Of JB, asylum seeking and treason arrest

COMMENTARY:

Donchi Kubeba! President Sata shakes hands with Malawi VP Banda

Two reports have freely been circulating on the Internet and social forums in the last couple of days namely that State Vice President, Right Honourable Joyce Banda, is seeking asylum in Zambia; and Joyce Banda would be arrested for treason by Malawian authorities for attending celebrations marking the independence of the Republic of Zambia on October 24, 2011.

Background 

It is true that Mrs. Banda travelled to Zambia to attend that country’s independence celebrations. This was never a secret. She travelled to that country in response to an invitation that was made available to her by President Michael Chilufya Sata on behalf of the Zambian Government.

In exercise of its discretion and liberties, the Republic of Zambia came up with a list of people it desired to grace its independence celebrations with their presence.

Mrs. Banda happened to be among those that happened to be on the list. The government of that country is able to give reasons that determined its choice of the people to attend the celebrations.

It must be explained that Zambia is a sovereign state. Its government was democratically constituted. Therefore, it has powers, liberties and privileges available to any country to invite anyone it desires to cross its borders.

Mrs. Banda is a full citizen of Malawi. As a citizen, she is entitled to all the privileges open to all Malawian citizens. As a citizen, she is entitled to be invited by anybody or any organization or any country to attend or participate in any function as long as no law is violated in so doing.

In the same vein, Mrs. Banda is at liberty to receive invitations from anybody, any organization or any country, and she is free to respond favourably or otherwise as long as she is not violating any law.

In inviting Mrs. Banda, the Zambian government did not violate any known law. And by favourably responding to that invitation, Mrs. Banda did not profane any known statute.

Asylum 

To seek asylum suggests that someone is seeking refuge in a different place, as a last resort, because there is a problem that threatens his/her rights in his/her original place. Yes, Malawi is beset by a lot of problems, most of which are self-inflicted.

But these problems are not affecting Mrs. Banda alone. More but more seriously, they are affecting the common man and woman in the village.

The solution to these problems as far as Mrs. Banda is concerned is not to run away, but to provide the kind of leadership that is able to take responsibility; do self-appraisal and soul-searching; and make amends and mobilize our available energies so that together we are able to emancipate the country.

Mrs. Banda is not the kind of leader that chickens from challenges. As she has demonstrated so many times, she is the type of leader with a spine that is able to remain standing even at the centre of a whirlwind of chaos that Malawi finds itself and continue to seek answers for them.

Treason 

Mrs. Joyce Banda cannot be arrested for treason because she has not committed that offence. In Malawi, there is no law that prevents people from travelling or responding to invitations from foreign governments.

If making such trips were treasonous, then the Head of State Professor Bingu wa Mutharika and First Lady Callista Mutharika would have been the first to be nicked for the offence. But the question would obviously have been: treason against whom? It is the same question that should be posed in the case of Mrs. Banda.

It should be noted that this was not the first foreign invitation to which Mrs. Banda has responded. It is therefore taxing to logic that a trip to Zambia should be treasonous.

By the way, is it not only last week when statements were made public that relations between Malawi and Zambia were warm and good? Then why should a trip to a good neighbour be treasonous?

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