In Zambia, the ministry of justice has reportedly served former President Frederick Chiluba with an order freezing some of his assets, including two of his houses and a bank account. This comes after a London high court recently found Chiluba guilty for stealing about 46 million dollars of public money. But the former president has said he would contest the freezing of his assets. He said his assets were acquired long before he became president. Meanwhile, Chiluba has filed a lawsuit against another opposition politician for defamation. Chiluba claims Hakainde Hichilema implied in a newspaper article that the former president was a thief.
Emmanuel Mwamba is the spokesman for Zambia’s former President Frederick Chiluba. From the capital, Lusaka, he told VOA more about the order to freeze the former president’s assets.
“The attorney general served us with the London judgment finally, and the judgment was accompanied by a freezing order seeking to seize Dr. Chiluba’s perceived assets. The judgment mentions two assets in Ndola, which he bought way before he became president. And the order also seeks to freeze his bank account at Barclays bank, which receives his monthly pensions, like a stipend which is part of his benefits,” he said.
Mwamba said the former president maintains that he does not recognize the judgment of the London High Court.
“You are aware that the freezing injunction was obtained in a London High Court, so it has no effect in Zambia at all. There is a process required to make it effective. So at the moment it remains academic until such a time that the Zambia High Court registers it,” Mwamba pointed out.
He said the former president would contest the government’s decision to freeze his assets.
“Remember, he has stated that matters of Zambia should have been dealt with in Zambia and the Zambian judiciary… he does not recognize the authority of the London High court because the London High Court is not an international court…so those are the arguments Dr. Chiluba is going to use to persuade the high court to set aside the judgment,” he said.
Mwamba also said the former president is not guilty, and he is ready to prove his innocence in court.
“You are aware that Dr. Chiluba has not been convicted by any competent court. Dr. Chiluba remains innocent in the eyes of the law and in the eyes of the members of the public. Dr. Chiluba recognizes that there are serious allegations against him and he hopes that the time will come when he will clear them,” Mwamba noted
He said the former president filed the defamation lawsuit against an opposition politician after the politician refused to recant what Mwamba said was derogatory language about Chiluba.
“For someone to make the defamatory remarks that were attributed to this political leader Hakainde Hichilema is unfortunate. We tried to persuade him to retract or apologize for his remarks, but the gentleman was adamant. So Dr. Chiluba has to seek the protection of the law,” he said.
Mwamba said the former president’s lawyers filed the law suit against Hakainda Hichilema on June fifth and are waiting on the Lusaka high court to set a trial date.