Tuesday, February 26, 2013

We'll promote stealing if Rupiah's immunity is not lifted - Nalubamba

We'll promote stealing if Rupiah's immunity is not lifted - Nalubamba
By Kombe Chimpinde
Tue 26 Feb. 2013, 14:00 CAT

SENIOR Chief Bright Nalubamba of the Ila people of Namwala says Zambians will be promoting stealing if they do not lift Rupiah Banda's immunity. But the three Church mother bodies seem to be divided over the matter with some calling the debate on Banda's immunity a waste of time and others calling for caution.

In an interview, chief Nalubamba said that stealing of resources by leaders would become habitual if former president Banda was not prosecuted for suspected corruption-related allegations.

"To avoid a lot of suspicion, let us lift his immunity so that his name can be cleared. If he is found wanting, the law should take its course. If we just leave it like that, then other presidents who are coming, they will be doing bad things against the people. They will be corrupt; everybody now will be abusing public resources because he is the head of state," Nalubamba said.

"It won't be fair to our country. We have to send a strong message that we want to avoid and prevent such corrupt activities from happening. How then are we going to avoid and prevent such corrupt activities for a president who is stealing in office when they leave office?"
Chief Nalubamba said that there was nothing wrong and expensive about lifting Banda's immunity.

"They are saying it's expensive, but what is not expensive? Stealing money from the people, from the citizens? Is that cheap? If we are afraid of the costs, then it is most unfortunate," he said.

And the Zambia Episcopal Conference says it will examine the evidence that would be presented to the nation over Banda's alleged corruption.
ZEC secretary general Fr Cleophas Lungu said that it would not support the premature lifting of Banda's immunity.

"We don't believe in the authenticity of the current calls. It is just a waste of our time. There are more important issues anyway. So I don't think anybody is ready to go into that," Fr Lungu said. "We endorse LAZ's statement on the issue."

And Council of Churches in Zambia has resolved not to say anything on the matter until after further consultations.
Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia executive director Reverend Pukuta Mwanza said that his body was in support of lifting of Banda's immunity.

"We are in total agreement with calls to investigate alleged corruption practices but looking into the history of immunity, we are concerned that the government must not rush the lifting of the immunity of the former president because it is important that the government has credible information and facts or evidence and that there is a good case against the former head of state.

If government will rush, there is a danger that information will be scanty and it will not be able to yield the intended results. That can robe the credibility of the investigative team," Mwanza said.

"It will be important to do this cautiously."
And Heritage Party president Brigadier General Godfrey Miyanda advised the government to learn lessons from prosecution of the late Fredrick Chiluba if their bid to lift Banda's immunity and make him account for his alleged misdeeds was to be successful.

"We are totally against corrupt activities in any form. That is why we advocate for an unencumbered Judiciary which is not timid or intimidated by overzealous activists. Tampering with the Judiciary by anyone, let alone the President, is tantamount to treason. Regardless of status, all citizens' rights are protected by our Constitution; no shortcuts," Brig Gen Miyanda stated in a statement.
He stated that the current atmosphere was not appropriate to lift Banda's immunity.

He stated that procedures must be constitutional and credible.

"While not supporting any crimes that are alleged to have been committed by former president Banda, we object to the lifting of the immunity under the prevailing atmosphere. We base our reasons on: i. Lessons learnt from the Mwanawasa motion against Dr Chiluba; ii. Conduct of President Sata before and after forming government; iii. A compromised and captive National Assembly," Brig Gen Miyanda stated.

He explained that the late Levy Mwanawasa tabled in Parliament over 100 charges against Chiluba and declared that he had established a prima facie case.

He stated that after lifting his immunity, Chiluba was never charged with the charges outlined in Parliament.

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