The spokesman for Zambia’s Ex-President Frederick Chiluba has denied the former leader flouted the constitution after endorsing incumbent President Rupiah Banda ahead of next year’s general election.
Emmanuel Mwamba said the former president has freedom under the constitution to express himself.
“The endorsement is not new. In the last presidential by-election held in 2008 (Ex) President Frederick Chiluba declared support for President Rupiah Banda,” he said.
Zambia’s media quoted former President Chiluba as insisting there was nothing wrong with him endorsing the incumbent Rupiah Banda. "In the same manner that I supported Michael Sata in 2006, I am now supporting the candidature of President Banda".
Chiluba is still facing a separate graft case in Lusaka, after a court in Britain convicted him and his former aides in 2007 for stealing about $50 million of state funds -- a charge he denies.
However, if found guilty, Mr. Chiluba could lose his post-presidential benefits.
Critics say Chiluba is supporting President Banda ahead of next year’s election so that he can be guaranteed his freedom.
But spokesman Mwamba said Chiluba is convinced incumbent President Banda is the best man for the job.
“He has decided to support President Rupiah Banda simply because of… his policies. President Rupiah Banda’s policies are pro-poor, they are for workers, they are for job creation and for wealth creation,” Mwamba said.
Transparency International in Zambia and other opposition political parties have accused Chiluba of endorsing President Banda in order to safeguard his freedom, saying that this went against the constitution which bars former leaders from taking part in politics.
A leading opposition figure, Fred Mtesa said Chiluba contravened the constitution by openly engaging in active politics with his endorsement.
“Many critics have observed that former President Chiluba’s endorsement of incumbent President Rupiah Banda is a violation of the law regarding the involvement of the former president in active politics in Zambia. Basically, if it is proven to be true that former President Chiluba is actively involved in politics then he does not deserve to continue getting benefits extension,” Mtesa said.