Monday, July 08, 2013

Rupiah lucky to be on the loose - Scott
By Moses Kuwema
Sat 29 June 2013, 14:01 CAT

VICE-President Guy Scott says Rupiah Banda is lucky to be on the loose even in Zambia. But one of Banda's lawyers, Sakwiba Sikota told the Voice of America's Peter Clottey that the cancellation of Banda's passport was illegal and an affront to democracy.

And Vice-President Scott says Banda has pledged to support MMD candidate Mtolo Phiri in the upcoming Chipata Central by-election.

In an interview, Vice-President Scott justified the government's action to concel Banda's passport, saying it was well considered.

"The fact is Rupiah Banda is under investigations. Charges are coming up against him and he shows a tendency not to go overseas to sun bask in Mauritius or enjoy himself, but to go and organise against the same people who are prosecuting him. I think he is quite lucky to be on the loose even in Zambia," Vice-President Scott said.

Vice-President Scott said all aspects were considered before Banda's passport was withdrawn.

"The action to withdraw Mr Banda's passport is well considered. His passport has been withdrawn. I am sure he will take it to court for judicial review. I am sure all aspects are being considered and the right action was taken," he said.

And Vice-President Scott claimed Banda had been having side meetings with paramount chief Gawa Undi and even pledged to support Phiri, although this has been denied by one of the chief's advisers.

"Has he left politics or he has not left politics? Is he prepared to face the music or he is not? We don't know," said Vice-President Scott.
But Sikota said if the report in the media was correct, then the government was in breach of the law.

Sikota said Banda had not been convicted of any crime.

"They have it wrong," said Sikota, whose interview with VOA was released by Banda's office.

"The passport that Banda has, he has because of a specific act of parliament, which is the former presidents benefits Act, which sets out what former presidents are entitled to. One of the things the former president is entitled to is a diplomatic passport for himself and for his spouse."

He said a section of the benefits Act stipulates that "a former president shall be disqualified from the benefits conferred by this Act, if he has ceased to hold office on the grounds of willful violation of the constitution, or from his conduct, or if he is convicted of an offense and sentenced to imprisonment for a term exceeding six months."

"None of those apply," Sikota told VOA. "So you cannot take away those accrued rights, because the law states under what circumstances that can be done. So those people saying the government can take that away obviously don't know what the law is."
Sikota said they had not yet received an official notification from the government.

The government this week cancelled Banda's passport because of the on-going corruption investigations against him.

All immigration exit points have been alerted over the cancellation.
Meanwhile asked about PF's chances in the Chipata by-elections in view of Banda's alleged support for Phiri, Vice-President Scott said they were very good.

"I don't think people in Chipata want to be the only ones living in a small country called Bandaland. I think they want to be part of Zambia and being a small territory inside a bigger territory is not very helpful to them, they need to join Zambia," he said.

And on MMD president Nevers Mumba's description of the action taken by the government as stupid, Vice-President Scott said the opposition in the country had run out of vocabulary.

"There is very limited vocabulary currently in the opposition. HH Hakainde Hichilema was saying I was the most stupid muzungu white man he had ever met and now we are the most stupid government. I don't think using the word stupid sheds any light about anything. Nevers Mumba is a member of PF anyway. I don't know what he thinks he is doing attacking us. He tried to stand as our member of parliament in Chinsali, but the local people chased him away. He is a PF man so why is he calling PF stupid now? It is not helpful, that is not politics. Let him explain his point of view," said Vice-President Scott.

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