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Former Zambian President Chiluba Charged With Sixty Counts Of Theft - 2003-02-24

Former Zambian president Frederick Chiluba was charged Monday with 60 counts of “theft by a public servant.”. He has since been released on a hundred thousand dollars bail. The offenses Mr. Chiluba is charged with range from undervaluing the price of Zambia's minerals for personal gain and the loss of over $20 million to an arms dealer.

The former Zambian leader is also believed to have used for personal reasons the account of the Zambia Intelligence Security Service. The charges come days after the Supreme Court upheld the decision last year by parliament to lift Mr. Chiluba's immunity. Parliament made the decision following revelations to the house by President Levy Mwanawasa that Mr. Chiluba's administration mismanaged the economy and financial resources of the country. But Mr. Chiluba went to court claiming that parliament erred in law by withdrawing his immunity without giving him a chance to defend himself. Mr. Chiluba, who has since been released on bail, is expected to be in court on the third of March.

The administration of President Mwanawasa has set up a task force to probe office abuse and economic mismanagement under the previous government of Mr. Chiluba. This is in the context of Mr. Mwanawasa program of zero tolerance against corruption. Mr. Chiluba was in office for two five year terms which came to an end at the end of 2001. He came into power on the platform of economic liberalization and respect for human rights. During his administration, Mr. Chiluba privatized almost all state companies, which numbered over 200. But the handling of the privatization program was heavily criticized for throwing people out of employment and its alleged lack of transparency.