Zambian ex-president's immunity – Zambian former president Rupiah Banda’s lawyer has denounced plans by the ruling Patriotic Front (PF) party to table a motion before parliament requesting the removal of the immunity of the former president.
Lawyer Robert Amsterdam said in a statement here that the move was a politically motivated desecration of the rule of law.
Amsterdam said: “By attempting to remove former President Banda’s immunity in the absence of any evidence, case, let alone any specific allegations of any wrongdoing, the PF government is attempting to subvert the rule of law in order to remove any and all political opponents from the scene.
“They are behaving exactly in the manner that we predicted one year ago, beginning with false accusations against his son which of course went nowhere, while destroying Zambia’s international reputation as a law-abiding democracy in the process.”
According to local media reports Friday, Justice Minister Wynter Kabimba is scheduled to table a motion in Parliament to request the removal of immunity of former President Banda.
Amsterdam, however, disclosed that Banda’s legal team on Thursday filed papers before the Lusaka High Court not to have the issue tabled and discussed in parliament on Friday.
“One cannot simply begin with the verdict and go backwards toward the case, evidence, and accusation, you have to do it the other way around,” said Amsterdam, “And the PF’s failure to follow normal procedure is a sign of their political motivation: this is not an exercise related to any real or imagined crime, but rather a hasty political ploy set in motion by a desperate party,” Amsterdam charged.
If parliament votes to remove the immunity of Banda, the former president would be answerable to a number of investigations. Banda was recently summoned by the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) to appear for questioning over alleged corrupt activities during his three-year term in office but he refused to appear before the commission.
If Banda is stripped of his immunity, he will become the second president in Zambia to have his immunity removed. Late president Fredrick Chiluba also had his immunity removed to probe him for abuse of office.
Banda left office in September 2011 after he lost elections to President Michael Sata.
The distribution of MPs in parliament is: PF 74 (including 8 nominees), former ruling Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) 48; United Party for National Development (UPND) 29; Forum for Democracy and Development 1; Alliance for Democracy and Development 1 and two independent MPs.