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Zambia: Politician jailed for assaulting journalists

A Zambia ruling Movement for Multi-party Democracy (MMD) politician has been jailed for assaulting journalists who had gone to cover President Rupiah Banda at the Lusaka International Airport last July.

Lusaka Province MMD youth chairman Chris Chalwe was convicted on November 9 by the Lusaka Magistrates Court which found him guilty of assaulting journalists from state-owned Times of Zambia and the privately-owned the Post newspaper when they went to cover President Rupiah Banda at the Lusaka International Airport.

Chalwe gained notoriety at the beginning of the year when he threatened a female leader of the opposition Forum for Democracy and Development (FDD) leader, Edith Nawakwi, with rape for her criticism of President Banda who has clearly reversed some of his predecessor’s policies particularly regarding corruption.

Notably, President Banda’s government has repealed an abuse of office clause in the Anti-Corruption Commission Act under which former President Frederick Chiluba and most of his top officials were charged with and some of them have since been convicted.

Commenting on Chalwe’s convinction, a contributor going by the name Munthu, wrote on the Lusaka Times:

It is very difficult to declare the Zambian Judiciary impartial, based singly on this one case involving an insignificant Youth Chakutichakuti nonentity. Calling a spade, a spade is not in any way spewing poopoo. It’s telling a fact as it is, A FACT, without burying one’s head in the sand.

Recently, CCZ, who supposedly, have no political leanings, expressed their disappointment with the selective prosecutions and biased judgements that have been the order of the day in the Zambian Judiciary, confounding the feelings of many Zambians about the dispensation of Justice in the nation, under RB’s reign.

For any sane neutral mind, such a call by CCZ can only be ignored at the expense of posterity.

Another contributor by the name Chimunya wrote on the same site:

As long as [Michael ] Sata [the main opposition leader in Zambia] keeps suing and running to the courts, no PF kaponya can say the courts are compromised. Chalwe has been charged and convicted. Already some are saying he is going to appeal – hello! that is his right under the law of the Republic of Zambia. This right of appeal is open to everybody not just MMD members. It is very worrisome that certain people supporting a certain party do not seem to understand the due process of the law. I shudder to think what kind of justice would be meted out to non-Bembas should they ever gain power (God forbid).”

The sentence is a sign of the independence of the judiciary in Zambia,
says Mr. Capitalist
:

I thought the Judiciary was compromised and biased towards the MMD [the ruling party]. How then can the magistrate sentence a key MMD youth figure?? PF bloggers (Smoothcriminal and Deja vu), please explain.

Him disagrees:

The judicial system is not independent of presidential powers cause high court judges are appointed and disappointed by the president.Hence controlling the system.Period bane!!!!!!!!

Deja Vu responds to Mr. Capitalist's comment:

#4 Mr. Capitalist – 3 E’s steering economic growth – To start with Iam not PF, Iam just a Zambian who is fed up with lies by your MMD(we had our MMD until 1996). Secondary the verdict may depend on one of the 2-ie a)-The Megistrate could be one of the incorruptible species remaining in our failed state.b) Chalwe could be sacrificial lamb just to show us that the judiciary is not compromised, c) Chalwe may not the heavy weight he thougt he was. If the reason is (a) then I will be a very happy person. But take it from me unlike you, I dont blog on behalf of any Party. I do it because I feel the injustices and I dont need any to show me that.

But justice delayed is justice denied:

much as the verdict is welcome, i’m left wondering why our court cases take too long. this case was in courts for over 1 year

Fide hopes that this is the beginning of real justice in the country:

We have at least seen some justice being done. Bravo! Judiciary don’t fall into traps of being intimidated by MMD [the ruling party]. No one is above the law be it opposition or ruling party. Hope this the beginning of the real justice in Zambia

Joke Joe says the whole thing is just a game:

This is just a game being played, the chap will appeal and get bail then win the case on grounds that there is no sufficient evidence for common assault. More over he has been acquited on the charge which he was given and convicted on the judges’ own charge. don’t praise the judicially yet!! ok?

Him emphasises Joke Joe's point:

Remember bloggers that he has been given 14 days in which to appeal.Which simply means that,they are blackmailing us.After appealing they will adjourn the case to a later date and knowing us zambians the way we are,that is,good at forgetting, we will eventually forget about the whole thing and he (chalwe)will become free and silent active member of the party.
What has happened to katele kalumba and the group,Xavier Chungu, etc? we need to see these people in jail as soon as possible.

Mr. Capitalist advises bloggers to think critically:

Some bloggers base their opinions on personalities rather than analyzing the issues hence they place themselves as “experts” of everything there is to know in this world. Masters of all knowledge and attack anyone who does not agree with their opinions (based on personalities rather than rational thought).

Today the judiciary is compromised…tomorrow no that judge is not compromised. You have been manipulated so much by a tabloid [the Post newspaper] that it has started thinking for you to the point were you have started regurgitating whatever is published in that vuvuzela [meaning the Post newspaper].

Her Ladyship congratulates the magistrate:

Well done your honour the magistrate! Scumbugs like Chalwe need to be sent to jail so that they do not push this country into anarchy. If these savages are left uncaged, they can set our country on fire as the masses take the law in their own hands. This implies no one would be able to rule this country whether RB, Sata, HH, Chipimo JR etc.
Further, to contribute on autonomy of the judiciary, it is right now a fallacy as all high court judges and supreme court justices are appointed and disappointed by the president. However among the men and women of the cloth are some very brave members who cannot easily be compromised. However, for some their ambition to please the executive in exchange for higher appointments supercedes their sense of respomsibility to the constitution.

Will the jailing of Chris Chalwe inhibit both physical and verbal attacks Zambian journalists are subject to in the course of their duties? Only time will tell.

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