The chairman of Transparency International (TI) in Zambia told VOA the decision by the government not to appeal the ruling clearing former President Frederick Chiluba of corruption was based on political considerations.
Reuben Lifuka said his anti-graft organization would continue putting more pressure on the government by demanding that President Rupiah Banda’s administration seek to recover the funds allegedly stolen by the former president.
“We find it amazing that government has quickly stated that they are not going to appeal, when the judgment’s validity was not tested in this particular case,” he said.
Zambia’s High Court recently ruled that the country’s laws did not allow the enforcement of judgments made in other countries. This came after a British judge ruled in 2007 that former President Chiluba pay $58-million as compensation for funds stolen while he was leader of Zambia from 1991-2001.
Mr. Chiluba denies the corruption charges and has rejected the British judge’s ruling as without merit.
Supporters of the former president say the charges were politically motivated after his fall-out with successor, the late President Levy Mwanawasa, who died in 2008.
Observers say the government’s decision not to appeal the court’s ruling is an attempt to appease the supporters of the former leader ahead of next year’s general election.
Analysts say former President Chiluba is still popular adding that the decision not to appeal the ruling could boost the chances of incumbent President Banda in the general election.
TI’s Chairman Lifuka said the government’s decision was not based on sound legal reasons.
“Every indication does show that there is more of a political reason than legal because it started with the acquittal of the former president in the court of law for criminal offenses of a similar nature, as decided upon by the London High Court. We saw the dismantling, or disbanding, of the task force. And, the task force activities have been swallowed up by the anti-corruption commission. And now, this is the latest setback that we have seen,” Lifuka said.
Meanwhile, the United States has questioned the Zambian government’s commitment to rooting out corruption.