Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Cops Ready For Rupiah - Banda was forewarned - Lubinda

Cops Ready For Rupiah - Banda was forewarned - Lubinda
By By Ernest Chanda, Moses Kuwema and Namatama Mundia
Tue 19 Mar. 2013, 10:30 CAT

POLICE and other law enforcement agencies tasked with investigating former president Rupiah Banda's corruption are about to move in and arrest him after Parliament removed his presidential immunity yesterday. And Kabwata PF member of parliament Given Lubinda said Banda had been forewarned that the law will follow him.

According to police sources, Banda is expected to appear before the investigators for questioning and possible arrest in connection with the Nigerian crude oil deal whose proceeds he asked his son Henry to deposit in a Barclays Bank account opened for the purpose in Singapore.
The National Assembly yesterday lifted former president Rupiah Banda's immunity, paving the way for his prosecution for various corrupt acts.

Justice minister Wynter Kabimba moved a motion seeking the removal of Banda's immunity.
When the motion was put to a vote, those that supported it were 80, three opposed the motion while four members of parliament abstained. Since there were 10 opposition members of parliament who remained to vote, it meant that three of those voted for the motion.

But earlier before Kabimba could read the motion, Monze UPND member of parliament Jack Mwimbu rose on a point of order stating that at various fora and in Parliament the Speaker had advised that a matter that was in court could not be discussed on the floor of the House.

"And on several occasions, your office through the Clerk's office have written letters to various political parties pertaining to the expulsions of members who have been appointed or resigned or have been disciplined and they have taken the matters to court. Your office Mr Speaker has always said, once the matter is in court, your hands are tied and that there is nothing you can do until the matter is resolved in the courts of law," he said.

"You have always guided very diligently and prudently that when a matter is before the court, this August House should not discuss that matter because the same is subjudice. The motion being raised is a subject of litigation in the High Court of Zambia. As a result, we feel…we will not be in a position to discuss the matter because it will be subjudice. In that light, we need to have your guided direction considering that the issues that are going to be debated are the same issues that are going to be debated in court."

Mwiimbu said they were aware that the court documents were served on the Clerk of the National Assembly on Thursday afternoon.

He even laid the court document on the table of the House.

"We don't intend, Mr Speaker, to raise the merits or demerits of the motion itself, but we think that the sanctity of this House must not only be seen to be protected, but must be protected. We need your guidance Mr Speaker," said Mwiimbu.

In his ruling, Speaker Matibini said he had indicated before that under the doctrine of separation of powers, the House had a very unique freedom to determine and deal with internal proceedings.

"In a matter involving Honourable minister of Home Affairs, I did issue a very elaborate ruling
indicating that in so far as internal proceedings and procedures of the House are concerned, they are not amenable to the jurisdiction of the court. We have the freedom, under the separation of powers, we have been given the freedom to determine the internal proceedings and procedures of the House; that is the position and that is my ruling," said Speaker Matibini and later allowed Kabimba to present the motion.

At this point opposition members of parliament rose in protest.

As Kabimba started reading the motion, the opposition heckled in disapproval prompting Speaker Matibini to suspend proceedings for 15 minutes, but the period extended to almost two hours, from 14:42 hours to 16:31 hours.

And when business resumed, five more points of order followed, challenging the legality of going ahead with the motion when the case was a subject of litigation in the courts of law.

But Dr Patrick Matibini warned the opposition members of parliament against what he termed illegal disruption of Parliament business. He told them that disruptions would not be allowed.

Later, all opposition members of parliament walked out in protest. However, after Kabimba started reading the motion, a few opposition members returned and participated in the business of the House.

Among those who returned were MMD members Mwansa Mbulakulima, Christopher Kalila, Levy Ngoma, Allan Mbewe, Likolo Ndalamei, Michael Katambo, Isaac Banda and Robert Chiseke.

Others were UPND's Sianga Siyauya, Ambrose Lufuma, Ephraim Belemu, Cornelius Mweetwa, Carlos Antonio, Likando Mufalali and Request Muntanga.

Kabimba told the House that there were various acts of corruption that Banda had committed, hence the need to have his immunity removed so that he could face prosecution in the courts of law.
He told the House that the Government Joint Investigative Team (GJIT) in its investigations discovered that, as Republican president then, Banda personally signed a letter requesting for the supply of 45,000 barrels per day of Term Crude Oil from the Nigerian Petroleum Company in Nigeria.

"The GJIT through its investigations has established that the Zambian government paid the sum of US$2.5 million to the Nigerian National Oil Company for the said crude oil facility through the Zambian Government's Nigerian Procurement and a financing agent called SARB Energy Limited. The GJIT has further established that Henry Banda, son of former president Rupiah Bwezani Banda, was involved in the oil deal with the sole responsibility of deciding where the Nigerian company SARB Energy Limited which was assigned the responsibility to uplift the crude oil would remit the proceeds for this transaction," Kabimba said.

"The GJIT has further established that Mr Henry Banda opened an off-shore bank account with Barclays Bank in Singapore into which the proceeds of the crude oil were remitted on behalf of his father, Mr Rupiah Bwezani Banda instead of the national treasury of the Government of the Republic of Zambia. This diversion of the crude oil proceeds constitutes abuse of
office, fraud and misappropriation of public funds on Mr Rupiah Banda's part for which he must be prosecuted by the GJIT."

He said Banda and his family in 2011 spent over K20 billion on the purchase of election campaign material.

Kabimba said the money was personally handled and disbursed in cash by Banda and his sons.
He further said Banda disbursed the funds through his Senior Private Secretary and the MMD campaign centre manager.

Kabimba said in addition, Banda disbursed K60 million paid in three installments to each parliamentary candidate in all the 150 constituencies.

He said Banda also disbursed K2 million to each local government candidate for the total of 1, 400 wards in the country.

"The GJIT has now established that the sum of K21, 907, 847, 170 cash in total was personally disbursed by former president Rupiah Bwezani Banda and his family. It has also been established that MMD did not have any such amounts of money in its bank account at any time," Kabimba said.
He said during investigations, Banda's senior private secretary, a Mr Nkonde told investigative wings that he did not know the source of those funds.

Kabimba itemised the items Banda bought as follows: bicycle spares and accessories and printed fabrics valued at over K371 million, 42 Toyota
Hilux Vigo valued over k1.8 billion, branded sweets valued at over K28 million, 40 used Bedford trucks at over K686 million, branded T-shirts, caps, badges, hats, balloons, hand flags and flags, 77 used light trucks of various makes valued at over K1.3 billion; 2, 407 bales of printed fabric and various types of motor vehicles all totaling over K10 billion.

"Mr Banda's personal handling of such large sums of monies and his activities constitute acts of money laundering and/or the presumption that the funds in question came from the Zambian national treasury as public funds for which he is liable to prosecution by the GJIT," he said.
Kabimba also said the GJIT had established that Nyombo Investments procured an unsecured loan in Dubai for Mphundu Trust in the sum of US$1
million from a company called Hands Industries, a company listed in Dubai as a dealer in clothing merchandise and not a financing house.

"It is significant to note that Mr Banda's family prepared their own loan agreements. In the absence of any reasonable explanation from former president Rupiah Banda, the presumption that the said loan constitutes gratification under the provisions of the Anti Corruption Act of 2012, is inevitable and hence an offence for prosecution by the GJIT," he submitted.

Kabimba said investigations had also established that Banda and his family had been using Mauritius registered off-shore companies to finance opaque
transactions that were indicative of money laundering.

He named the transactions as the acquisition of a Higer bus using US$200,000 from Carisma Investments in Mauritius, branded bulbs from China worth US$60 000 and paid for by Carisma Investments; imported shoes worth US$300,000 also financed by Carisma Investments.
"The GJIT wants to prosecute Mr Rupiah Bwezani Banda for the above offences of money laundering. In view of the foregoing, I submit that this house should resolve that criminal proceedings against former president Rupiah Bwezani Banda would not be contrary to the interests of the state whatsoever and the GJIT must proceed to prosecute Mr Rupiah Bwezani Banda," he said.

Kabimba said the GJIT had concluded its investigations and was ready to prosecute Banda.
And in supporting the motion, Lubinda said yesterday was a big day for Zambia and the champions in the
fight against corruption.

"I hope this action will invoke citizens out there and ensure that even us as members of parliament live above board. Rupiah Banda was forewarned that these laws in the statutes will follow him. Even the current president knows about this statute and has sent his Minister of Justice to present this motion. This is a good starting point and ought to be
supported by everybody," Lubinda said.

He said members of parliament had a moral duty to Zambians and should demand that those who abused public resources were made to account.
"As we raise this bar, we should also raise our moral uprightness. This is a matter of great public interest and as members of parliament we should not shy away from defending this position," he said.
Lubinda also hoped that the African Parliamentarian Network Against Corruption Zambia chapter would convene a meeting to look at the grounds for the removal of Banda's immunity as presented in Parliament and explain in the communities that they would stand on the fight against corruption regardless of the political parties they belonged to.

Chiefs and traditional affairs minister Professor Nkandu Luo said the removal of Banda's immunity had sent a right signal that anyone who got into public office must ensure they serve the people of Zambia.

She said the hallmark of leadership was based on empathy, love and humility.
"We should be serious as leaders of this country. We are sending a warning to all of us that when we hold these offices, we hold them in trust for
the people of Zambia. We are not above the law. When you are elected as president, you cannot bring your children in taking money out of the country. I am surprised that some people have even walked out of this House just to protect one individual and not the 13 million Zambians. So if Mr Banda is found guilty, he must face the law and if not he must be a free man," said Prof Luo.
Meanwhile, communications deputy minister Colonel Panji Kaunda said there was no vengeance in removing Banda's immunity.
Col Panji said he was supporting the motion with a heavy heart because of his close relations with Banda's family.

"I am more close to Mr Banda apart from honourable Alexander Chikwanda and Inonge Wina. I was accused of smuggling fish from Malawi, Kenneth Kaunda did not shield me and that's how it is supposed to be. We are not above the law. The only way to establish the truth is for Mr Banda to
answer to these allegations," he said.

Col Panji said Dr Kaunda did not have his immunity removed but was searched and investigated.
"We must prosecute any public corruption. The issue of immunity is not a right; it's a privilege and must be removed. We are not removing the former president's immunity because he ruled badly but because there are allegations against him," said Col Panji.

Lupososhi PF member of parliament Bwalya Chungu said leadership demands that people must be transparent and accountable to the Zambian people. In opposing the motion, Chadiza MMD member of parliament Allan Mbewe said removing Banda's immunity would set a bad precedent.

Mbewe said there was need to remove the clause of immunity in the Constitution so that the president could be probed while in office.

Kalomo UPND member of parliament Request Muntanga in opposing the motion said there was need to allow the country to heal than removing the immunity of the former president.
Muntanga feared that the people who would be investigating Banda might spend more money than what was alleged to have been stolen.

"We should approach this matter carefully because the country needs healing. We don't want the Zambian people's money to be used on things that won't even yield any result. We need much more information and not use mere speculations. These monies that are alleged to have been stolen, there is no connection that they came from the state," said Muntanga.

UPND Mbabala member of parliament Ephraim Belemu said it was not right to remove Banda's immunity as this would allow the government to abuse him since they had a record of abusing the Public Order Act and violating human rights of individuals.

Belemu said it was immoral for the PF to have brought the issue of Banda's immunity to the House because their hands were not clean.

And Banda had earlier asked the Lusaka High Court to declare that the resolution of the National Assembly to lift his immunity be supported by at least two-thirds of all the members of parliament.

In this matter, Banda has petitioned Attorney General Mumba Malila over government's move to table a motion during the second session of the 11th National Assembly whose agenda was to lift his immunity.

Banda, who is represented by Prof Patrick Mvunga, Christopher Mundia, Sakwiba Sikota and Ireen Kunda, stated in his petition filed in the Lusaka High Court on Thursday that the motion to lift his immunity raised constitutional issues, which required the court to interpret.

Banda stated that he had read and listened on diverse dates through various print and electronic media, quoting ministers holding various portfolios, indicating that it was the desire of the government to remove the immunity he enjoyed under the Constitution by virtue of having served as president.

He further stated that he received a letter from the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) requesting him to appear before them to answer to various undisclosed criminal charges.

Banda stated that his lawyers responded to ACC explaining that he enjoyed immunity under the Constitution and as such could not avail himself.

Banda has asked the court to declare that that the executive could not lay before the National Assembly and debate grounds or charges for lifting his immunity without giving him an opportunity to be heard.

He has further sought a declaration that the executive could lay before the National Assembly for debate grounds or charges for lifting his immunity that relates to duties that he did which he did undertake in his official capacity and not personal capacity.

"A declaration that the executive cannot adopt a summary procedure to lift my immunity which does not accord me adequate time and facilities to prepare a meaningful defence to the charges," read Banda's petition in part.

He also wants a declaration that he is entitled to be represented by counsel of his choice in any proceedings to lift his immunity.

Banda also prayed for costs of and incidental to the petition plus such declaration and orders as the court may deem fit.

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