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

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Chocolate Too Bitter? Swap Sugar for Mushrooms

US food technology company develops fermentation process using mushrooms to reduce bitterness in cocoa beans, believes it will cut sugar content in candy More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israeli
X
Carolyn Presutti
July 23, 2014 1:21 AM
The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israel

The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video NASA Focuses on Earth-Like Planets

For decades, looking for life elsewhere in the universe meant listening for signals that could be from distant civilizations. But recent breakthroughs in space technology refocused some of that effort toward finding planets that may harbor life, even in its primitive form. VOA’s George Putic reports on a recent panel discussion at NASA’s headquarters, in Washington.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.

AppleAndroid