Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Rupiah is a perpetual liar, says Sondashi

Rupiah is a perpetual liar, says Sondashi
By Ernest Chanda and Kombe Chimpinde
Wed 06 Mar. 2013, 14:00 CAT

INFORMATION minister Kennedy Sakeni says Benjamin Mwila has no credibility with which he can defend Rupiah Banda because they both literally participated in the looting of national resources.

And Dr Ludwig Sondashi says Banda is a perpetual liar who knows that he will end up in jail if his immunity is lifted.

Responding to the former Nchelenge Zambia Republican Party member of parliament's utterances against the lifting of former president Banda's immunity, Sakeni said the best Mwila could do was keep quiet.

"What do you expect from people like ba BY? He is not the right person to talk about RB's immunity. If I were him, I would rather have kept quiet; his credibility is always doubted by the Zambians," Sakeni said in an interview yesterday.

"There's a contract they were being awarded, people who never won the bid, behind the doors they became the contractors; being given huge contracts of money. Without any record of what they had done before they were given huge contracts by their friend (Banda), so you don't expect people like him to condemn because they were literally partakers in the scam."

Sakeni said when people aspire to public offices, they must always bear in mind that they were there to serve the people diligently.

He said there was no other way a former president, who is suspected to have embezzled public funds, could be prosecuted without removal of their immunity.

"And when you are suspected of dipping your hands in people's money, how else do you expect people to recover whatever you are alleged to have embezzled when you were president, because the only way a president's allegations of embezzlement can be sorted out is through the removal of his immunity," Sakeni said.

"So, removal of immunity is important so that if you are innocent, you remove the tag of guilty in the public eye. And if we let the precedent of allowing suspected embezzlement to go unchallenged by removal of immunity, then we are setting the worst precedent that whoever goes there has to dip his hands in the national coffers; you have to weigh the two things."

On Mwila's complaint over the appointment of some MMD members of parliament as deputy ministers, Sakeni responded: "He has no moral right to condemn that, the man had his own political party on which he stood in Nchelenge. Where did he find himself? On the side of former president Rupiah Banda, that's where he found himself, a president of a political party!"

In what he termed an open letter to sons and daughters of Zambia, Mwila described calls to remove Banda's immunity as politics of hatred.
He accused late president Levy Mwanawasa of having been driven by the same when he summoned Parliament to remove Chiluba's immunity in 2003.

"My biggest concern right now is that as Zambians we are being hoodwinked with the politics of hate, politics of malice and politics of jealousy. When today we talk about the lifting of the immunity of the fourth Republican president Rupiah Bwezani Banda, we should always look back to the damages that our Parliament and the third Republican president Levy Patrick Mwanawasa did to the second Republican president Frederick Titus Jacob Chiluba," he said.

"Very strong allegations were made against him and the Zambian people responded positively to punish FJT. That action alone made the second Republican president FTJ suffer irreparable damage while in retirement. Up until his demise, FTJ never quite recovered from the shock, tribulations and torture as a result of the allegations levelled against him.

"Admittedly, FTJ had a very strong will as well as a strong character that made him survive the 10 years after leaving State House. He was really tortured and he could have died earlier. Strangely, all the allegations brought before Parliament and upon which the honourable members based their decision to lift FTJ's immunity were not used in the indictment he faced."

Mwila said even those who were now calling for the removal of Banda's immunity were being duped.

"Today a certain section of the Zambian people is vociferously demanding that Parliament lifts the immunity of the fourth president of the Republic of Zambia Mr Rupiah Bwezani Banda. It can be seen that the Zambian people are once again being duped into accepting that Parliament lifts RB's immunity. We can see the trend, which took place in the FTJ process being repeated," said Mwila.

On the appointment of MMD members of parliament into government, Mwila said: "With regard to the party I helped found (MMD), my heart bleeds when I see honourable members of parliament weakening the MMD by accepting jobs as deputy ministers simply because of the flag on the official car."

And Dr Sondashi, who is a former justice minister and leader of Forum for Democratic Alternatives (FDA), said in an interview that he was shocked by Banda's plea that he should be left alone to enjoy his retirement.

On Monday, Banda told Radio Phoenix in an interview from Nairobi, that those calling for his immunity to be lifted must allow him to enjoy his retirement.

Banda, said while they were calls for his immunity to be lifted following corruption-related allegations during his three-year tenure, he did the best he could for the country, adding that he had done a lot for the country.

Banda also said that he did not like the idea of lifting his immunity because it was detrimental to the development of the country.

But Dr Sondashi said Banda was a perpetual liar who was in the habit of twisting issues to work in his favour.

"It also shows that Banda is not repentant and that he is a perpetual liar and can easily twist issues," Dr Sondashi said.

"When Mr Banda served as president of Zambia he did not perform well. His three-year term was characterised by rampant corruption. He is even known for interfering with the courts to stop the courts from registering the London judgment which upheld that the late Fredrick Chiluba stole from Zambians."

Dr Sondashi said it was Banda who punitively removed the abuse of office clause to cover up for corrupt activities in his administration.

"Its Mr Banda who also amended the law dealing with corruption, the Anti Corruption Act to remove the clause which dealt with abuse of office by public officers," Dr Sondashi said.

"It is him who prevailed to have Chiluba come out of the courts where he was taken on charges of corruption, and it is him who brought his children into government to benefit from several contracts which were marred with corruption. So, if that is the record which Mr Banda is talking about, then I think it is clear that Zambians made a mistake to vote for Banda to be their president."

Dr Sondashi said if Banda was a honourable statesman, he should be repentant over all the plunder committed in his regime.

"Banda must ask himself 'why was he removed from office after only being there for three years?' The reality in Zambia is that people would like a president to complete two terms, so if you see them remove you for only having been there for three years, it means there is a problem," he said.

"Banda knows very well that he was removed from office because of corruption. He knows he amassed public resources, it's a pity that Zambians did not know the type of person Banda was. President Kaunda had spared him when he served in his office. Now after he was given a chance to run the country, everything came to the open and Zambians realised he could not be trusted."

Dr Sondashi said that Banda had a heavy cloud over his head and that he should apologise to Zambians.

"If I were Banda, I would have gone to my knees to plead with the Zambian people to forgive me for the plunders which he committed," Dr Sondashi said.

"We can't allow a man to enjoy immunity, when he is having cloud over his head. We will not allow that. Millions of Zambians do not have immunity, so why is he fearing to have his immunity lifted?"

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