Wednesday, 21 December 2016

The Horse Shoe's 'Steaky' Mess Continues

Since the Horse Shoe Steakhouse scandal broke late November, I have been holding my reservations on commenting about it. This is one that I had decided not to put out a public statement because I did not know the full facts. Mika Mwambazi accused the owners of being racist after she claims to have witnessed an employee being abused. She then went on social media to share her disgust accompanied by the hashtag #ShutDownHorseShoe. Well the latest on this is that the Minister of Labour Joyce Simukoko has stated that there is no racism at the Horse Shoe Restaurant and that Mika Mwambazi should be arrested. I have an issue with both statements.

According to the report made by Lusaka Times, the minister said that investigations revealed that there was no racism at the Horse Shoe Restaurant. Wait a minute, the term investigation means a formal or systematic examination or research according to the Oxford dictionary. However, the information released by the press is that many teams from the Ministry of Labour were sent to the affected area to investigate the matter. It would have been great to know what constituted the investigation. Did they talk to the staff? Did they interview the owner? Did they inquire with the people who complained on social media? The people who signed the Shut Down Horse Shoe petition? Did they go with hidden camera? Did they interrogate Mika Mwambazi? Did they use a polygraph test? How did they go about this investigation? Getting to understand how the investigation was under taken would help the public appreciate the conclusion that was arrived at that there was no racism. By the way it is not like racism is packaged in a bottle that can be found on a shelf.

Mrs. Simukuko also stated that racism is as bad as tribalism as it can breed into war. Now even though I recognise the gravity of racism, the minister’s statement was out of context and unnecessary. I do not see any relation between the Horse Shoe incident and how a war could come into the picture. It is an issue of discrimination at most which must be dealt with. The minister took time to meet with the Horse Shoe management and the workers, but it does not mention her meeting Mika Mwambazi. If she did meet her I would have liked to know what was discussed. However, it seems unlikely they met because the minister has ordered her arrest.

I am not a legal expert and I would like my readers to educate me on this one. What right does a minister have to demand the arrest of a citizen? Shouldn’t that be the jurisdiction of the police or the courts? If a minister can command the arrest of someone who genuinely believed that an injustice was being done, what assurances are being given that another person who complains does not risk being jailed. Mika may not have used the right channels to address this matter yet it does not by any means warrant the accusation of her alarming the nation. It was probably only people on social media who were aware of it. I am certain my uncle in Nega Nega did not hear of this.

This case has a lot of learning points. Arguably the most important of them all is to have evidence to back up any claims or accusations you make. Imagine if Mika had used the video camera on her phone to film the alleged worker being abused. This case would have been closed a long time ago. We have Facebook Live so “racism” can be filmed live now. Secondly, I will consider writing to Santa to give the management of Horse Shoe all the seasons of Scandal. They need to learn a thing or two from Olivia Pope on how to handle stuff. This situation should never have reached the levels that it did. This was an utter mess.

How do you think this issue should have been handled?