By Antonio Mourinho Mwanza, SP Deputy General Secretary
Social media has been awash with a debate concerning the numerous compensations that some people have been awarded following their complaints of injustice against the State. Some people have argued that the compensations are too exorbitant and selectively and exclusively being given to UPND cadres and sympathisers; others have argued that the State is setting a very wrong and dangerous precedence that it will fail to contain; yet others have been to the extreme, claiming that no one deserves to be compensated because according to them, “their are a lot of other people who suffered at the hands of the police since UNIP, yet they have not been compensated, so why should others be compensated”.
Here is my two ngwee:
1. It is only proper and just that any citizen who is abused or unjustly treated must be compensated. The nature and amounts of the compensation should be subject to litigation.
2. Perpetrators of State abuse and injustice must personally be held liable and punished. This would send a strong signal to deter would-be offenders.
However, here are some questions that beg serious answers;
1. Why is the Attorney General entering into consent judgments in favour of the complainants without even litigating or defending the State? Why is the Attorney General not contesting the cases? Why is he not defending the State and the Taxpayers money? Is it because the complainants are UPND members and UPND sympathisers?
2. Why is it that, it’s only UPND cadres and sympathisers who are being compensated? And these compensations are being done so generously and so expeditiously; why isn’t Government compensating many others whose cases have been in courts for longer periods of time?
3. Why is the State accepting to pay hefty legal
fees to the lawyers representing the plaintiffs? Is it because most of these lawyers are UPND lawyers or supporters of UPND?
4. What precedence is Government setting and is the State ready to deal with the ramifications of the precedence it is setting?
5. What is Government doing to bring the perpetrators of abuse and injustice to book?
6. How is Government intending to deal with the many cases of Opposition leaders that they are arresting on a weekly basis, on frivolous and vexatious trumped m-up charges? How will the State deal with these matters when the victims begin to sue for compensation?