I feel sorry for Labour Minister, Joyce Nonde Simukoko. Whichever expression I think of to highlight her self-entanglement with mess aptly suits! You can say she’s at sea or she’s at sixes and sevens or whatever else over the Horse Shoe Restaurant saga and it’s tailor-made for the occasion!
Among the many professionally suicidal statements she’s made over the matter, and it’s been quite a mouthful, I will comment on two. She’s been quoted as having said that it is not possible for the owners of the restaurant to practise racism because they are coloureds from Zambia’s Northern Province! I challenge my dearly beloved sister and my superior in the party, the Patriotic Front (PF) to urgently familiarise herself with the definition of racism as proferred in the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (ICERD), which Zambia has ratified and therefore to whose provisions we are bound, especially herself as “Government”!
This Agreement includes all manner of discrimination including utterances on the bases of tribalism, ethnicity, regionalism, race, color, creed and so on as forms of “racial discrimination”. It is fact, or isn’t it, that a coloured is a person of mixed race, which in itself is considered as a complete “entity”, a race on its own. For sure! A coloured is therefore as capable of practising racism as anybody else e.g. black on black (via tribalistic behaviours), according to this UN definition, which is a very useful one for the elimination of discrimination on the bases of the considerations highlighted above.
Secondly, and this should shock the minister herself, she seems totally unaware of the Constitutional powers under which the Human Rights Commission operates. Again, because of our membership of the UN, we are bound by its edict to create a national human rights institution, which bears watchdog powers over all human rights concerns including labor related rights, within the national jurisdiction of Zambia, i.e. within our boundaries, and which institution must operate INDEPENDENTLY of the executive, judiciary or legislative arms of government. It ought to be fully autonomous, meaning in this current case, it is an ultra vires whim for my sister, the minister, to even think of “reporting” the Commission to the President for issuing what she considers “contradictory” findings from those of her ministry on the the Horse Shoe saga. The HRC are within their rights and in fact must be applauded for issuing their alternative but researched findings and opinion on the matter!
(For the record, it’s not the first time that alternative reports from the HRC have helped the situation! Some years back, when Police were dithering, for so called lack of evidence, to arrest MMD trouble maker William Tekere Banda after he had allegedly sliced PF supporters’ buttocks in Chongwe with knives, the HRC did their own investigation and publicly presented evidence of his involvement, leading to his arrest and charge by the same police!)
The President being an experienced lawyer will probably laugh off the minister’s protest (if not express embarrassment) and advise her to calmly do what many Zambians are reputed to dislike doing: READ and be familiar with issues that will make her operate better in the public office she is privileged to occupy!
AUTHOR: SAMUEL KASANKHA