18 March 2013

Zambia: Handle Rupiah Banda Case Cautiously - TIZ

Photo: Boston University
Rupiah Banda

TRANSPARENCY International Zambia (TIZ) has urged investigative wings to handle former President Rupiah Banda's case professionally and ensure that the matter does not turn out to be an exercise in futility.

The Government Joint Investigative Team (GJIT) has summoned Mr Banda for questioning today on suspected corrupt activities allegedly committed during his three-year term as head of State.

His immunity was lifted by Parliament on Friday to pave way for prosecution.

TIZ president Lee Habasonda said the lifting of Mr Banda's immunity would provide him an opportunity to clear his name.

"We also hasten to note that the lifting of immunity is a very serious measure. To this end, we implore investigative agencies to ensure that this undertaking does not become an exercise in futility.

"We expect the case to be firm given the attention the matter has received. We have learnt lessons from the late former president Frederick Chiluba's cases," Mr Habasonda said.

He said the action on Mr Banda should serve as a timely lesson that there is need for leaders at all times to protect public resources.

Meanwhile, Copperbelt University Students' Union (COBUSU) has also welcomed the lifting of Mr Banda's immunity from prosecution.

COBUSU president Oscar Mbewe said the lifting of Mr Banda's immunity was welcome because it was intended to probe the former president of the alleged offences that he might have committed while in office.

Mr Mbewe said in Kitwe yesterday that the lifting of the immunity would also accord Mr Banda a chance to clear his name on allegations of abusing the authority of his office.

He said there was need for the investigating wings to thoroughly investigate the matter and verify facts before taking the process to court to avoid what happened to the late Dr Chiluba who was, at the end of a laborious court process, acquitted.

Mr Banda is alleged to have entered into an illegal oil contract with a Nigerian firm involving US$2.5 million whose proceeds were allegedly deposited in an off-shore account.

Mr Banda and his family members were accused of preparing their own loan agreements to procure a loan of $1 million from Hands Industries, a firm listed in Dubai as a dealer in clothing and not a financier, for Mpundu Trust.

The GJIT established that Nyiombo Investments procured an unsecured loan for Mpundu Trust, whose directors were Thandiwe Chilongo Banda, a spouse of Mr Banda and two other people who in February 2012, resigned and Mr Banda also became a director.

Copyright © 2013 The Times of Zambia. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.

AllAfrica publishes around 2,000 reports a day from more than 130 news organizations and over 200 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.