Saturday, 7 February 2009

Mvungi, Mkapa’s still indictable under constitution


When I read the statement by Dr. Adrian Sengondo Mvungi, the head of the faculty of Law at The University of Dar es Salaam that there are no legal premises in our constitution under which we can sue former president Benjamin Mkapa, I scratched my head afresh.

Ironically, Mvungi erroneously based his argument on the fact that our constitution does not bar the sitting or former president to do business, getting loans from banks and such. He’s right in this. But when it comes to committing an offence, methinks. He’s wrong.


Our Penal Code is clear that whoever, with intention or malice aforethought commits any offence is liable and shall be charged with crime so committed. This is the golden rule to base our arguments on Mkapa’s saga.

So if you look at Mkapa as a president, you’ll concur with Mvungi. But when you look at Mkapa as a bin-Adam, there is a window through which to try him.

No doubts. Mkapa abused the office of the president. This is an offence. He also was involved in acts that sabotaged our economy as he betrayed his oath of office. These can not be made simple offences one can easily sweep under the carpet.

To jog the mind of the likes of Mvungi, looking at the revelations inculpating Mkapa’s ministers and right-hand men like Andrew Chenge, chances are, if we do our homework well, Mkapa will be connected to all these deals. For example, nobody shouted to the top of his to support radar and presidential jet deals from which Chenge is said to have minted and printed billions. If a mere AG could get such big cut, what of his boss?

Mvungi’s worries must act as a reminder for us to dig deeper. Otherwise, Mkapa can be legally put to task. He is not the first or the last.


What I just can’t understand for those that aver that Mkapa can not be tried is, isn’t a crime to take public property you were entrusted to guard? Isn’t the taking of Kiwira Coal Mine a crime in itself for which Mkapa can be brought to book? If our laws and academia can not see this we’re truly doomed. And there are nugatory and unfit to rule us.


The general rule of the penal code is clear. Suppose the president rapes someone. Will you wake up saying; I am guru of law. And I see nowhere this can be tried?

What should be reckoned with is technically under which sections and with which offences Mkapa must be sued. But suing him is very possible legally.

If Mvungi thinks he is right. Then how did Zambians sue their former president? I am rising this issue knowingly how many African constitutions are symmetrical especially those of the Anglo-phone countries. We can send our lawyers there to take a leaf from this precedent.

The Philippine tried and jailed former president Joseph Ejercito Astrada. Astrada was sentenced to reclusio perpetua (permanent imprisonment). In the Philippines, it is one of two sentences, the other being life imprisonment designed to replace death penalty and is, in legal parlance, almost synonymous with life imprisonment.

Shall we fail to bring Mkapa to justice (though this is impossible); we can do what Indonesia did after it was legally unable to charge its former dictator Eliasa Surhato thanks to being terminally ill. The state preferred legal action against his son Hutomo Mandala Putra aka Tommy Surhato whom the judge sentenced to 15 years in jail and he was the first member of Surhato family to face the music.


For the love of political affiliation even kickbacks we may back Mkapa. What of his wife, children, consigliore and such that are in the big picture?

Importantly, when we discuss how to try Mkapa we should avoid political statements like doing business while in power. But again, even if president is allowed to do business, not illegal ones like profiteering or stealing public properties as it happened in Kiwira scam.

The issue here is simple. How did Mkapa acquire his additional wealth in that the one he acquired after being wheeled to power? How did Mkapa family acquire their wealth? How did Mkapa the person used president’s office to serve his personal interests as opposed to the oath of his office? Is there any element of theft in Mkapa’s gains? Such are the issues we must address before giving in.

Looking at how closely related to Mkapa, the figure mentioned in Kiwira deals; suffice to bring Mkapa to justice without any cloud of fear that the law applicable to him is amiss.

Well, if there is no law under which Mkapa can be brought to book, it means: we’re satisfied with this anomaly under which the current president, his family and friends can plunder our country as pleased?

Given that the president is elected by the people to man their countries on their behalf (not to milk it), it is time we amend or re-enact our constitution so that it gives us a responsible and diligent chief executive. Shall we keep mum on this; we indeed will be as corrupt as Mkapa and all those that defend him.

Mvungi as a guru of law has proved to be inept and shallow when it comes to using his know-how. He did not propose any alternative as far as doing away from this impasse is concerned. Mark my words. Mvungi’s words echo his boss’- Chairman of NCCR-Mageuzi who was quoted saying Mkapa should be left alone.

Mvungi is not alone in this conspiracy. Even greedy religious leaders have stolen the thunder supporting Mkapa. But what they don’t understand is, what they are doing dresses them down. Those we thought are the princes of God abruptly turned to be the hyenas Jesus warned us of!

We however know. Many tampon-turned-religious leaders are not supporting Mkapa. In lieu, they‘re but supporting the contributions the likes of Mkapa make to their dubious personal projects conducted in the name of God.

Legally speaking, former president Mkapa is adjudgeable save that what’s needed is to be cautious of the issues with which to do so.

In a nutshell, Mkapa is indictable.
Source:Thisday February 2009.

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