Tembo charged with defamation of Lungu, in court tomorrow

By Staff Reporter

 

OPPOSITION Patriots for Economic Progress (PeP) leader Sean Tembo who was arrested by police over the weekend has been charged with the defamation of President Edgar Lungu.

 

Acting police spokesperson Danny Mwale in a brief statement said Tembo would remain in police custody until tomorrow when is expected to appear in court.

Tembo last week said President Lungu was possibly suffering from a mental illness, which might be the primary cause of his various irrational national decisions in the recent past.

Commenting on the various concerns raised by citizens over his earlier statement, Tembo said mental illness was just like any other illness and must not be stigmatized.

“As a matter of fact, the national prevalence of mental illness in Zambia is currently about 4% of the general population and a whopping 13% of the adult male population. It is on this basis that the framers of the Republican Constitution took into account the possibility that a person elected to the position of Republican President might suffer a mental illness during their tenure”, he said.

He said that accordingly, article 107 of the Republican Constitution provides guidance on the procedures that must be followed if the Head of State is suspected of suffering from a debilitating mental illness.

Tembo said his party had been closely monitoring the quality of official decisions that have been made by President Lungu, ever since he took office in February of 2015.

He said that PeP had also been consistently pointing out any poor decisions made by the President, which they usually attribute to incompetence.

Tembo said, however in the recent past, the party leadership had noted certain poor decisions made by President Lungu which were too grave to be attributed to incompetence alone, but actually bordered on mental illness or incapacity.

He said a case in point is the decision by President Lungu to purchase a brand-new Gulfstream G650 private jet for himself using approximately K900m of tax-payers money, and yet he is failing to pay salaries for his employees in the civil service, local government and parastatal bodies.

And speaking when the Alliance gave solidarity to Tembo this morning at Lusaka Central Police where a warn and caution was recorded, chairperson Charles Milupi lamented the detention of Tembo without any charge for two days.

And GEARS executive director McDonald Chipenzi has asked the Chief Justice to constitute a medical board as provided for by law to ascertain Tembo’s alleged defamatory statement against President Lungu.

Chipenzi said that police should not have arrested Tembo but allow the Chief Justice to constitute a medical board to ascertain the truth of Tembo’s Facebook statement.

“If it is the defamation of the President, the Chief Justice must be allowed to constitute a medical board as provided for by law to ascertain the truth because the evidence of his allegations can only be after an inquiry. Anything else outside the inquiry or tribunal or medical board as provided for in Article 107 of the Constitution is mere political talk which is and cannot be criminalized,” Chipenzi stated.

He stated that Tembo’s arrest was evidence of shrinking civic and political space and “a testament of how police actions do not take the provisions of the Constitution as contained in Article 193, that of respect and upholding citizens’ human rights” and “clear abuse of the archaic defamation clause in our laws”.

And opposition UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema said Zambia needed to respect the rule of law.

Other Opposition Alliance leaders that were present at the police station to give Tembo solidarity were NDC consultant Chishimba Kambwili and NAREP president Elias Chipimo.