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Zambia's Main Opposition Leader Sues Malawian Govt


The leader of Zambia’s main opposition United Patriotic Front, Michael Sata has filed a suit against the Malawian government for allegedly throwing him out of the country. Malawi’s immigration authorities detained Sata for more than eight hours last month as he tried to enter the country before he was driven to the Zambian border. Sata said he decided to take legal action after the Malawian government failed to explain the rationale behind his deportation.

Ralph Kasamabara is the attorney for Michael Sata. From the commercial capital, Blantyre, he told VOA via telephone that Sata’s constitutional rights were violated.

“Basically, Honorable Sata is challenging the Malawian government for violation of his constitutional rights. His case is that he came to Malawi on the 15th of March; he landed at the Chileka International Airport that is in the city of Blantyre the main business district, and he was denied entry into Malawi, after he had completed all the immigration requirements,” he said.

Kasambara said the Immigration authorities failed to explain the reason behind Sata’s deportation.

“No reason was given to him, for refusing him entry into Malawi. He was taken then to detention lasting some couple of hours and then later on driven out to the border of Malawi and Zambia and then deported out of the country. Again no reason was given for his detention and then subsequent removal from Malawi” Kasamabara pointed out.

He said although the immigration authorities have the right to deport any wrongdoer, Sata’s case is different.

“They (immigration authorities) have a right, one can say to expel somebody from the Republic of Malawi if somebody is guilty of immigration offences or is indeed done something that would authorize the authorities in Malawi to deport somebody from Malawi. But in the case of Michael Sata, the case is different,” Kasambara noted.

He said there is agreement between Malawi and Zambia, which precludes citizens from both countries to acquire entry visas when visiting.

“There are bilateral arrangements between Malawi and Zambia. Malawians or Zambians don’t need visas to go into each other’s country. Now, in this case there was no requirement of visa from Mr. Sata. He was not prohibited in Malawi, so they couldn’t just refuse him entry into Malawi. But indeed even if they had chosen to refuse him entry, they were required to give him a reason for that refusal,” he said.

Kasambara insisted his client’s rights were violated.

“That’s a violation of his constitutional rights because the constitution say that if you are going to take any administrative action that is going to affect the somebody’s rights, then that somebody must be told of the reason. And the reason must be valid reasons,” he said.

Kasamabara said his client is challenging three main constitutional rights that he said were violated.

“The violations of rights that Mr. Sata is challenging against the Malawi government are three; one, that it is his right to fair administrative action was violated. Secondly, he has his right to freedom of movement violated, and lastly his right to carry on economic activities. All these three are constitutional rights are that recognized` by the constitution. And Mr. Sata, having been in the country, is entitled to compensation for the violation of his rights,” he noted.

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