Zambian president levy Mwanawasa has reportedly said that his government will not force ex-President Frederick Chiluba to appear in court to defend himself over graft charges. But he also predicts that if Chiluba is found guilty in the case by a London high court, the former president would go bankrupt. Mwanawasa’s pronouncement has attracted sharp criticism from Chiluba supporters, who are accusing Mwanawasa of witch hunting
Emmanuel Mwamba is the spokesman for Zambia’s former President Frederick Chiluba. He spoke with VOA English to Africa reporter Peter Clottey about Mwanawasa’s pronouncement.
“President Mwanawasa is simply stating the outcome of the case in the event that Dr. Chiluba does not defend himself. President Mwanawasa is stating that they will obtain a default judgment and then they will use it against Dr. Chiluba. Dr. Chiluba insists that these are politics, its juts politicking, there is no effect whatsoever of a foreign court, we are selling away our national sovereignty. We are giving away our independence and the independence of our judiciary; we are giving away its autonomy. We should have given it an opportunity to learn from this important case. Because it’s the first time that an African president is being tried for similar matters like Dr. Chiluba is. So the Zambia judiciary could have benefited from this case. But now that opportunity has been deprived because this matter has been taken before a foreign court,” Mwamba said.
He says former President Chiluba does not recognize the authority of the London high court.
“Dr. Chiluba insists that this is a UK court; it’s a foreign court; it’s a court of foreign jurisdiction. He has not committed any crimes on humanity; he has not committed any war crimes and wonders why the Zambian government has taken him to a foreign court. There is no proper justification. This is an ordinary civil suit to attempt to recover money from him. It should have been done in Lusaka and he insists that he will ignore that order. And he will make Zambia and the government of President Mwanawasa difficult to attempt to enforce it. Because there is a standing judiciary with a proper constitution and you just can come and enforce foreign outcomes,” he noted.
Mwamba quotes former President Chiluba as saying that graft charges against him are politically motivated.
“He insists these matters are political. Remember that they started with an amount that Dr. Chiluba had stolen $ three billion. They scaled down a year later to 300 million dollars. Then they said he had stolen 40 million dollars. Now they go all the way to the United Kingdom and now they are claiming two point two million dollars. And appearing in Lusaka for cases amounting to 500 thousand dollars, he insists it is a political case,” he said.
Mwamba disagrees with the Mwanawasa government’s approach to recover monies from the former president.
“Look at the monies they are spending to pursue a two point two million dollars. It vindicates what Dr. Chiluba has been saying. Because they have told the world that this man has stolen so much, they’ve said he has stolen billions and they will need to recover assets from him worth so much. But their own audit show $2.2million against Dr. Chiluba,” he said.
Let us know what you think of this report and other stories on our website. Send your views to AFRICA@VOANEWS.COM, and include your phone number. Or, call us here in Washington, DC at (202) 205-9942. After you hear the VOA identification, press 30 to leave a message. We want to hear what you have to say!