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 2009-08-20 01:20 pm Back to NEWS
Rupiah is insulting Zambians - Fr Mwewa

CATHOLIC Diocese of Ndola Treasurer-General Fr. Augustine Mwewa has observed that President Rupiah Banda had a big influence in the outcome of former president Frederick Chiluba's corruption case.

Commenting on Chiluba's acquittal and President Banda's statement on the matter, Fr. Mwewa charged that President Banda was insulting Zambians by thanking them for having accepted Chiluba's acquittal.

Fr. Mwewa, who spoke in his individual capacity, said President Banda had a big influence in the outcome of the case.

"Personally, I saw it coming," Fr. Mwewa said. "The moment Chiluba entered into that relationship with Rupiah Banda and the way Rupiah Banda related to Chiluba. Rupiah Banda is insulting us by saying that Zambians have accepted; which Zambians have accepted? Which Zambians is he talking about? We are not fools, we are not stupid. He had a big influence on the outcome."

Fr. Mwewa branded President Banda as
a danger to Zambia's fortunes.

"The longer he stays in power, the longer it will take to turn around the country," he said. "I personally as a Zambian I haven't accepted [Chiluba's acquittal]. I believe Chiluba stole according to the London judgment which he didn't dispute. He was fighting its registration. Chiluba is not innocent when his wife was convicted for having received stolen property, they were even discussing this on SABC [South African Broadcasting Corporation]. We are contradicting ourselves."

Fr. Mwewa said President Banda, in Chiluba's case, acted in the same manner he did over the woes that education minister Dora Siliya faced after the tribunal found her to have breached the Constitution. He said President Banda immediately reappointed Siliya after High Court judge Philip Musonda cleared her of having breached the Constitution.

"The President did the same over the Dora Siliya case. Barely a few hours after judgment was passed, he reappointed her," Fr. Mwewa said. "Zambians, rise to the occasion and say 'no!' The President is guilty by saying that Zambians have accepted and that he never made a comment on the case. He was making comments saying all sorts of things like 'he [Chiluba] was a damn good president'. President Mwanawasa must be turning wherever he is. It's sad for this country."

Fr. Mwewa complained that Zambia's systems had collapsed and that even the Judiciary seemed to have failed Zambians.

"If a person loses that sense of shame then the conscious is dead," said Fr. Mwewa. "This is what we have seen in the current crop of leaders. The current government seems to have lost it. The same government made Zambians rise to the occasion to push for the lifting of his [Chiluba] immunity and today they are siding with him. People, we are the government and if we leave it to politicians we are doomed. So registering the London judgment should be our preoccupation."

Fr. Mwewa expressed doubt that the Zambian government under present circumstances would continue pursuing the registration of the London judgment. He said the poor Zambians paid for the costs that were associated with the case against Chiluba and that they were the ones who had lost in the judgment.

Fr. Mwewa said the judgment had sent a signal that Zambian prisons were only for the poor.

On Monday, Ndola High Court Deputy Registrar Jones Chinyama acquitted Chiluba on all counts of embezzling public funds amounting to US $500,000 but convicted former Access Financial Services Limited (AFSL) directors Aaron Chungu and Faustine Kabwe and sentenced them to five years imprisonment.

On the same day in Kabwe during the 28th general conference of the Council of Churches in Zambia (CCZ) at Mulungushi University, President Banda said nobody could deny that Chiluba did a lot of good things for the country.

President Banda said he had avoided commenting on Chiluba's cases before the judgment.

"Today is a very important day for the Zambian community. As we are speaking now, our former president Chiluba is in court
and the verdict is being pronounced on him. I have kept quiet at all times because I believe that we need the Judiciary to adjudicate on these matters," President Banda said after 13:00 hours. "Soon you will know what the Judiciary will decide. I have however been criticised from many quarters saying because I am silent, I am not saying anything against president Chiluba, I am therefore condoning whatever he did. That is judging someone before justice. We know in our country that one is presumed innocent until what? Everyone here knows that, even the children.

"But there are grown-ups in our country who say no, he is guilty even before he is proven guilty. That is not fair to a human being. I have refused to be part of that, it's good I am here today so that no one can say I influenced the verdict. Very soon you will hear what the verdict is, and whatever the verdict is, there is a human being involved who also deserves justice. Today it is him, tomorrow it is me. Tomorrow it is anyone of you."

On Tuesday, President Banda thanked and congratulated Zambians for accepting the acquittal of Chiluba on corruption charges.

Speaking at State House in Lusaka after he swore in Hildah Chibomba as Supreme Court judge, Abyudi Shonga Jr as Solicitor General and bestowed the status of state counsel on United Liberal Party president Sakwiba Sikota and Director of Public Prosecution Chalwe Mchenga, President Banda said there was anxiety about what would happen to Chiluba before the judgment.

"I want to thank the Zambian people, your honour the Zambian people today, for having accepted the decision of the Judiciary. I congratulate them because all of us were anxious; we wanted to know what will happen to one of our former presidents. The Zambian people really have to be congratulated for respecting the Judiciary, for respecting this noble institution. Whoever thought of it, wherever he came from, was a very wise person and that's why this should continue to thrive," President Banda said. "In those countries where the Judiciary has been despised and branded and replaced with things less than the Judiciary, the problems have never ended. We are very happy here in Zambia that we have a Judiciary for which we are very proud."

Recently in Mansa on Radio Yangeni, President Banda said he would not treat Chiluba as a leper even if he were convicted for corruption by the courts of law because he did a lot for the country.

President Banda said he had a lot of respect for Chiluba who he described as having been a
damn good president.

[Italics are ours]

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