Zambia is as bad as Zimbabwe now – Former Zimbabwe Finance Biti

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Tendai Biti

Here is an excerpt of what he wrote:

The rule of law in Zimbabwe has long been considered broken. The same can now be said of our neighbour north of the Zambezi, Zambia.

Zambia’s leadership seems intent on destroying the 50 years of work post-independence to build democracy by replicating actions we have routinely seen in Zimbabwe, notably the systematic harassment and intimidation of press, civil society and the opposition. While in the past Zambians have looked to the rule of law to protect their rights when under threat, today they find there is little prospect for protection or redress.

Zambia’s major independent newspaper has been closed, with its editor on the run; reports of intimidation and bribery of legal and electoral officials have become widespread; and, now, as of a week ago, popular opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema has been incarcerated and charged with treason.

Shocking as this bold attempt to charge the opposition leader with an offence that in theory could carry the death penalty appears, as well as the violent and shocking manner in which the arrest was conducted, if you look at the pattern of activity by the authorities in recent months and years it is less surprising.

Over time Zambia’s leadership has become more and more confident that they can sit above the law. While cases in which people have spoken ill of the president or alleged corruption in public institutions result in arrests and court charges, justice is slow and often elusive for those outside the ruling elite.

The manner in which last year’s contested election was handled by the Zambian authorities is a landmark case in this history. It’s a story of the cost of electoral authoritarianism. Today, with Hichilema behind bars, it is also testament of how the region and the international community missed a critical opportunity to stem a tide of poor governance by speaking out against an electoral sham.

When Hichilema’s party, the United Party for National Development, challenged the 2016 election result on several grounds he was advised to call on his supporters to remain peaceful and petition the outcome in the courts, as is his constitutional right. The petition was never heard, however, on the basis of a technicality that his party continues to challenge through various appeals and court submissions to this date.

The consequences of the soft approach of observers and the international community following last year’s contested elections in Zambia appears to be coming back to haunt them, however. Their cautious approach and hesitancy to challenge leadership has been taken as a near enough blank check for the elite to step by step deconstruct the rule of law.

While national sovereignty must be respected we must not forget that if the government in question is itself undermining the rule of law and the rights and safety of its own citizens then it has already undermined the grounds for sovereignty in a democratic nation. Moreover, the more states that are allowed to continue down this path unchallenged, the fewer voices there are left to speak out against such infractions and the more leaders elsewhere that will be motivated to preserve their stay in power through illicit means. DM

Tendai Biti was finance minister of Zimbabwe under the unity government from 2009-2013.

11 Responses to Zambia is as bad as Zimbabwe now – Former Zimbabwe Finance Biti

  1. Well said! Couldn’t agree more.

    Newbie
    April 20, 2017 at 9:13 am
    Reply

  2. Mr Biti please keep off Zambia’s peaceful environment.You have more problems in Zim.Under the Geneva Conversion this is very much Un Diplomatic.You failed to fix your country’s economy and now you are buying maize from Zambia.

    George Mundia
    April 20, 2017 at 11:50 am
    Reply

    • George Mundia, stop talking about things you do not understand (Geneva Convention, undiplomatic, etc). Tendai Biti raised very important points. If you can understand what he talked about, tell us if you agree or not and your reasons. The defence of sovereignty, diplomacy, blah blah is what you see when dictators have no reasonable defence for wrong acts against their people.

      Zedian
      April 20, 2017 at 3:15 pm
      Reply

  3. Wena mundia, u bata kuli Naha ye iswane sina Zimbabwe. Bona bubotana bwakwa habowena, we na u yemela muso o pataza saluluti samu shobo, babali hakuna mushobo omumwi okona kunga mubuso konji ba mishobo ye might believe ya no. We na ha ukula silk Bali kuli bu n’ata bwa habo wena banyandile, Bo n’ata Ba matile habo bona kuya mwalinaha lisili baken’isa bubotana!

    Life experience
    April 20, 2017 at 12:59 pm
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  4. Tendai Biti is 100% correct. Due to continued Human Rights Violations Zimbabwe has been deneid access to IMF Financial Resources and given Zambia’s heightened Human Rights Violations It can kiss goodbye to Foreign Aid and Loans from Western Lenders. With the Breakdown of the Rule of Law,serious Human Rights Violations and Poor Governance Zimbia can forget about IMF Money. Lungu has been lambasting the USA,EU and Western Govts for their Criticism of him over the Zambian Election Dispute and Treason Charges slapped on HH.Lungu cannot expect to do this to Western Govts and International Financial Institutions and still get their money. Zambia under illegitimate Lungu is certainly going to be economically and Travel Sanctioned.Lungu’s illegitimacy will remain and the Zambian economy just like that of Zimbabwe will collapse. Time will Tell!!

    Chibwe
    April 20, 2017 at 4:03 pm
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  5. @George Mundia, what do you know about International Relations and Diplomacy? Have you heard expressions like ‘ the world has become a global village? Why do you think the US bombarded Syria last week? Let’s leave it at that otherwise it will take us four years to teach you IR & Diplomacy -cum- the Conventions you mentioned above!

    sinono
    April 20, 2017 at 4:58 pm
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  6. Looks like George Mundia is trying to impress Lungu by using big words which he does not even understand. With a leader like lungu who gets his ideas from the likes of Mugabe and Meseveni, we’ll all be talking about how Mutati failed to fix Zambia’s economy…in the not so distant future. I hope Mundia will be man enough to admit that PF failed the people of Zambia.

    Tallone
    April 20, 2017 at 10:10 pm
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  7. This is the reason why he is advising the country because he passed through the same challenges Zambia is facing under the leadership of Mr Changes
    Even a layman can testify the wrong happenings​ in this country,

    Musole John Kasanga
    April 21, 2017 at 5:16 am
    Reply

  8. biti please do not compare zim politics zambian politic, we are completely different.

    spotlite
    April 21, 2017 at 7:43 am
    Reply

  9. George Mundia please shut up.

    muntungwa
    May 26, 2017 at 6:33 am
    Reply

  10. They do not want to be accused of interfering in the internal affairs of sovereign countries.
    They are busy improving lives for their own people and finding shelter for the thousands of political and economic refugees running away from Africa’s democratic and sovereign countries. Compare Zimbabwe of 1985 – 1988 and today! I wouldn’t want Zambia to go that direction. Not for the sake of PF leaders or anybody else. The DA which Maimane represents is an officially recognised opposition party in South Africa. DA has representatives in the South African parliament (legislative wing) of the government in that country . That is why the South African embassy in Lusaka sent an embassy official to receive Maimane. That is good governance in a true democracy which Zambia should aspire for. This maturity is good for Zambia. Even the vicious racist regime of apartheid South Africa agreed to meet KK over Mandela despite many so-called contemptuous and treasonous statements he made regarding the regime. They could have easily arrested KK for supporting an unlawful ANC which was even waging an armed uprising against that government. PF is not the right party as a ruling party. Let them send that hot head Mwamba to Mozambique or Malawi where he can cause no harm to the economy of Zambia. South Africa is a strategic partner.

    Real Patriot
    May 26, 2017 at 7:05 am
    Reply

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