19 February 2013

Zambia: Guy Scott Seeks to Repair Zambia's Damaged Image

This week Vice President Guy Scott travelled to South Africa to conduct media interviews to address flagging confidence in the government's spotty record on democracy, rights abuses, and anti-corruption.

Following widespread negative coverage raised by an opposition press conference and presentation of a report to the Commonwealth, Dr. Scott appeared on SABC and Channel Africa radio to say that the Patrotic Front (PF) government has found "a lot of prima facie cases" against Movement for Multiparty Democracy members who served under former President Rupiah Banda and now under Nevers Mumba.

The separate interviews were arranged by the Zambian mission in Pretoria.

According to a statement from Zambia's first Secretary for Press at the mission in South Africa Patson Chilemba, Dr Scott said the unearthing of over K 2 billion at former Labour Minister Austin Liato's farm and the discovering of 2000 bicycles at former Mines Minister Maxwell Mwale house was a tip of the iceberg that the MMD was involved in corruption.

According to the media release, Dr Scott said the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) gave an opportunity to former President Rupiah Banda to clear his name over the corruption allegations tagged to him, but he snubbed the anti graft agency. However, according to the former president's lawyers, the attempt to issue this summons was unlawful given his immunity.

The statement says that former President Banda and his team decided to hold a press conference in South Africa after snubbing the ACC in order to garner international sympathy.

The office of former president Rupiah Banda has categorically stated that the former president did not attend the press conference since he was in South Africa on a private visit.

"The same MMD lifted the immunity of former president Frederick Chiluba in order to allow him to be prosecuted and there is a very good precedence already. We have found a lot of prima facie evidence against the MMD," the statement quotes Dr Scott.

The statement reads that Dr Scott said Mr Banda was guaranteed of the rule of law currently obtaining in Zambia and no court would send him to jail if he was not guilty of the allegations against him.

"We are very tough on corruption and that is why we are not happy. They are squirming under the pressure," reads another part of the statement.

Other opposition representatives have critically questioned the PF's commitment to fighting corruption, especially following an incident when the Minister of Justice Wynter Kabimba arrived to the investigative wings with a group of violent cadres and then refused to answer questions. Other high profile cases, such as claims against the Minister of Defence, have also failed to advance.

The media release says Dr Scott wondered why UPND president Hakainde Hichilema and his MMD counterpart Dr Nevers Mumba decided to hold a press conference in South Africa because the same event was well covered by the Zambia media.

The statement says Dr Scott explained that even the public media, which was being used as a tool for propaganda by the MMD was operating with more freedom and covering the opposition political parties as well.

The release says Dr Scott explained that Zambia was not a one party state and the PF government would not wish for the nation to become one.

"I think it is hysterical what they are doing. I think it is far too over blown. They are losing. They are basically becoming weaker and weaker. We are getting stronger and they say it is because we are using unfair tricks, but we are winning by-elections handsomely. "There is no unlawful imprisonment in Zambia, no military take over. If you want to excite the world press come to South Africa," the statement quotes Dr Scott.

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