Monday, March 05, 2007

Zambia and the rule of law...

As a fellow investor in the tourism industry and in rural development, and as a corporate member of Business Action for Africa, an organization based in London and established under the Commission for Africa which lobbied successfully for major debt write-offs to Zambia by our G8 Group of Nations, the deportation on Saturday of Mr Ross Michelson is an extremely serious departure from the rule of law and from common decency. This man has been abused by the Zambian Government: his hunting lease removed without reason and without due process, accused of crimes for which he has not been charged or found guilty in a court of law, and while out of the country marketing Zambia, deported under emergency powers still in force from the Chiluba regime – all of this instigated by a rival business group having undue political influence within the tourism sector and who slaver after his concessions and his game ranch. And then Mr Michelson, when allowed back in to the country by the Attorney-General - the Department of Immigration at Lusaka airport allowing him ingress, is, in defiance of the judiciary, arrested and bundled onto a plane for another country.

Michelson’s and my lawyer, Wynter Kabimba, has courageously spoken out against this infringement of the African Charter of Human and People’s rights, of Michelson’s rights, of this abusive treatment of investors. For there have been other deportations of bona fide investors: an Italian farmer in Kabwe, a Dane and how many others harried out under emergency powers. But of all things – for after all we are but men, it is the contempt of the Ministry of Home Affairs for the judiciary which is the most serious threat to our fledgling democracy. ‘This is not a democracy like America or Britain,’ thundered the Minister of Tourism, Environment and Natural Resources to me the other day. Well no, fine.

It is time for the British High Commissioner to make it absolutely clear that such treatment of one of its citizen investors is totally unacceptable, and to talk less of ending protectionism in Europe and more of the necessity for the Zambian Government to adhere to western liberal democratic standards. And our other mother countries: Ireland, Denmark, Italy, France, Germany, Sweden, Norway, America, Canada, to name but a few, need to take note and resist the fashionable sycophancy. We are in the trenches here.

I.P.A. Manning
5 March 07

No comments: