The Commission of Inquiry into voting patterns and electoral violence says it received petitions to the effect that President Edgar Lungu encouraged violence among his party supporters by appointing Chishimba Kambwili, Stephen Kampyongo, Davies Chama, and Bowman Lusambo as his Cabinet Ministers.
The 15-member Commission, which was chaired by Justice Munalula Lisimba in its report, revealed that petitions were received from stakeholders that the President encouraged violence by appointing people who allegedly uttered hate speech and engaged in physical violence.
According to the report, the petitioners singled out Kampyongo saying his appointment to Cabinet to be in charge of the Ministry that maintains law and order, portrayed an endorsement of violence.
“The Commission received submissions that violence was caused by party leaders that rewarded individuals who were reported to have engaged in political violence. Petitioners submitted that the President encouraged violence among party supporters by the appointment of Honourable Chishimba Kambwili; Honourable Stephen Kampyongo; Honourable Davies Chama and Honourable Bowman Lusambo as his Cabinet Ministers, after the three were alleged to have uttered hate speech and/or engaged in physical violence. Regarding Honourable Stephen Kampyongo, a petitioner submitted that his appointment to Cabinet, and to be in charge of a Ministry that maintains law and order, portrayed the endorsement of violence,” the Commission report read.
“A petitioner in Chipili District submitted that because of rewarding people who were associated with violence, it became a custom that violence increased in each district that the President visited. The petitioner submitted that in Chipili District, violent clashes occurred between PF cadres and supporters of an Independent Parliamentary candidate during a rally that the President held in the district in 2016. Another petitioner submitted that it was an open secret that there were very ruthless cadres who had been appointed as Cabinet Ministers, while others had been sent in the foreign service or were appointed to head parastatal organizations.”
The Commission revealed at its special sitting on December 6, 2018 that Kampyongo denied having caused violence in Shiwang’andu District during the run-up to the 2015 Presidential by-election by saying that he was 65 Km away from the where the incident happened.
“On allegations against Hon. Stephen Kampyongo relating to the January, 2015, helicopter incident in Shiwang‘andu District, the Commission at its special sitting on 6 December, 2018, received submissions from Hon. Kampyongo rebutting his involvement in the said incident. In his denial, Honourable Kampyongo submitted that on the material day, he was 65 kilometres away from the place where the incident happened. He was disputing the submission made by Honourable Patrick Mucheleka who contended that he saw Honourable Kampyongo at the scene of the incident and that Honourable Kampyongo was commanding PF cadres to attack the helicopter. Honourable Mucheleka had told the Commission that he even had video footage showing Honourable Kampyongo executing the role that he was being accused of,” the report read.
According to the report, another petition was submitted in Solwezi District to the effect that Local Government Permanent Secretary Bishop Eddie Chomba was rewarded with a PS position only after he publicly insulted UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema at a public rally in Kabwe.
“In Solwezi District, a petitioner submitted that Bishop Eddie Chomba and Dr Leah Mutale were rewarded with positions of Permanent Secretary. Bishop Eddie Chomba was rewarded after he insulted the leader of the opposition UPND at a public rally in Kabwe District during the run-up to the 2015 Presidential by-election,” the report read.
Meanwhile, Defence Minister Davies Chama denied having shot a Mushaukwa Mushaukwa, but admitted that his driver shot the victim in self defense.
“With regards to allegations against Honourable Davies Chama, the Commission, at its special sitting on the 12th of December, 2018, received submissions from Hon. Chama wherein he denied having shot Mr Mushaukwa Mushaukwa. Mr Chama, however, admitted that the shooting incident took place in Mulobezi on the material day, but that it was his driver Brian Nyoni who fired three shots in self-defence. The said Mr Nyoni also appeared before the Commission and submitted that he was the one who shot Mr Mushaukwa, in self-defense,” read the report.
And the Commission stated that it did not get Kambwili’s side of the story on the allegations levelled against him as he refused to speak in his defense.
Meanwhile, the Commission observed that President Lungu had not provided information on how allegations made against his Ministers had been addressed, hence the public perception that perpetrators of violence were rewarded.
“The Commission further notes that the perception that the perpetrators of violence who show no remorse for their actions continue to be rewarded and not punished, hinders the reconciliation process. The Commission further observes that if this situation continues, it has the potential of perpetuating a culture of violence in the country in that cadres will continue to believe that unleashing violence is beneficial,” the report read.
And in its findings, the Commission stated that President Lungu’s failure to act on allegations made against his Ministers before appointing them continued to create a public perception that he was promoting wrongdoing.
“The Commission finds that: (a) the failure by appointing authorities to act on allegations made against proposed appointees and ensure that those allegations are concluded before appointments continue to perpetuate public perception of reward for wrongdoers; and (b) this perception of reward for wrongdoers contributes to political tension in the country. The Commission recommends that appointing authorities should be taking all the necessary steps to ensure that the people being appointed to public office are cleared of all allegations levelled against them and that the public knows that such individuals have been cleared so that an impression is not created to the effect that there are people who are being rewarded for engaging in violence and hate speech against rivals of the ruling party,” read the report.-ND