The leader of Zambia’s main opposition Movement for Multi-party Democracy (MMD) is scheduled to appear in court Wednesday on charges of financial malfeasance.
The Government Joint Investigations Team charged Nevers Mumba of graft and abuse of authority when he was Zambia’s High Commissioner to Canada.
Mumba is accused of having misappropriated about $123,840 donated to the Zambian government by the Barrick Gold Corporation, a private company.
He is also accused of illegally awarding contracts estimated at $34,550 which prosecutors contend constitutes an abuse of office.
“We are very disappointed and surprised that the government can now start thinking about trumping [up] charges against Dr. Mumba,” said Chembe Nyangu, MMD deputy national secretary.
“This is politically motivated,” Nyangu said.
MMD supporters say the charges against Mumba are yet another attempt by the ruling Patriotic Front (PF) to eliminate any opposition.
“The idea of the arrest is to weaken the MDD,” Nyangu said. “In fact, if we don’t have a [leader] we wouldn’t be able to operate. So, they want to weaken everybody who is [challenging] the Patriotic Front.”
PF supporters, however, say the charges show the government is trying to carry through on its promise to root out corruption.
Nyangu warned that continued harassment and intimidation of opposition leaders could heighten tension and trigger violence.
“This should not continue, because it will bring a lot of problems in the country, because our people will rise and start fighting the government,” said Nyangu.
Nyangu says the party’s leaders will meet soon to decide what comes next.
“We have to sit as National Executive Committee to decide on what to do and how we can help our leader and discuss the matter with our members to see whether we are safe as a party,” he said.