In Zambia, former President Frederick Chiluba’s wife has been charged with six counts of failing to account for properties and funds allegedly stolen by the former president during his ten-year rule. Regina Chiluba was reportedly picked up Monday from her residence in the capital Lusaka by armed officers. She was later taken to a nearby police station where she was charged and briefly detained. There was, however, a sudden twist to Mrs. Chiluba’s arrest when her husband joined her in the police cell, refusing to leave until police released Mrs. Chiluba on a self-recognizant bail.
Sources, however, said Mrs. Chiluba had earlier refused to cooperate with the police, saying her arrest was an abuse of the law because she was discharged on the same offence when the prosecution withdrew the case on August 24.
Emmanuel Mwamba is the spokesman for the Chiluba family. From the capital Lusaka, he tells reporter Peter Clottey that Mrs. Chiluba is being victimized by President Levy Mwanawasa’s administration.
“We were informed last week by the Task Force on Corruption that they wanted to re-arrest Mrs. Chiluba on the same charges that were withdrawn from court two weeks ago. Mrs. Chiluba expressed concern that this clearly is an abuse of the law because the task force on corruption is the one that willfully withdrew these charges against her, and then the court consequently discharged Mrs. Chiluba,” Mwamba said.
He explained what happened during the arrest of the former president’s wife by the Zambia anti-corruption task force.
“So, this morning around 9:30am, the Task Force on Corruption came with about two loads of police officers; they were about 25, surrounded the house and insisted that they had an arrest warrant and that they wanted to arrest Mrs. Chiluba for the similar charges that they had arrested her earlier which was withdrawn in court. We had waited for the return of her (Mrs. Chiluba’s) lawyer. So around 12 hours we drove to the police station where they affected this arrest,” he said.
Mwamba said similar charges that were earlier dropped by the public prosecutors were brought against the former president’s wife.
“They preferred six counts of failing to account for properties believed to have been stolen, or unlawfully obtained, contrary to the laws here in Zambia,” Mwamba pointed out.
He said the former president protested the re-arrest of his wife by joining her in the tiny cell in which she was being held and refused to leave until she was released on bail.
“In fact, there was drama at the police station because when they arrested and locked up Mrs. Chiluba, the former President Dr. Chiluba joined her in police cells and he remained in police cells, until Mrs. Chiluba was given police bond almost 50 minutes later. So, Dr. Chiluba and Mrs. Chiluba and other people were locked up in police cells until Mrs. Chiluba’s bond was given to her. They’ve given her a bond equivalent to $50,000.00 in her own recognizance, meaning that this money can only be paid if the bond is defaulted,” he said.
Mwamba said the former first lady believes she is being targeted by President Mwanawasa’s government because she is the wife of former President Chiluba.
“She feels that she literarily is being persecuted because she is married to Dr. Chiluba whom the state has been pursuing since 2002. She feels strongly victimized by the Mwanawasa administration, and like today, she really vented her anger. Many people of course have been stating that the biggest beneficiary, if there were any acts of corruption, was the Mwanawasa administration and the MMD (ruling Movement for Multi-party Democracy). To begin to pursue people like Mrs. Chiluba is futile if you do not pursue the very people that probably benefited from this process,” he said.