Recent calls by members of the ruling Patriotic Front government of Zambia and its cohorts to remove immunity of the former president are politically motivated and an example of selective justice, according to international lawyer Robert Amsterdam.
Mr. Amsterdam, who serves as international counsel to former president Rupiah Banda, issued the following statement on Tuesday:
“From a legal perspective, this case is deeply embarrassing for the Zambian government and its praise singers. Never in my long history of working in countries classified as dictatorships have I seen such an absurd situation where both organisations and politicians are calling for removal of immunity, and yet, they still don’t even know why.
“Usually, in a typical show trial, the regime at least attempts to fabricate a politically motivated charge based on fictitious evidence. But President Michael Sata’s government is persecuting Banda in a completely opposite, backwards fashion, beginning with a verdict and then hoping to build toward some kind of allegation. They have already appointed themselves judge and jury to declare guilt without any semblance of actual investigation, charge, or even suggestion of what the nature of the question may be.
“The constitution is unequivocal regarding the separation of powers, and the direct interference in judicial affairs as demonstrated in statements made by both President Sata and Government Spokesman Kennedy Sakeni are not only illegal under Zambian law, but also stand as clear and unambiguous violations under the United Nations Universal Declaration on Human Rights.
“His Excellency Former President Banda is a decorated former head of state who has earned accolades for service to the country, democracy and his exemplary conduct of African leadership.
“This defamation campaign by the PF government has zero substance and cannot be taken seriously by anyone with passing knowledge of the procedural irregularities taking place that have turned the fight against corruption into a political instrument. There is no doubt that this is selective justice, judging by the allegations of corruption concerning Minister of Defence Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba and Minister of Justice Wynter Kabimba. Both have dodged questions by the investigative wings due to their political loyalty to the president.
Then there are the cases of President Sata’s relatives, such as Henry Kapoko who are miraculously acquitted, or others like the opposition Members of Parliament who are blackmailed into betraying their parties in order to see their corruption cases disappear.
“This wholesale undermining of rule of law is being guided by Fred M’membe of the Post Newspaper and his former business partner, Director of Public Prosecutions Mutembo Nchito. The two men have already allegedly abused their powers to force the government to help them avoid paying back debt to Development Bank of Zambia, and now, they are asking citizens to play the role of ‘useful idiots’ to support lifting immunity without even knowing why.
“I ask neutral observers to give pause for a moment to consider this fact: President Michael Sata and the PF still have yet to even describe a single detail of what exactly the alleged offence(s) consist of, but nevertheless, for more than a full year they have repeatedly made defamatory and prejudicial statements with the clear intention of destroying a perceived opponent without any real legal case being advanced.
“Meanwhile, the PF government has refused to answer any of the facts raised in the report presented last week by the Coalition for the Defence of Democratic Rights (CDDR) before the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG). They have refused to address urgent issues of governance, such as critical food shortages, rising prices of basic goods, or, most importantly, the status of the president’s health.
“The PF is behaving illegally in this campaign to strip immunity, and their illegitimacy shall not prevail.”