YALI Speaks Out On Immunity Of Fomer President Banda

PRESS STATEMENT
Sunday, February 17, 2013
For Immediate Release

Zambian eye YALITHE Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) will support the lifting of former President Rupiah Bwezani Banda’s immunity from prosecution when law enforcement agencies and government show cause that a solid case and evidence exists worth prosecuting in our courts of law. YALI is concerned with a growing cartel of criminals who wield too much power and are willing to use their resources to defend each other and abuse public trust for selfish and egoistic interests. We ask the nation to firmly oppose such a syndicate of persons wanting to break the law or abuse public trust.

YALI is challenging the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) and other law enforcement agencies to come out clear and provide the nation with evidence that would necessitate the lifting of immunity of Zambia’s immediate past President, Mr. Rupiah Banda. This would also help to remove speculation and doubts from certain sections of our society that the former Head of State is being persecuted at the instigation of persons or bodies who harbor hatred or seek vengeance against Mr. Rupiah Banda.

In like manner, YALI calls on civil society organizations (CSOs) and the media to wait and keenly look forward to evidence from law enforcement agencies on the alleged wrong-doing by Mr. Rupiah Banda before they could form opinions that incite and unnecessarily excite the nation to rise against the former President in the absence of such evidence. We believe that talk of conducting demonstrations and picketing Members of Parliament, at this stage, is not only premature but not well thought-out since law enforcement agencies have not laid down any evidence that expressly exposes any wrongdoing by former President Banda. We, indeed, must cross the river when we reach the bridge and law enforcement agencies are better placed to help the nation build the bridge by providing evidence of any wrong-doing by former President Banda.

YALI will stand to support government in its duty to protect public resources and bringing all persons connected with plunder of public resources to book as long as the due process of the law is followed and that the accused are treated in accordance with laws of natural justice. The rule of law and the dictates of natural justice demands that those accused of crimes are not pronounced guilty before they are heard in a free and fair trial before our courts of law. Even as law enforcement agencies continue to investigate and bring to book former leaders for various crimes, we as a nation and our leaders must resist the temptation of labeling others as criminals in the absence of evidence.

In view of issues associated with immunity of former Presidents, YALI implores the nation to rethink the law on Presidential immunity with a view to enshrining in our new constitution that ‘any person who ceases to be in the office of the Presidency shall automatically lose immunity’ so as to pave way for investigations into any alleged crimes by former Heads of State and allow them to account for their actions.

Much as we appreciate the rhetoric the nation continues to be subjected to about the fight against corruption, we ask the ACC and government to back this rhetoric by real action and ensure that all persons accused of corrupt acts – whether amongst former leaders or in the current regime – are investigated and prosecuted without exceptions.

While YALI does not subscribe to politics of hatred, vengeance, vindictiveness and the selective fight against corruption, we believe no one has a right to undermine systems put in place to curb corruption. We are therefore concerned with delays by the judiciary to dispose high profile cases involving persons who held political offices. We therefore challenge the State and the judiciary to clearly tell the nation the status of cases involving among others Mr. George Mpomba, Dr. Katele Kalumba, other leaders accused of corruption or appearing before our courts on various charges and, most importantly, on how government intends to proceed with the registration of the London Court Judgment.

Signed

Isaac Mwanza
Governance Advisor
Young African Leaders Initiative