News / Africa

Former Zambian President Faces Corruption Trial

Zambia's former President Rupiah Banda (file photo).
Zambia's former President Rupiah Banda (file photo).
Anita Powell
Zambia’s former president is set to face trial Wednesday for allegedly stealing millions of dollars from the nation while he was in office.  The trial is the latest development in the current president’s anti-corruption drive, and anti-graft officials say it is the most important symbolic step in that mission. 

Zambian President Michael Sata vowed to wipe out corruption when he ran for office and won the 2011 election in the copper-rich nation.

To that end, he has launched a slew of probes into business deals worth tens of millions of dollars. Sata, an economist who has described himself as being "allergic to corruption," even fired his top aide last year after an envelope containing a bribe, allegedly meant for the aide, accidentally landed on the president’s desk. 

But perhaps the most striking example of his mission is the upcoming trial of former president Rupiah Banda.  The National Assembly in March revoked Banda’s legal immunity from prosecution. He was arrested last week.

Banda is accused of stealing about $11 million through an oil contract with the Nigerian government and having that money routed to his son’s account.  He is also accused of using some of those funds for his failed re-election campaign.

The nation’s attorney general, Mumba Malila, says the prosecution has a good case.

"Our investigation has revealed that this was an oil deal with a Nigerian company in which he was involved and in which he didn’t perform quite to expectations as head of state," said Malila. "And so, we want to see if the court can make some guidance on it.  We think, as [head of] government, that he may very well have abused his office contrary to the provisions of the Anti-Corruption act."

Banda has denied all the charges, and his attorney has said the prosecution is politically motivated.

Goodwell Lungu, the director of Zambia’s branch of the anti-graft watchdog, Transparency International, says the upcoming trial sets an important precedent for Zambian officials.

Lungu wouldn’t discuss the merits of the case, but said he expects the court proceedings to be fair.

"This trial is a very important trial because it projects that in terms of the rule of law, no one is above the rule of law in our country and that even himself, [President] Sata, if he perhaps ends up misconducting himself, the same thing might be able to apply to him.  And we feel as Zambians that it’s only fair that our leaders are supposed to, at one time or another, be held to account for all their actions as well as their omissions that they could have undertaken while holding public office," said Lungu.

In a way, though, that precedent has already been set: Banda has avoided the dubious honor of being the first Zambian president to be tried for corruption.  That president was his predecessor, ex-president Frederick Chiluba, who was acquitted in 2009 on charges that he embezzled half a million dollars during his 11-year presidency.

Banda’s administration had refused to appeal his acquittal, earning the ire of his critics. 

The anti-corruption campaign has seen Zambia slightly improve its corruption score according to Transparency International’s annual corruption perceptions index.

But Lungu says the current administration is not above suspicion, either.

“We’d like Zambians to remain calm and let the due process of the law take its course," said Lungu. "And we’d also like to send a caution to the current PF regime in Zambia that the same law that is being able to be used to apply to the former head of state might end up catching up with them if at all their conduct might not be above our board.”

The Banda trial begins Wednesday.

You May Like

Multimedia Obama, Modi Announce Breakthrough on Nuclear Deal

update Deal resolves differences over liability of suppliers to India in event of a nuclear accident, U.S. demands on tracking whereabouts of material supplied to country More

WHO's Late Efforts in Tackling Ebola Highlight Need for Reform

Health experts debate measures to reform agency’s response to global public health emergencies in special one-day session on deadly outbreak More

One Tumultuous Year in Power for CAR's President

As sectarian violence raged across Central African Republic, interim President Catherine Samba-Panza has Herculean task: to end civil war and put country back on right track More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youthi
X
Julie Taboh
January 23, 2015 11:08 PM
Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.
Video

Video US Marching Bands Grow Into a Show of Their Own

The 2014 Super Bowl halftime show was the most-watched in history - attracting an estimated 115 million viewers. That event featured pop star Bruno Mars. But the halftime show tradition started with marching bands, which still dominate the entertainment at U.S. high school and college American football games. But as Enming Liu reports in this story narrated by Adrianna Zhang, marching bands have grown into a show of their own.
Video

Video Secular, Religious Kurds Face Off in Southeast Turkey

Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast has been rocked by violence between religious and secular Kurds. Dorian Jones reports on the reasons behind the stand-off from the region's main city of Diyarbakir, which suffered the bloodiest fighting.
Video

Video Kenya: Misuse of Antibiotics Leading to Resistance by Immune System

In Kenya, the rise of drug resistant bacteria could reverse the gains made by medical science over diseases that were once treatable. Kenyans could be at risk of fatalities as a result if the power in antibiotics is not preserved. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story from Nairobi.
Video

Video Solar-Powered Plane Getting Ready to Circumnavigate Globe

Pilots of the solar plane that already set records flying without a drop of fuel are close to making their first attempt to fly the craft around the globe. They plan to do it in 25 flying days over a five month period. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video How Experts Decide Ethiopia Has the Best Coffee

Ethiopia’s coffee has been ranked as the best in the world by an international group of coffee connoisseurs. Not surprisingly, coffee is a top export for the country. But at home it is a source of pride. Marthe van der Wolf in Addis Ababa decided to find out what makes the bean and brew so special and how experts make their determinations.
Video

Video Yazidi Refugees at Center of Political Fight Between Turkey, Kurds

The treatment of thousands of Yazidis refugees who fled to Turkey to escape attacks by Islamic State militants has become the center of a dispute between the Turkish government and the country's pro-Kurdish movement. VOA's Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video World’s Richest 1% Forecast to Own More Than Half of Global Wealth

The combined wealth of the world's richest 1 percent will overtake that of the remaining 99 percent at some point in 2016, according to the anti-poverty charity Oxfam. Campaigners are demanding that policymakers take action to address the widening gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid