Zambia's government has fired the
chairman of the country's Task Force on Corruption, Maxwell Nkole after he
filed an appeal against former President Frederick Chiluba's acquittal.
leaves some observers to wonder whether President Rupiah Banda is committed to
the fight against corruption.
Former President Chiluba was acquitted on all
counts of embezzling about 500 thousand dollars in state funds while he was
president of Zambia from 1991 to 2001.
Nkole said he
was fired because he spoke out against former President Chiluba's acquittal.
night I had an hour's interview on television, and I think I spoke very
strongly about the acquittal of Doctor Chiluba. And I also prayed that the
anti-corruption fight be intensified. And today I'm told they don't want to
continue with me," Nkole said.
Information Minister Ronnie Shikapwasha said the Banda government is still dedicated
to fighting corruption.
said Nkole's dismissal had nothing to do with his stance against the acquittal
of former President Chiluba.
issue of the acquittal of President Chiluba and indeed the course of law is a
process for anybody, including the Task Force to ahead and lodge an appeal, and
let the court hear the case. It's no problem," Shikapwasha said.
said Zambian President Rupiah Banda and former President Chiluba are working
least President Chiluba doesn't have the kind of bad relationship that he had
with (late President) Mwanawasa. He has a better and more accommodating
relationship with the current government," Nkole said.
could not confirm or deny Zambian news reports alleging that President Banda
might have influenced the court's decision to acquit former President Chiluba.
time will tell. For us, I gave instructions for our lawyers to take the matter
up to the higher court on appeal. And should the higher court actually overturn
the lower court's decision, then I think the truth will start coming out as to
whether there has been any political influence in the way the lower court
decided the case," Nkole said.
not too confident about the appeal, Nkole said it would take a very
unconventional decision and procedure to undo the lower court's ruling.
said he was not optimistic about the future of the fight against corruption in
government said they are still committed to the fight. I think what will be
different is the strategy which they want to employ how they want to intensify
the fight. Only time will tell," Nkole said.
He said he will spend his time supporting
anti-corruption groups in and outside Zambia and sharing his experiences.