News / Africa

Zambian Ex-Leader Seeks Clarification After Summons

Zambia's former president, Rupiah Banda, (File photo).
Zambia's former president, Rupiah Banda, (File photo).
Peter Clottey
An attorney says Zambia’s former president Rupiah Banda is seeking clarification from the government before deciding whether to appear before anti-graft investigators Monday.

Attorney Sakwiba Sikota says Zambia President Michael Sata's government is being vindictive by persecuting the former leader as part of an effort to weaken opposition parties by harassing and intimidating their leaders.

The government rejects Sikota's claims, saying the Banda summons is part of a crusading effort to root out graft in Zambia.

Sikota says there is a contradiction between the summons letter from the country's anti-graft body and a statement to Zambia's parliament by Justice Minister Wynter Kabimba.

Sikota says, “In their letter they said they want to invite (Banda) for interviews, in other words for purposes of investigation.  This seems to be quite different and in contradiction with what the minister of justice said in the house."  But the lawyer says the justice minister said, "... they had finished their investigation and that there were no further investigations to be done.”

The attorney says he needs to know why his client is being summoned.
“Once we’ve got that clarification that is when we will be able to make that call [for Banda],” continued Sikota, “if it is for purposes of arrest then they should let us know.  If it is for purposes of investigation then they are contradicting the minister of justice.”

Parliament last week lifted Banda’s immunity from criminal prosecution after the government urged the legislature to do so, claiming it will enable officials to investigate cases of corruption during the former president’s rule.  The removal of the immunity allows the government to prosecute Banda for financial malfeasance he is alleged to have committed from 2008 to 2011.

Supporters of the government say if the former president has nothing to hide, he should allow the investigation to continue, since he would have nothing to fear.
But Sikota says by arguing there are corruption cases to be investigated, the government is implying Banda is guilty and he has to now prove his innocence.  

“In a system where there isn’t any vindictiveness, where people are not driven by hate that argument possibly could be made.  But where you have a situation where there is already prejudgment made ... it is clear that what you have is a persecution and not a prosecution,” said Sikota.

“If you are professing that you are a government driven by the rule of law, good governance and fighting corruption, you will not corrupt the law by going against it.  Our argument is that the process, which was used was tainted,” said Sikota.
Meanwhile, Mr. Banda says he has been deeply touched by the support he has been receiving.

“I watched the immunity debate on television in the company of my family and young colleagues. I could not help but admire and pricelessly appreciate the manner in which the opposition members of parliament debated. I also received numerous phone calls of solidarity. I can give back nothing but my gratitude for the gesture,” said Banda.

The former president has appealed to Zambians to remain calm after his immunity was lifted.

You May Like

Pundits Split Over Long-Term US Role in Afghanistan

Security pact remains condition for American presence beyond 2014; deadline criticized More

US Eyes Islamic State Threat

Officials warn that IS could pose a threat to US homeland More

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Moscow says Russian troops crossed into Ukrainian territory by mistake More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocksi
X
George Putic
August 25, 2014 4:00 PM
How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Ukrainian officials say they have captured Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory -- the latest accusation of Moscow's involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the Ukrainian side of the battle, where soldiers are convinced of Russia's role.
Video

Video Rubber May Soon Come From Dandelions

Synthetic rubber has been around for more than a century, but quality tires for cars, trucks and aircraft still need up to 40 percent or more natural rubber content. As the source of natural rubber, the rubber tree, is prone to disease and can be affected by bad weather. So scientists are looking for replacements. And as VOA’s George Putic reports, they may have found one in a ubiquitous weed.
Video

Video Jewish Life in Argentina Reflected in Yiddish Tango

Jewish people from across Europe and Russia have been immigrating to Argentina for hundreds of years. They brought with them dance music that was eventually mixed with Argentine tango. The result is Yiddish tango -- a fusion of melodies and cultural experiences that is still evolving today. Elizabeth Lee reports on how one band is bringing Yiddish tango to Los Angeles.
Video

Video Peace Returns to Ferguson as Community Tries to Heal

Thousands of people nationwide are expected to attend funeral services Monday in the U.S. Midwestern city of St. Louis, Missouri, for Michael Brown, the unarmed African-American teenager who was fatally shot by a white police officer August 9 in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson. The shooting touched off days of violent demonstrations there, resulting in more than 100 arrests. VOA's Chris Simkins reports from Ferguson where the community is trying to move on after weeks of racial tension.
Video

Video Meeting in Minsk May Hinge on Putin Story

The presidents of Russia and Ukraine are expected to meet face-to-face Tuesday in Minsk, along with European leaders, for talks on the situation in Ukraine. Political analysts say the much welcomed dialogue could help bring an end to months of deadly clashes between pro-Russia separatists and Ukrainian forces in the country's southeast. But much depends on the actions of one man, Russian President Vladimir Putin. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Artists Shun Russia's Profanity Law

Russia in July enacted a law threatening fines for publicly displayed profanity in media, films, literature, music and theater. The restriction, the toughest since the Soviet era, aims to protect the Russian language and culture and has been welcomed by those who say cursing is getting out of control. But many artists reject the move as a patronizing and ineffective act of censorship in line with a string of conservative morality laws. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video British Fighters on Frontline of ISIS Information War

Security services are racing to identify the Islamic State militant who beheaded U.S. journalist James Foley in Syria. The murderer spoke English on camera with a British accent. It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for the Islamic State, also called ISIL or ISIS, alongside thousands of other foreign jihadists. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from the center of the investigation in London.

AppleAndroid