if the Police is not ready they would ask you to change the dates which he said his party went through such when in opposition.

On demonstrations, Kabimba said, ’there is no country in the world that can allow citizens to protest against their government.”