FORMER foreign affairs minister Mundia Sikatana yesterday
charged that statements coming from the state over Frederick Chiluba's acquittal
are unprecedented in the history of the country. In an interview, Sikatana, who
is also a lawyer, said when one hears the statements coming from President
Rupiah Banda, Vice-President George Kunda and Director of Public Prosecutions
(DPP) Chalwe Mchenga, it was as if there should never be any appeals over such
matters involving Chiluba.
He wondered what President Banda and his
government were trying to protect in Chiluba.
"The interest by the state
is unprecedented. The manner in which the state is reacting against the
acquittal, let us see the views of the Supreme Court," Sikatana said. "When you
hear the President, his Vice-President and the DPP, it is as if there should
never be such appeals. All I am saying is the law allows for
Sikatana said the justice system in the country allowed for
appeals up to the apex [Supreme Court].
"This matter should not raise so
much hullabaloo; I believe that the DPP should allow the case to go on appeal to
the Supreme Court to determine based on the judgment of the [Magistrates] court
acquitting president Chiluba. In other words, I'm one of those people who wish
to see the matter go up on appeal," Sikatana said. "You will agree that during a
lengthy trial, a lot of evidence shown had to make people to conclude that the
acquittal cannot stand."
Sikatana said those in authority should not be
seen to be protecting those that held high office.
He said if the grounds
for the appeal against the acquittal were weak, as claimed by Mchenga, Chiluba
would still be acquitted.
"It is not for anybody outside the Judiciary to
tell the nation whether or not the grounds are weak," Sikatana said.
said the matter involving Chiluba gave the nation a guarantee of the future,
where those that held high office should be prepared to undergo trial and should
not be protected.
Sikatana asked President Banda and his government to
stop stifling the justice system in the country.
He said President Banda
should try harder because late president Levy Mwanawasa's legacy could not
easily be imitated.
He said the manner in which President Banda had
handled Chiluba's issue was a major departure from president Mwanawasa's
"Levy would not have tolerated stifling of justice in the
country. This [President Banda's conduct over Chiluba] amounts to stifling.
Those of us who seem to have contrary views should not be seen to be inimical to
the interests of the state. We mean well," Sikatana said. "When you hold such a
position, it is very easy to be cheated, to be carried away by the wind, which
the current government should try by all means to avoid."
revealed that he was one of those who had been invited to join the group that is
seeking a judicial review in the High Court against Mchenga's withdrawal of the
appeal against Chiluba.
"All the public is saying is, there is abundant
evidence shown publicly... it cannot be buried alive. There was so much
evidence. You go through that. What do we do to the evidence? Just bury it? It
will rise from the dead," he said.
On Chiluba's calls to have his legal
immunity restored, Sikatana said there was no constitutional provision which
stipulated that the immunity could be restored once it was lifted.
said he was in fact the one who raised the motion to have Chiluba's immunity
lifted and did not regret the action.
"I don't know of any provision in
the law that would compel Parliament that had withdrawn his immunity to restore
it. I was MP [member of parliament] when it was withdrawn," said