News24

Chiluba graft acquittal slammed

2009-09-30 19:02

Lusaka - Zambian civil society groups on Wednesday called on citizens to wear black clothes and "honk" every Friday to protest last month's graft acquittal of ex-president Frederick Chiluba.

"We call upon all Zambians who love this country and are worried about corruption to wear black and honk or whistle every Friday at 17:00 for 10 minutes," Sam Mulafulafu, spokesperson for 17 groups, told a news briefing.

"We call upon all ministers and senior government officials who hate corruption to join in this campaign. This is not about causing anarchy as government would want the people to believe, this is a fight for justice."

Mulafulafu said that the acquittal of Chiluba, who was charged with embezzling $500 000, was highly questionable and said that civic organisations will embark on campaigns to demand an appeal.

"This entire case is a clear testimony of the current government's lack of political will to fight corruption," he said.

"This lack of political will has unfortunately exerted a lot of pressure on our judiciary to start making political instead of legal judgments."

The Zambian government has said it will not appeal the August 17 acquittal, firing the country's top graft investigator after he filed a challenge.

The groups also called for Justice Minister George Kunda, who is also vice president, and public prosecutions chief Chalwe Mchenga to resign for saying that an appeal will not be sought.

They also called on the speaker of the national assembly to ignore Chiluba's request for parliament to restore his immunity from prosecution.

"We are petitioning the Speaker to ignore the calls by Chiluba to have his immunity restored," Mulafulafu said.

Zambian President Rupiah Banda, who assumed office after the death of Levy Mwanawasa in August 2008, has had his fight against corruption questioned owing to the acquittal of Chiluba, who ruled from 1991 to 2001.

The former head of state was cleared on August 17 of charges that he embezzled the state funds during his 10 years in office, when the former trade unionist developed a taste for flashy suits and custom shoes.