Zambia's probe of ex-leader 'a political ploy'

2013-02-07 09:06
Former Zambian leader, Rupiah Banda. (File, AFP)

Former Zambian leader, Rupiah Banda. (File, AFP)

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Johannesburg - A bid by Zambia's government to bring ex-president Rupiah Banda before an anti-corruption panel is a ploy to divert attention from the government's own failings, Banda's lawyer claimed on Wednesday.

The former president has been summoned to answer questions from a team of graft investigators on Thursday.

But his lawyer Robert Amsterdam dubbed the investigation "bogus".

"This is a plot by the government to attack Mr Banda and deflect attention from the corruption investigation" launched by Banda's successor Michael Sata into a number of high-profile members of the former administration, Amsterdam told AFP.

Banda bowed out of power after losing elections to Sata in 2011, in what was hailed as an example of smooth multiple multi-party transitions in southern Africa.

Sata's government has since arrested a number of opponents, raising fears the country is sliding toward authoritarianism.

Opposition leaders and former ministers have been arrested in recent months for an array of offences said to have been committed while they were in office.

Legal action

"This is simply an attempt to do to the former president what they have done to the members of the opposition," Amsterdam added.

"They are attempting to attack every possible politician who could potentially, in their view... present a risk to the Patriotic Front because they have done such a terrible job."

On Tuesday another of Banda's lawyers, Sakwiba Sikota, said his client would not appear before the panel because he enjoys presidential immunity for any offences committed during his time in office.

But the head of Zambia's anti-corruption commission, Rosewin Wandi, said Banda was wanted to answer charges into "allegations of corruption and other criminal activities" in which he had been named.

Amsterdam indicated that Banda might take legal action against the government as early as next week, but refused to give details.

Read more on:    michael sata  |  rupiah banda  |  zambia  |  southern africa
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