“I have a duty to help whenever possible”. This was Edward Zammit Lewis’ latest lame excuse for using his power to coerce desperate constituents to sell him their votes. He was helping nobody – except himself.
We know exactly what he feels for his constituents – disdain, derision and contempt. Their only worth, in Zammit Lewis’ eyes, is their vote which they would rather use against him but are kept from doing so by fear of retaliation. Zammit Lewis, who secured them a job through his close friend, Yorgen Fenech, also has the power to terminate it. He wields control over his constituents who are coerced to trade their vote and soul for his favours.
Zammit Lewis is caught with his pants down again. This time he was pressuring Yorgen Fenech to provide employment for his selected constituents. The selection criterion was not merit, competence or diligence. Zammit Lewis selected them based on one question: “Will you vote for me?”. This was shameless vote-buying.
Zammit Lewis had been asking Fenech for jobs since 2014. It didn’t stop until Fenech’s jailing on suspicion of murdering Daphne Caruana Galizia. Zammit Lewis’ grovelling to the tycoon is the source of hilarity and revulsion.
His pleading messages, “I miss you so much” and “speak to me I’m getting worried”, reveal the revolting boot-licking the minister resorted to. Immune to shame, Zammit Lewis now defends himself with more humiliating lies.
“I have always acted with integrity and honesty,” he declared. Yet this is the same person who lied barefacedly – “There was no relationship – no personal, no commercial, nothing”. He denied any relationship with Yorgen Fenech – only for hundreds of messages, shared dinners, and a lavish stay at Evian-les-Bains Hilton in the Alps to be exposed.
This was the man who claimed he paid for that Alpine luxury holiday but failed to provide any evidence of payment. This was the man who maintained communication with Yorgen Fenech even while under investigation for money laundering. Right up to Fenech’s arrest, Zammit Lewis was fawning all over him.
“My family have never sought media, glory and political prominence in order to progress,” Zammit Lewis said in his defence. Who is he attacking? Is he referring to Owen Bonnici’s partner or Silvio Schembri’s wife? Or Robert Abela’s?
This is an unsubtle message to his parliamentary colleagues – I know too much about you. We’re all in the same boat. This is the threat of a desperate man, hanging precariously off the precipice with his fingernails.
He knows he’s banked enough ill will among his parliamentary colleagues to sink a political career a dozen times. He called them “kids and posers” with “zero-political competence”. “They never wanted me,” he lamented. His insults are unlikely to have endeared him to his colleagues.
The only thing stopping them from dumping him is that his obscene transgressions make their own misdeeds seem like children’s pranks. His very survival guarantees their own.
His constituents may not be so kind. Having denounced them as “ignorant Labour voters (Ġaħan)” who just want someone who does them favours, Zammit Lewis was engaged in doing just that.
“I intend to continue to do so for one reason only,” he said. And proceeded to give three. “Because I love the Labour Party too much”, “because I believe in people’s politics” and because “I believe the Labour Party is the only option”. Of course, this is utter nonsense.
Zammit Lewis only loves himself. If he loved the Labour Party, he would realise he’s outstayed his welcome – nobody wants him there. He’s a massive embarrassment. If he loved his Party he would submit a polite letter of resignation and disappear. He would recognise the damage he regularly inflicts on his Party and country.
Malta now has the dishonour of having as its justice minister, the grovelling friend of the man accused of murdering his Party’s fiercest critic. Malta’s justice minister was still extorting favours for his constituents from the alleged murderer right up to his arrest.
Zammit Lewis will never go quietly. He has no shame. He has no loyalty except to his blind ambition and obsession for power. And so “Next Thursday, I will continue to meet you in my office in B’Kara to continue to be of assistance,” he announced cheerfully.
Pleading for jobs for constituents, according to him, is “normal practice among politicians”. What does “normal” even mean? It might be commonplace or frequent – but it remains shamefully wrong on all levels.
First, Yorgen Fenech’s offer of employment opportunities came with strings attached. It was a quid pro quo. Fenech expected remuneration. We all know how Fenech was repaid – in millions from our taxes.
Far worse, Zammit Lewis was abusing his power and influence to coerce and exploit constituents. His actions are nothing but political favouritism, cronyism and clientelism. His abusive transactions benefit nobody but himself.
His outright clientelism is a mechanism for controlling his constituents, undermining democracy and inhibiting political freedom. It is pure domination in which the powerful patron benefits through the subordination of the poor voter. Zammit Lewis’ actions had one objective – to hold on to power far longer than he otherwise would.
Zammit Lewis knows this is wrong. He recognises it is exploitative abuse of the most vulnerable, for his own gain. Yet he deceitfully frames his feudal practice as an altruistic service for his people, driven by his love for his Party.
The minister of the “progressive” movement propagates an anti-democratic system from antiquity – patronage. The patrician master bestows gifts, the sportula, on the disenfranchised poor plebeians. In return, irrespective of their views, they applaud their patron.
Clientelia and patrocinium are resurrected from antiquity by the justice minister of a 21st century EU nation. The Workers’ Party and its leader watch proudly as Zammit Lewis strips the worker of his dignity in order to cling on to power.
Zammit Lewis, your days are numbered. Jump before you’re pushed.