Carter backs calls to have Rupiah’s immunity lifted

English: Rupiah Bwezani Banda in Brazil

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RUPIAH Banda should be taken to the courts of law if there is a case against him, demands the British government.

Analysing their three-year stay in Zambia, High Commissioners Thomas Carter and Carolyn Davidson said it was important that the due process of the law was followed on allegations of abuse of office by Banda.

High Commissioner Carter, however, said he was not hearing a clear case being made against Banda.

“I think in these things, it is the due process of the law that has to be followed and if there is a case against Rupiah Banda, that case needs to be made. There is a lot of noise being made about alleged corruption in the former MMD government, but what I am not seeing is clear cases being brought forward through the courts because that’s the way to handle corruption issues. If action is going to be taken, it needs to be taken correctly and at the moment I am not seeing evidence of that,” High Commissioner Carter said.

And High Commissioner Davidson said the United Kingdom had worked very closely with Zambia on the fight against corruption.

“We supported the Task Force on corruption until it was dissolved and we applauded the successes that came from that. But I think there were several high-ranking officials that were prosecuted and I think that’s the important thing that the due process of the law needs to take. And that is why we have put in a lot of effort to actually strengthen the system and the institutions which tackle corruption,” she said.

“The fight against corruption shouldn’t be dependent on one or two people, it should be a systematic approach so that checks and balances are there and the instruments are there which enable corruption to be fought. Yes, I think we felt there was a lot of momentum lost particularly with the cases against former president Frederick Chiluba.”

High Commissioner Davidson said they were also surprised that Chiluba’s case was not appealed after being decided upon by a magistrate court.

“We were surprised that such an important decision such as the criminal case was decided at the level of a magistrate and then not appealed. It wasn’t taken further; it was a very important case involving a very senior figure. And similarly the non-registration of the London judgment which found Chiluba liable for the theft of US$46 million of public funds and the fact that that was not appealed,” High Commissioner Davidson said.

She stressed that it was not the British government that was pursuing Chiluba but the Zambian government.

High Commissioner Davidson said the lack of an appeal on the case was a missed opportunity.

The magistrate court over a year ago cleared Chiluba of his corruption cases and acquitted him. Then Director of Public Prosecutions Chalwe Mchenga rejected an appeal made by the Taskforce against the decision to acquit Chiluba. The government also rejected to register the London High Court judgment entered in its favour where Chiluba was told to pay back US $46 million of public funds stolen when he was president.

And High Commissioner Carter said the British government had contributed seven million pounds to the Anti Corruption Commission to strengthen its work to fight corruption over the last 10 years.

He said all the oversight bodies and the Auditor General had an important role to play.

“And I think it is very important that the oversight bodies have the freedom to pursue their inquiries without political interference, that seems to me absolutely crucial and the same thing applies equally to the judiciary,” High Commissioner Carter said.

On the current regime, High Commissioner Davidson said it was very clear that President Sata was elected with a huge popular support.

“He started to talk about the policies he would follow and what came out very clearly from President Sata’s statement and also from the PF manifesto was a very clear focus on pro-poor policies and we greatly welcome that because that fits in very well with our British development agenda in Zambia,” she said.

“The other thing he made very clear was his determination to fight corruption and that is exactly what we want to hear and support the new Zambian government in its fight against corruption just as we have supported previous governments in the fight against corruption.”

High Commissioner Davidson said the British government also welcomed President Sata’s focus on a new constitution and looked forward to seeing the draft constitution when it is ready.

And High Commissioner Carter said he would like to see a new constitution which enhanced parliamentary democracy, good governance and the rule of law which was fully endorsed by all segments of the Zambian society.

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