7 February 2013

Zambia: Rupiah Banda Snubs ACC - Insists Still Enjoying Immunity

Photo: Nation
(file photo) Former president Rupiah Banda inspects a guard of honour.

FORMER President Rupiah Banda has snubbed the Government Joint Investigations Team which summoned him for questioning over corruption and criminal allegations.

Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) director-general Rosewin Wandi confirmed receipt of the letter from lawyers Sakwiba Sikota from Central Chambers and Patrick Mvunga of Messrs Mvunga and Associates who are representing the former Head of State.

Mr Banda's legal representatives maintained that their client was enjoying Constitutional immunity against investigations.

In a letter obtained by the Times dated February 5, 2012, Mr Sikota stated that the former President enjoyed immunity under Article 43 of the Republican Constitution.

"As rightly stated in your letter, our client enjoys immunity under the Constitution. The framers of the Constitution were minded to put in this Article for good reasons. It would be wrong for us to agree to a scheme that circumvents the Constitution of this land.

"If we are prepared to circumvent even the Constitution of the land, what guarantees do we have that the other laws under which the proposed investigations and prosecutions will be held are going to be followed," Mr Sikota said.

The letter further indicated that Mr Banda was not going to be tried in the media, adding that he had already been convicted before going to court.

"We have read in the newspapers that the press are already aware of the steps you are taking and looking at the editorial deadlines the papers have, and the time when the letter was delivered to our client's residence, it is clear that the press had the letter even before it was delivered to our client," the letter reads.

Ms Wandi had warned in her letter that other legal avenues would be deployed to pursue Mr Banda if he failed to avail himself for questioning.

Ms Wandi and spokesperson of the team of investigations, Namukolo Kasumpa did not immediately state the next course of action in the matter.

"All I can say is that the ACC has received Mr Banda's letter, that is all," Ms Wandi said.

Questioned on the follow-up action against Mr Banda, Ms Kasumpa said: "As far as we are concerned we have written to him (Mr Banda) to appear, that's all."

Mr Banda was written the summons on Monday this week over his alleged corruption and criminal engagements while in office and was expected at the Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) head office today.

Ms Wandi acknowledged that the former President enjoyed immunity but that it was in his best interest to defend himself against allegations levelled against him.

Mr Banda's two sons, Andrew and Henry are also facing corruption allegations.

Andrew is on trial over corruption charges in road contracts signed between the Road Development Agency and Fratelli Locci Construction Company, an Italian firm.

Henry, who is based in South Africa, is being sought by investigative wings for corruption but has refused to avail himself.

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