Graft watchdog back calls to lift ex-Zambian leader's immunity

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, February 12, 2013
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An international corruption watchdog has backed calls to have former Zambian President Rupiah Banda's immunity removed to pave way for comprehensive investigations, the Zambia Daily Mail reported on Tuesday.

Last week, the former Zambian leader refused to appear before investigative wings for interrogations which had summoned him regarding allegations of corruption and other criminal activities because he enjoyed immunity as a former leader.

On Monday, Minister of Justice Wynter Kabimba said the government has no choice but to ask Parliament to lift the former president's immunity and decide his fate.

But Transparency International Zambia (TIZ), a local chapter of Transparency International (TI), said it would be futile to investigate the former president without lifting his immunity.

"If Mr. Banda is culpable, he must be investigated but the proper process of lifting his immunity must be followed so that investigative wings are not hindered by his constitutional immunity," Lee Habasonda, the organization's president was quoted as saying by the paper.

He said the precedent was set when former and late Zambian President Fredrick Chiluba was stripped of his immunity by Parliament in 2002 and that investigative wings were free to investigate and question him.

"This should be a lesson....they must present a motion to Parliament if Mr. Banda has issues that are serious. If the ACC (Anti Corruption Commission) wants to pursue Mr. Banda, they should lobby Parliament to lift his immunity," he added.

Banda ruled Zambia from August 2008 to September 2011 and he becomes the latest high profile person from his administration to be called by investigative wings that have been probing corruption in his administration.

Some of his ministers and other senior government officials have been questioned and are appearing in court. His elder son, Andrew, is also appearing in court while his other son, Henry, is being sought by investigative wings to answer charges of corruption. Endi

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