Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Rupiah Expects His Case To Take Long

Rupiah Expects His Case To Take Long
By Mwala Kalaluka
Tue 19 Mar. 2013, 13:10 CAT

FORMER president Rupiah Banda says his court case on corruption and money laundering-related allegations will be a long affair and he does not want to burn himself out. And access to the Drug Enforcement Commission DEC) offices in Lusaka was yesterday restricted when Banda appeared for interrogations before the Government Joint Investigations Team (GJIT) over corruption-related allegations.

But the GJIT says it has not finished quizzing Banda and the interrogations will continue today. Addressing a push and shove press briefing outside the DEC offices after over three hours of interrogations, Banda said he knew he was going to go to court.

"As you know we are going to go to court. This is going to be a long
affair so it is necessary we don't burn ourselves out," said Banda as
he thanked those that had come because they were interested in what
was happening to him and other leaders.

"We have a duty and responsibility to keep our country together and peaceful even under provocation. We must remain calm because that will give me a chance to speak to various authorities."

Asked what had transpired inside the DEC offices, Banda said he was expected to appear before the investigators again today morning and he
urged his supporters to turn up.

But Team spokesperson Namukolo Kasumpa said no charges had been pressed on Banda yet as the interrogation was still ongoing.

Shortly before Banda, whose presidential immunity was lifted by members of parliament on Friday, arrived at the DEC offices for questioning, the MMD's vice-president for administration, Dr Brian Chituwo, MMD parliamentary whip, Prof Geoffrey Lungwangwa, MMD chairperson for elections, Kenneth Chipungu and the party's deputy national secretary, Chembe Nyangu were denied entry into the DEC headquarter premises, including the party's chairperson for mines, Maxwell Mwale.

"It is only the former president and his lawyers and the lawyers are already inside," a plain-clothed police officer armed with a short baton told the quartet as Chipungu replied, "even his sympatisers? But you know that everyone has sympathisers."

Subsequently they complied and went to join the likes of Muhabi Lungu and William Banda that were standing behind a wire fence in the Road Transport and Safety Agency (RTSA) office premises across the road.

A few minutes after Banda was due to arrive, police in riot gear sealed the Nationalist and Jacaranda road junction to block chanting and placard-carrying MMD and UPND cadres that had surrounded Banda's approaching motorcade.

Banda's motorcade could not proceed to the DEC offices because political cadres, some high on alcohol, battled with police officers that had been instructed not to allow any party cadres pass through the human cordon.

The cadres led by MMD Die Hard coordinator Bowman Lusambo and UPND youth Lemmy Mukoba taunted the police officers amidst chants of 'no, no don't kutina'. Ultimately, Mukoba was slapped by a police officer seemingly to calm him down, and he was pulled aside where he was advised to behave himself and he shook his head in agreement. UPND deputy spokesperson Edwin Lifwekelo also chatted with Mukoba.

During the confusion, Banda, who was in the company of his successor Nevers Mumba, alighted from his motor vehicle and walked about 100 metres to the DEC offices thronged by sympatisers, security and media personnel.

Banda, who waved towards his sympathisers, took a while to enter the gate into the DEC offices as MMD and UPND cadres tried to break the security cordon in order to get inside.

But once Banda had entered, the security personnel shut the door and in the process shutting out former communications minister, Dora Siliya and Banda's sympathisers, Brebner Changala and Dante Saunders. Changala complained bitterly that people should be allowed to be where those they loved were.

"This is our motherland," said Changala upon realising that he could not go inside. "We are not at war. This is our country and we have a right to be where the people we love are. You can't harass us anyhow."

Parliament heard on Friday that Banda disbursed K60 million paid in three installments to each parliamentary candidate in all the 150 constituencies. Justice minister Wynter Kabimba 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 named 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.

Banda is also supposed to explain how US$ 2.5 million meant for lifting of oil from Nigeria was instead channeled to another account in Singapore through his son Henry.

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