The desperation by former president Rupiah Banda to hide the corruption and theft he is accused of committing when he served as president has suffered a set back after Ludwick Sondashi sued him for slander.
There is an ongoing desperate process to restore Rupiah Banda’s lost immunity before the elections in August this year.
Mr Banda was politically acquitted of stealing oil by the PF regime and has since launched a bid to force parliament to protect him from prosecution for stealing from the people he was elected to save. So far, parliament has for five times resisted to table the motion to restore the duly removed immunity from prosecution and being sued in civil courts by individuals he offended while serving as president.
All was going well and his supporters were ready to ask parliament to restore the immunity once parliament reopens but this prospect has been scattered by a legal action by Mr Sondashi.
What the suit by Sondashi means is that parliament can not debate or restore Mr Banda’s immunity as long as there is an ongoing case in court. In line with separation of powers and in particular by the subjudice principle, parliament is not allowed to raise in its committees or debate in the chamber any matter that is in court. That is why Mr Banda and his supporters are panicking at the fact that Mr Sondashi has sued him.
Hasn’t anyone wondered why a simple case of defamation between Mr Banda and Mr Sondashi has raised so much dust and sucked in a lot of people? Now you know. Its not just about defamation. Its about Mr Banda’s immunity and the prospect of the oil and other theft cases against him being revived if his puppet Edgar Lungu does not retain power.
As president, Mr Banda could not be arrested for any crime or be sued even if he deliberately defamed a citizen. That is why, in March 2009, Rupiah Banda made the following damning allegations:
“I would like to warn Dr Sondashi, I am President now, I have records for everything in this country. You ask Dr Sondashi why he was dropped as Cabinet minister. Let him tell Zambian people the true reasons. And if what I am saying is not true, if I am scandalising Dr Sondashi, I would like to ask him to go and challenge me in court. I will then produce the real reasons why he was sacked as minister. He knows very well that he has no business talking about corruption. If there is anybody in this country whose corruption is blatant, is obvious, this man Dr Sondashi,” President Banda told students from institutions of higher learning in Lusaka that were transported to State House to express their solidarity with him. “It’s no good results for our party to have a man like him who has no shame, who committed corruption and was caught red- handed. Let him go to court.”
Now that Mr Sondashi has gone to court, why is Mr Banda fighting so hard to prevent judges from hearing this case?
Since Mr Banda was president, Mr Sondashi could not sue him in his personal capacity so he sued ZNBC which aired the slander. But clearly Mr sondashi did not receive justice as the person who sued him did not account for his actions. And now that Mr Banda is no longer [president and his immunity stripped, Mr Sondashi is seeking justice. Is that wrong?