Thursday, March 21, 2013

Govt dismisses Banda's persecution claims

Govt dismisses Banda's persecution claims
By Mwala Kalaluka
Thu 21 Mar. 2013, 14:01 CAT

THE government says former president Rupiah Banda will be prosecuted and not persecuted for the wrongs he is suspected to have committed while in office.

Reacting to complaints by Banda following over four hours of questioning on corruption and money laundering-related allegations, chief government spokesperson Kennedy Sakeni stated in a press release yesterday that the alleged wrongs against Banda had been clearly itemised for his response.

"It is unfair for former Republican president Mr Rupiah Banda to accuse government of persecuting him through the ongoing investigations into his alleged wrongdoing while in office," Sakeni stated.

"Mr Banda, like any other citizen, in his situation, is enjoying his full human rights and freedoms such as legal
representation, including the assumption that he is innocent until proven guilty, as per law established."

He stated that further and beyond this, as former Head of State, Banda was still enjoying all other privileges such as state security that go with the status of his office.

"So, what persecution is Mr Banda complaining about? We challenge him to point out any injustice or violation of his human rights that he has suffered during the ongoing investigations," he stated.

"But this country is governed by the rule of law. There are no sacred cows. Whoever is suspected to have done something wrong is called to account for their actions in accordance with the law. The people of Zambia have done just that: to ask their former Head of State to account for his actions in the manner he presided over their resources while he was in office."

Sakeni explained that the law was very clear in its provision on the removal of a former president's immunity when there is suspicion of wrongdoing so that they can exonerate themselves.

"When he addressed his supporters on Monday after appearing before the Joint Investigative Team, Mr Banda is on record as urging sympathisers to remain calm as the investigations would provide him a chance to answer to the various allegations leveled against him," he stated further.

"What has suddenly changed that Mr Banda should now say he is being persecuted over the same process he had earlier welcomed as an opportunity to clear himself over the allegations?"

Sakeni indicated that the Patriotic Front was a responsible government with a duty to ensure public resources benefit Zambians.

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