No bwana Minister; Pay back the money

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Frank Tayali

Much of last week, I remained holed up in what my Western colleagues would refer to as sticks adding meat to the skeleton of my next project – “One Zambia One Nation; How Hakainde Rejuvenated Our Motto.” When I finally got back to civilization, l found Social media trending with news of compensations by the state; particularly the one involving the Minister of Transport & Logistics Hon. Frank Tayali who has walked away with a whopping K450, 000 for the trauma he allegedly suffered when a gun was pointed at him by an overzealous cop as he escorted opposition party leader then, President Hichilema, to police headquarters for interrogations.

A number of bloggers and personalities of course weighed in and added their voices to the discourse. Of particular interest are the following views:

“I have just made an appointment to meet with my lawyers to sue the state for the 2017 unlawful detention for 7 days and 7 nights. How much should I claim? I would like to donate part of the claim to the youth,” stated UPP leader Saviour Chishimba.

Outspoken UPND Lusaka province party official, Likwanya Matomola, could not be left out at all. “I am sueing the state for torturing me and illegally detaining me 6 times when the police arrested me between 2015 & 2021. Next week on Monday I am taking legal action.”

United Kingdom based UPND member Barbra Chama who is notorious for calling a spade a spade equally shared her thoughts. I will also come and claim compensation for the trauma I suffered due to the insults I faced at the hands of Ichipani thugs…. I want 10 million!”

“Those who suffer harm must be handsomely compensated. And in return, officers who cause the State to compensate victims must be made to personally compensate the State for such conduct,” Green Party leader, Peter Sinkamba, observed.

Topson Kunda, a Central province based UPND official that suffered gushing gunshot wounds prior to the elections maintained that he won’t sue anyone but leave everything to God.

On the hand, others such as the Chilubi MP, Mulenga Fube and his Petauke Central counterpart Emmanuel “Jay Jay” Banda who escaped prison sentence for urinating in the mouth of a journalist and storming a police post to beat up police officers were sarcastic and less civil as expected; describing the move as nothing but looting the treasury!

I won’t waste time discussing the merits or demerits of what others have said, but would rather share my own opinion in truth and honesty.

The decision by Tayali to sue the state for compensation may be legally right, but of course morally wrong. What do we say so?

During different episodes of our liberation struggles……from British colonial rule, dark days of one party rule through to the days of MMD and the brutal PF regime, various individuals have suffered tremendous pain and anguish at the hands of the state. Have we seen any of them stepping forward to claim compensation? Is our economy solid enough to even sustain such unplanned expenses?

I’ll share a vivid personal experience. When I wrote an article, “Sata’s Family Forest Explained,” during the PF regime which detailed a clear pattern of tribalism and regionalism in the choice of those appointed to government positions, the authorities were livid! Former president Edgar Lungu was Home Affairs Minister at the time. I had never seen a person so annoyed before on national TV.

“This is treason!” He exclaimed as he banged his clenched fist on his mahogany office desk. “We know this is the work of UPND. I am now directing investigative wings of government to hunt down whoever is behind this article and bring them to book!”

During the wee hours of the following day, I tucked my passport in one of the inner pockets of my coat, secured my wallet and disappeared into the night. During the next couple of hours, I steered away from the main road as much as possible to avoid being detected. I somehow got a bit relieved when I finally got absorbed into the dense ZAFFICO plantation along the Ndol/Kitwe dual carriageway. During the next couple of days to come, I survived on wild fruits, drinking water from the puddles, dodging snakes and being feasted upon by the mosquitoes. One fateful late afternoon though, I came face to face with armed bandits who frisked me and took away my only earthly possessions – sleeping bag, phone and wallet.

After loitering about in the wilderness for the next 3 weeks, I finally found the Mokambo road where I encountered a charcoal burner. I borrowed his mobile phone and called my wife.

“No one has been here,” she assured me. “You can just come back home now.”

It has never crossed my mind that I can actually sue the state for compensation for the anguish and trauma I endured during those days and nights in the wilderness until this time. I am now contemplating finding a good lawyer to pursue this case. But are we doing the nation any good taking this route?

If my memory serves me right, Local Government Minister Hon. Gary Nkombo equally had a gun put to his head by a trigger happy cop at a fuel station in Chilanga in the presence of his dear lovely wife, Katendi. Have we seen him jumping on skates to demand compensation? Of course, not!

What about the Lamba bull, Copperbelt Minister Elisha Matambo, another poor victim of imprisonment on tramped up charges before the elections; have we seen him laughing all the way to the Bank?

No no no….. Hon. Minister…… surrender that money back to government or better still, donate it to charity otherwise you are setting a very bad precedence. Very soon you’ll see every everyone of us dashing to court for compensation.

Besides, the president has already rewarded you with a lofty position as Minister for your contributions to the struggle which is a lifetime achievement in itself. It may be understandable for someone not serving in government such as Obvious Mwaliteta to sue for compensation, but not a Minister for God’s sake!

By Prince Bill M. Kaping’a
Political/Social Analyst

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