It is evident Justice Minister Edward Zammit Lewis will not budge. Like other colleagues, past and present, his thirst for power, in the widest sense of the word, is absolute.

Thus, if governance and the rule of law are to reign supreme and the culture of impunity completely eradicated in the shortest time possible, Prime Minister Robert Abela has only one option.

He should show Zammit Lewis the door and slam it firmly behind him if the minister does not opt to do a Ġaħan, the Maltese folklore character he is so fond of, and walk out dragging the door behind him.

That would be wishful thinking though, because Abela continues to defend those around him who directly or indirectly, by omission or by commission, nurtured a situation that wreaked havoc to the country’s reputation on the international plane.

Abela fails or refuses to realise that most of those around him are an albatross around his neck.

In Zammit Lewis’s case, he should bear in mind that, as justice minister, he has a leading role to play in spearheading the necessary reforms to put the administration and the country back on an even keel soonest. A justice minister should be beyond reproach.

Zammit Lewis insists he merely communicated with Yorgen Fenech in a friendly manner, implying there was nothing wrong in it.

Times of Malta reported late last year the two had exchanged about 700 text messages between January and October 2019. A month later, Fenech, who had already been outed as the owner of secret company 17 Black, was charged with complicity in Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder.

As a government member on the parliamentary committee for standards in public life, Zammit Lewis appeared keen not to nail Labour MP Rosianne Cutajar when the standards commissioner found she had breached parliamentary ethics in a multi-million-euro property deal involving his ‘friend’, Fenech.

Just days ago, Times of Malta revealed exchanges Zammit Lewis sent to Fenech in January 2019, mocking calls by then opposition leader Simon Busuttil for an inquiry into 17 Black and the Panama Papers.

Abela continues to defend those around him who directly or indirectly, by omission or by commission, nurtured a situation that wreaked havoc to the country’s reputation

The minister, a backbencher at the time, even asked Fenech if he was “OK’ when sending him a link to an online news report of a press conference he had addressed about the matter.

When confronted, Zammit Lewis replied: “We take directions from the party”. Surely the party did not instruct him to consult Fenech. Or did it?

That question assumes more relevance in view of what the inquiry board says about “another level of organised crime involving people that are not professional criminals, are involved in totally licit activities, in business, in public administration and in politics but who decide to act together to make a profit in an illicit or illegal manner”.

The inquiry distinguishes between illicit and illegal. The term illegal incorporates breach of the law and criminal acts.

An illicit act extends to behaving badly or in an unacceptable manner but would not necessarily amount to an illegality.

The board lists examples: bad public administration, bad governance, deception, conduct unbecoming and behaviour that is wrong, improper, abusive, oppressive, unethical, immoral and damaging.

Zammit Lewis may try to play the fool but even Ġaħan would have understood what the board of inquiry is saying. Hopefully, Abela will too and show Zammit Lewis the door.

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