Saturday, May 12, 2007

Chiluba should be remorseful - KK

Chiluba should be remorseful - KK
By Brighton Phiri and George Chellah
Saturday May 12, 2007 [04:00]

DR Kenneth Kaunda yesterday asked former president Frederick Chiluba to be remorseful for stealing from the Zambian people. And information minister Mike Mulongoti has urged Chiluba to dwell on the grounds upon which the London court found him guilty instead of involving the British government.

Commenting on Chiluba's defence against the London High Court judgment, Dr Kaunda asked President Mwanawasa to ensure that all the monies which Chiluba is said to have stolen were recovered in full.

"Reading through president Chiluba's statement, there is no feeling of remorse or sorrow at all...nothing," Dr Kaunda said. "I have every reason to thank President Mwanawasa for exposing the theft of public funds and I hope he will hold his decision strong and see to it that all the recovery has been made."

Dr Kaunda said the London Court judgment had vindicated him when he accused the Chiluba government of stealing from the Zambian people. "My beloved Zambians I told you...I warned didn't the truth has come out," he said.

Dr Kaunda wondered why Chiluba complained about being tried by a foreign court when he (Chiluba) in 1992 asked the same British government to assist in investigating him over allegations that he stole K6 billion.

"Let us remind Mr. Chiluba, he rushed to Britain for assistance and the British government sent six senior police officers from Scotland Yard between January 2 and June 30, 1992 to find out where I had hidden the K6 billion he and his colleagues alleged I had stolen," said Dr Kaunda. "As an innocent man, I welcomed that. I didn't complain. Why is he complaining now that government has done what he did against me? What he thought should destroy me as an innocent man, helped me to get strong."

And Mulongoti, who is also government spokesperson, said he was concerned with Chiluba's attempts to lure Zambians to his side and to rise against the government. "Government has a duty to protect the interests of the people of Zambia when their funds are alleged to have been put to personal use by the leaders they had entrusted to run their affairs. Further, I wonder what Dr Chiluba meant when he said the judge's comments were so dangerous "that they might cause a breach of peace and security to our beloved country..."," Mulongoti said.

"These remarks, read with his assertion that President Mwanawasa had betrayed national trust and confidence by setting in motion a practice that undermines national sovereignty, security and credulity could only have been designed to incite the people of Zambia against the government.

"For it cannot be termed betrayal of Zambian sovereignty, security and credibility to protect public property by prosecuting a former president on allegations that he defrauded their government."

He said whatever low opinions Chiluba had about the British government and its Prime Minister Tony Blair, he should dwell on the grounds upon which the London court found him guilty.

Mulongoti said Chiluba should not take cover in allegations of racism or colonialism against the British. " In as far as the issues of donations to a president or political parties are concerned, Dr Chiluba misled himself into concluding that the judge disputed his right to such donations. It is true that this right is enjoyed by everyone, including President Mwanawasa who has not hidden receiving donations from well wishers for the MMD party," Mulongoti said.

"There are many other donations that Dr Chiluba received which were not the subjects of the London court hearing because they did not arouse suspicions of wrong doing. This issue, however, is whether a head of state acting transparently could allow or accept the advice, to deposit personal funds into a government account."

He said Chiluba argued that the presence of private and personal monies in the Zamtrop account was at the instigation of former director general of intelligence Xavier Chungu.

"This advice, if indeed it was, could only have been given on account of the fact that the sources were illegal and the public ought not to have known about them. Having failed to explain how much was donated and by who, and considering that what was being withdrawn from the Zamtrop account followed inflows from government, the judge concluded that all the money belonged to the state," Mulongoti said.

"The former president lamented about judge Smith's reference to his clothes and payment of fees for his children. The concern of the court was not that the former president liked expensive clothes or had no right to pay the fees for his children, but that they were paid for from public funds."

Mulongoti said Chiluba made President Mwanawasa's concerns about continued theft by public servants look like a matter the judge should have taken into consideration in determining whether he defrauded the government of Zambia.

"What President Mwanawasa is doing is in keeping with the policy of transparency. He has shown that he has put in place a system that exposes wrong doing, unlike in the Chiluba administration when millions of kwacha were abused and the public could not have known as this was hidden under the secrecy of the intelligence agency," he said.

On Patriotic Front (PF) president Michael Sata's continued attacks on President Mwanawasa's crusade on corruption, Mulongoti said it was only fair and logical for Sata to tell the people of Zambia what exactly happened during the Chiluba regime.

He reminded Sata that he was at the centre as Minister without Portfolio and national secretary of MMD when the election campaign funds for the ruling party were being mobilised.

Mulongoti said it would be unfortunate for Chiluba to reveal how President Mwanawasa benefited from the MMD illegally obtained money only after Judge Peter Smith had found him guilty of defrauding the Zambian government.

"It is interesting that Mr. Sata is hesitating to tell the people of Zambia about the source of the money which he so lavishly distributed at the MMD convention where I happened to be one of the 22 members of parliament expelled from the party," Mulongoti said.

"Zambians have not forgotten that the late Golden Mandandi and Hon. Peter Machungwa were indicted for allegedly misappropriating K2 billion. Mr. Sata was the national secretary at the time and should know better how this money was used. I still hope the people of Zambia will challenge Mr. Sata to ask the government to establish a commission of inquiry into his role in this matter and many others."

And Transparency International Zambia (TIZ) president Reuben Lifuka said Chiluba had failed to defend himself and his attempt to justify his actions came at a late hour.

Lifuka said Chiluba's entire press conference was a vindication that corruption became institutionalized during his regime. Lifuka appealed to the Zambian government and the Attorney General's chambers to register the London judgment locally as provided for in the Foreign Judgments Reciprocal Enforcement Act and that it should be enforced forthwith.

"We have seen the issues raised by him and we feel the press conference for him to justify his actions came at a late hour. Whatever he attempted to do during that press conference was simply to launder his image or reputation. He was just trying to appeal to the emotions of Zambians particularly those who still support him," Lifuka said.

"He failed to clearly defend his position on the allegations that he abused entrusted power for private gains. Even the example he gave on the Zamtrop account, it still amounts to abuse of power. That account should not have contained private money, but public money. "

Lifuka said the press conference was a vindication that there was corruption during Chiluba's rule. "You look at even the examples he was giving, he talked about travel allowances as a mechanism of civil servants earning extra money. Clearly, he is saying that there are civil servants who go on fully paid for trips and they should travel and aim to make money. It shows the character of a man and the way he ran government," he said.

Lifuka said during Chiluba's regime systems broke down.
"Accountability was weak and there was no transparency and everything was hidden in the "black box" of intelligence. Surely should we talk about combat operations of the intelligence in a manner where monies will be abused? We all know that there are intelligence operations but those operations should not be abused," he said.

He said Chiluba should do the honourable thing and accept the judgment. "Otherwise, he will just be politicking if he continues making these statements. He still has an opportunity to defend himself in the Zambian courts. Let him do so, there are criminal proceedings currently going on," Lifuka said.

During a press conference at his Kabulonga residence on Thursday, Chiluba defended himself against the London High Court judgment by accusing President Levy Mwanawasa and British Prime Minister, Tony Blair of corruption and imperialist conspiracy against him.

Dismissing judge Smith's judgment as corrupt and racist, Chiluba accused Blair and the entire British political and judicial system of trying to impose imperialism on Zambia.

Chiluba also accused President Mwanawasa of championing British imperialism in Zambia.

"It is my opinion that both gentlemen Tony Blair and Mwanawasa advanced the popular slogan of corruption to hide their own skeletons in cupboards," charged Chiluba. "They have not provided the necessary leadership they pontificated."

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